This blog is dedicated to my pregnant sister-in-law. She is due with a baby girl in March, and I’ll be an aunt for the first time. Making healthy choices is always important, but it’s especially important when you’re pregnant. There is no way that I could cover all nutrition related pregnancy topics in just one blog. Instead, I have three (hopefully, fun) facts about pregnancy nutrition:
- You aren’t really eating for two. During the first trimester, calorie requirements remain the same as when you’re not pregnant. Calorie requirements increase during the second and third trimester, but not by enough to count as a whole other person. During the second trimester, an extra 340 calories are required daily and 450 calories daily during the third trimester. This equates to an extra 2-3 food guide servings each day, such as an extra slice of toast with peanut butter for breakfast and glass of milk with dinner.
- Food preferences start to develop in the womb. What you eat during pregnancy may impact what your child will eat later in life. Amniotic fluid contains molecules derived from the mother’s diet. Since the baby is surrounded by the amniotic fluid, the baby can taste the flavours. For instance, one study had pregnant women drink carrot juice and found that their babies were more likely to accept carrots when transitioning to solid foods. Perhaps, this is because repeated exposure to food promotes acceptance and preference of these foods later on in life.
- Calcium needs increase but no extra calcium intake is required. This is because the body is able to increase calcium absorption from foods during pregnancy for the developing fetus. However, many people lack adequate calcium in their diet. If you don’t get enough calcium during pregnancy, calcium is taken from your bones to help the baby develop, increasing the risk of low bone mineral density. Getting adequate calcium also helps prevent pregnancy induced high blood pressure. Calcium needs can be met by consuming 2 milk or alternative servings each day. One serving is equal 1 cup of milk or ¾ cup of yogurt.
While nutrition and overall health during pregnancy influence the developing baby, so does nutrition before and after pregnancy. Following a well-balanced diet will help you feel good and support a healthy pregnancy. For in-depth information on pregnancy nutrition go to the Public Health Agency of Canada