Food Lifestyle
When you share the news of your pregnancy with the people in your entourage, they will undoubtedly be very happy and they’ll have lots of advice to impart to ensure a healthy pregnancy. That being said, no two pregnancies are identical, just as no two women are identical. Sift through the advice you’re given and if you’re unsure what to keep and what to set aside, follow your gut instinct!

What about nutrition? To simplify your life, here are the important recommendations to follow as soon as you learn that you’re pregnant!

Basic guidelines

The following recommendations apply to both pregnant women and the general population:

  1. Eat 3 meals a day.
  2. Eat snacks when needed (2-3 per day).
  3. Avoid going beyond 4 hours without eating (to avoid energy slumps and cravings).
  4. Drink 3 litres of water per day (pregnant women need more than the 2 litres recommended for the general population).
  5. Eat a variety of foods from the 4 food groups (as recommended by the Canada Food Guide): fruits and vegetables, grain products, milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives.
  6. Choose nutrient-rich foods rather than foods that are high in fat and sugar. For example, opt for an oven baked potato (it’s rich in fiber and potassium) instead of french fries (high in unhealthy fat).
  7. Take a folic acid supplement every day (if you don’t take prenatal multivitamins): folic acid is vital to the normal growth of your baby’s spine, brain and skull. Ideally, you should start taking  folic acid at least three months before you start trying for a baby. 
  8. Avoid alcohol.
  9. Limit your consumption of caffeine to 300 mg per day (the equivalent of 2 cups of filtered coffee per day). Don’t forget that tea, chocolate and soft drinks contain caffeine.

grossesse alimentationSource: Alexa Suter on Unsplash

How much to eat?

For a woman at an already healthy weight:

  • 1st trimester: her dietary needs remain the same because her nutrient needs remain the same. On the other hand, she might see a reduction in the amount of food she eats due to the nausea/vomiting that can occur during this trimester.
  • 2nd trimester: she needs to increase her daily caloric intake by about 340 calories; the equivalent of  2 servings based upon the Canada Food Guide.
  • 3rd trimester: she needs to increase her daily caloric intake by another 110 calories (approximately); the equivalent of 3 servings based upon the Canada Food Guide.

Thus, saying that a woman is eating for two, is a complete myth.

To be avoided

Some foods can put your baby’s life at risk because your placenta is not an effective barrier against all bacteria and the baby’s immune system is not yet developed enough to fight them. I suggest you read the From Tiny Tot to Toddler guide for more details, but here’s basically what a pregnant woman should not eat:

  • raw meat and cold cuts
  • raw fish and smoked fish
  • raw eggs and poached eggs (because the yellow of the eggs is not cooked)
  • unpasteurized cheese
  • raw sprouts

Hopefully, the tips in this article haven’t increased your stress levels. After all, there’s a lot to think about when you’re expecting a baby.

Wishing you all the best!

maternitéSource: Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Marie-Eve Nadeau
Nutritionniste-diététiste Dt.P.
Membre de l’Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec (OPDQ)
Spécialisée en nutrition sportive – diplômée par le Comité Olympique International

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Marie-Ève Nadeau

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