Pregnancy is supposed to be a magical time. Our bodies are nourishing and supporting the growth of a human being! …but how overwhelming is that when you think about it!? Our decisions directly impact the life of another person growing inside of us. Pregnancy nutrition is the most fundamental support we can provide this being. But with all the diets, health foods, and eating fads it is hard to distinguish what kind of pregnancy nutrition we should actually follow.
What is key to remember is that every pregnancy looks and feels different. As I approach the home stretch of my third pregnancy, I share these tips for healthy eating and leading a nutritious pregnancy.
First trimester morning sickness is unavoidable. As I mentioned, each person is different, and so their experience will be as well. Morning sickness in general is *usually* unavoidable, no matter what diet or lifestyle you lead.
Morning sickness stems from the rise in our hormone levels while our bodies prepare to grow a human and provide this miracle with the nutrients it needs via the placenta. I’m not sure why they call it ‘morning sickness’. Personally, I never had it in the morning.
At times it lasted all day and at other times it would begin in the afternoon. Anyhow, can some of the symptoms be reduced? I’d like to say yes, but again it differs from person to person.
What many suggested to me during my second pregnancy did not touch nausea I was experiencing. Through my third (and current) pregnancy, I didn’t try a lot of the alternatives that were recommended to me during my second pregnancy, rather I suffered through the feelings.
Yes, even with two toddlers in tow. Sorry, but the ginger drops, chews, and oils didn’t do a thing for me! I focused on nutritional measures in an attempt to deter the morning sickness and provide my body with the nutrients it needed most.
Let’s get real though, no matter how hard I tried to consume vegetables and nutrient-dense foods, my body was just not feeling it. Now if you know me outside of pregnancy, you’re aware that I’m not a big supplement person. I think *most* are unnecessary if you have the ability to plan a well rounded, whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.
However, in this day when we’re often on-the-go, planning for this type of lifestyle can be difficult if you don’t have the right tools and guidance. Therefore, during pregnancy (and even postpartum) it is wise to supplement.
In addition to supplementation, here are my most valuable tips for having a nutritious pregnancy. Pregnancy nutrition isn’t limited to only food, it includes keeping your mind and body healthy. Stress, whether physically or mentally, affects how your body functions.
Tip #1 – Keep healthy snacks on hand
During the first trimester, you may notice craving carb-filled foods. This is because the growing being in our body is thriving off the glucose produced from consuming said carbs. Stick to healthy ones such as sweet potatoes and whole grains.
Fruit or smoothies are other snacks that you can easily take with you. The antioxidants are great for pregnancy nutrition since our bodies are undergoing such strenuous changes. The extra antioxidant production is key to reducing oxidative stress.
Tip #2 – Stay hydrated
It’s hard enough staying hydrated on a daily basis, yet it is even more important to do so while pregnant. Your body needs water to form amniotic fluid, produce extra blood volume and carry nutrients to the babe in your belly. Always keep a reusable water bottle with you. I love the stainless steel 32 oz Takeya bottles.
Set a goal to drink three of them throughout the day. General guidelines state that pregnant women should drink almost 2.5 liters/day or about 77 oz. I say aim high!
Our bodies are working extra during this time, so between drinking water and eating fruits and veggies that contain water, our bodies will utilize all the nutrients we give it.
Tip #3 – You aren’t “eating for two”
Stick to eating whole foods that provide you and baby the nutrients needed to grow healthy and strong. If you avoid processed and sugary foods then you shouldn’t need to count calories. Focus on nourishing the beautiful being growing inside of you.
Up your protein! Some great varieties of protein include beans, lentils, and quinoa. Eat your beans and greens! Both of which will also help you keep your iron levels where they need to be.
During your second trimester, your consumption should rise about 340 calories and throughout the third trimester about 450 extra calories (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). To be honest, I never counted calories.
Pregnant or not, it is not something that I want to consume myself with. Rather, my focus is to eat whole foods that provide nutrients, vitamins, and minerals such as fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains.
Tip #4 – Supplement
The needs of your body change throughout pregnancy. One way to think of it is that your body is no longer just your body. It is now the home of your growing babe as well.
Since our bodies are changing based on the needs of nourishing another human you can guess that more nutrients are needed.
Pregnancy nutrition is of the essence, yet let’s face it the world we currently live in does not readily accommodate a nutritious lifestyle (let alone pregnancy). A well rounded prenatal is highly recommended.
Check to see that your prenatal includes B12, and folate (not folic acid, as it is not metabolized as efficiently).
Another ‘supplement’ that I regularly take is a quality probiotic. Probiotics have been said to possibly lessen your chance of testing positive for Strep B during pregnancy. Overall gut health is important; make sure to check with your physician to decide whether a probiotic is right for you.
Tip #5 – Move!
Between fatigue, exhaustion and morning sickness, admit it – exercise is the last activity you want to partake in. If you aren’t a fan of exercise classes or the typical exercise regimen, then try something different to make it fun.
HOWEVER, if you haven’t exercised prior to your pregnancy, it is not recommended that you start a new routine. Instead focus on embracing nature, going outside and taking walks or possibly trying prenatal yoga to relieve some tension in your body.
Remember, during pregnancy your body is releasing a hormone called relaxin. This hormone causes your ligaments to relax, so be cautious not to overdo it. The last thing you want is an injury while you are pregnant.
While I bring up the topic of injury, I also want to address the discomfort that pregnancy can bring. I mentioned prenatal yoga, which can sometimes alleviate some of the tension on the body. Another outlet to delve into is chiropractic work and massage. Both of which can be truly beneficial for the momma to be!
Tip #6 – Rest
Easier said than done, right? Do your best to get as much rest as possible. This is hard if you are working until your due date, or whether you are a stay at home mom with other littles to look after. We all have a heavy load on us, both physically and mentally.
Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty for needing some R&R. Your body is going through significant changes, and it needs rest to help you prepare for bringing your bundle of joy into this world.
Lacy Catao is a certified Holistic Nutritionist, former paralegal and Army veteran. Motherhood inspires Lacy to share her knowledge of nutrition and optimal wellness, while also providing lifestyle insight as a mother striving to parent with grace and patience. This California native planted her roots in northern Nevada with her husband in 2016. She contributes her love for country living to Idaho, which is where she spent most of her school-age years. Lacy is the mother of three girls and two stubborn Bulldogs.