What about nutrition? To simplify your life, here are the important recommendations to follow as soon as you learn that you’re pregnant!
The following recommendations apply to both pregnant women and the general population:
- Eat 3 meals a day.
- Eat snacks when needed (2-3 per day).
- Avoid going beyond 4 hours without eating (to avoid energy slumps and cravings).
- Drink 3 litres of water per day (pregnant women need more than the 2 litres recommended for the general population).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Avoid alcohol.
- 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.
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!
Membre de l’Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec (OPDQ)
Spécialisée en nutrition sportive – diplômée par le Comité Olympique International
I am a SW, I am an Intervenor, I am a Social Worker.