It helps to start thinking about healthy eating in pregnancy well before you decide to have a baby.

In many ways, a pregnant woman’s daily dietary requirements are much the same as anyone else’s. But there are exceptions.

These include special dietary requirements for folic acid, iron and calcium, and you need to be especially careful in handling and selecting your food.

To help you meet your baby’s nutritional needs in pregnancy, Calgary Foothills PCN health professionals have put together a range of videos and blogs.


Read on to get started!

1. First things first: Folic acid and a better diet

Start taking a multivitamin that includes at least 400 micrograms of folic acid at least one month before you try to conceive.

Folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects, which affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord. It takes time for adequate levels of folic acid to build up in your system so you need to start early. Continue taking a multivitamin that contains folic acid for at least 12 weeks after you conceive — until your baby is out of the danger zone.

It also helps to eat green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and citrus fruits, which contain folic acid, to build the levels in your system. Either way, you must take a multivitamin that contains enough folic acid.

Next, take a long, hard look at your diet.

Eating well makes it easier to conceive and, once you are pregnant, helps keep your baby healthy and well. Learn how.

2. How much weight to gain in pregnancy, staying active and managing food cravings

First, calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to learn how much weight you should gain and check the scales regularly to stay on track.

Read this blog 5 tips to a healthy pregnancy weight, and food cravings to learn why your BMI matters, how to manage food cravings and why you should stay active.

3. How much extra food should I eat?

 

Eating well hinges on two things — eating the right amount of food to keep your weight gain in check and eating the right type of food to ensure your baby gets the nutrients it needs.

How much you need to eat depends on the stage of your pregnancy. In the first trimester, you don’t need to eat any extra calories.

In the second trimester, your calorie requirements jump by an extra 340 calories each day and in the third trimester you need to eat an extra 450 extra calories.

To see how this looks on your plate and for snack suggestions, read this blog Tips on how much to eat in each trimester of your pregnancy.

4. Balancing healthy meals at lunch and dinner

 

Three well-spaced meals each day are the gateway to healthy eating. They help stop you over-eating at your next meal, because you never let yourself get too hungry.

Read this blog 6 tips to eating a healthy lunch and dinner in pregnancy to learn to balance your plate with the right amount of vegetables, whole grains and meat or meat alternatives.

5. Up your iron intake

 

Pregnant women need about one and a half times more iron than they did before pregnancy — up from about 18 milligrams a day to 27 milligrams.

The extra iron produces red blood cells for the mother as well as the baby’s blood cells and placenta.

A pregnant woman can only get enough iron by significantly changing the way she eats to include more iron-rich foods and taking an iron supplement.

Read this blog 6 tips to increase your iron intake in pregnancy for tips and snack suggestions.

6. Eat more calcium-rich food

An adequate intake of calcium in pregnancy is essential to help your baby build strong bones and teeth, and grow a healthy heart and muscles.

A lack of calcium during pregnancy can lead to high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.

To learn about calcium requirements in pregnancy, great snack suggestions and the importance of Vitamin D in calcium absorption, read this blog How to get enough calcium in pregnancy, and food safety.

7. Food safety: Stay vigilant

Lastly, how you store, prepare and cook your food is especially important during pregnancy – your baby’s life depends on it.

Food poisoning can cause miscarriage. Watch the video above to learn what foods you need to avoid.

We wish you a safe and healthy pregnancy!

More videos:

The pregnancy and nutrition videos and blogs featured in this post are summarized here:

  • Tips on how much to eat in each trimester of your pregnancy: video and blog
  • 5 tips to a healthy pregnancy weight, and food cravings: video and blog
  • 6 tips for eating a healthy lunch and dinner in pregnancy: video and blog
  • 6 tips to increase your iron intake in pregnancy: video and blog
  • How to get enough calcium in pregnancy and food safety: video and blog

 

The Riley Park Maternity Clinic offers care to low-risk patients based in Calgary and Cochrane during pregnancy. The family doctors at the clinic specialize in obstetrics. Patients deliver at the Foothills Medical Centre. Find out more.

To see more pregnancy and birth-related resources, search “pregnancy” in the Resources section on our website.