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Ever heard the saying that pregnant ladies should eat for two? Well, it’s a myth and is not true! However, nutrition during pregnancy is important to ensure your growing baby gets all the nourishment it needs. If you lack in any vitamins and nutrients, the chances are your baby is too!

Pregnancy Pointers

  • A woman who is not pregnant requires approximately 2100 calories per day.
  • A pregnant woman needs approximately 2500 calories per day.
  • A breastfeeding woman needs approximately 3000 calories per day.
  • During pregnancy, it is considered normal to gain 10 to 12kg.

Vitamins & Minerals

Folic Acid. Women need folic acid during the first three months of pregnancy and preferably before conception. It is important for the development of the baby’s nervous system and helps prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida and a cleft lip or palate. Recommendations suggest women should take a 400-microgram supplement every day until three months into pregnancy. Good dietary sources are barley beans, fruit, green vegetables, orange juice, lentils, peas and rice.

Iron. Pregnant women require more iron to produce the blood needed to supply the placenta with nutrition. Good sources of iron are green vegetables, strawberries, muesli and wholemeal bread. Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, so drink orange juice if taking a supplement. Also, calcium can interfere with iron absorption by binding to the molecules, so avoid drinking tea or coffee when consuming iron.

Zinc and Calcium. These minerals are needed for embryo development, however, can be obtained just by following a balanced, varied diet.

Foods to avoid. Vitamin A is known to cause damage to the embryo, therefore, avoid foods containing large amounts, like liver. High levels of caffeine can result in babies having a low birth weight, which increases the risk of health problems in later life. Too much can also cause miscarriage. Caffeine is found in lots of foods, such as coffee, tea and chocolate, and is added to some soft drinks and energy drinks.

Suggested daily servings for a woman age 25, Height 5”4

Food TypeWeight Before Pregnancy1st Trimester (Weight Gain 1 to 2kg)2nd Trimester (Weight gain 300g to 400g each week)3rd Trimester (Weight gain 1 to 3kg each month)
Grains49.9kg170g226g255g
63.5kg200g255g255g
Fruit & Veg49.9kg4.5 cups5 cups5.5 cups
63.5kg5 cups5.5 cups5.5 cups
Meat, poulty, fish & eggs49.9kg155g184g184g
63.5kg170g184g184g

USDA Daily Food Plan for Moms, 2011

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