Pregnant women really do not need to "eat for two." Although a slight increase in calories and nutrients is required to ensure proper fetal development and the mother's health, it is not necessary to double your diet. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association reports that calorie increases should not exceed 300 per day. As a pregnant woman, you will find that each trimester or stage of pregnancy presents a new set of nutrition needs. If you are pregnant, consult your obstetrician or physician before making any drastic dietary changes.
The University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that pregnant mothers in the first trimester eat a healthy diet of 2,200 calories per day. During this stage of pregnancy, the baby's heart and brain are beginning to develop, as is the placenta--the primary source of nutrition and oxygen for the baby. Heidi Murkoff, author of the What to Expect book series and website, writes in What to Expect: Eating Well When You're Expecting that vitamins B6 and A are important, as is folic acid. Folate and B6 are essential to your baby's healthy brain development; vitamin A is necessary for your baby to develop healthy bones, teeth and eyes. Murkoff also recommends iron--to baby's promote blood cell growth--and fiber, to provide your baby energy and to prevent constipation for yourself.
The university of Rochester Medical Center recommends an increase to 2,500 calories per day during your second trimester, as this is the period when your baby will begin to grow limbs and begin his or her largest period of growth. Murkoff writes that folate remains important, as your baby's nervous system is now developing. Vitamin C becomes important during this phase as well, due to its ability to convert into collagen. Collagen is the body's largest source of connective tissues, including cartilage, muscles and the lowest layer of skin. You will also want to increase your vitamin D consumption to promote strong bone growth in your baby.
With your baby growing at a rapid rate, it is important for you to stay hydrated. The energy used by your baby during this period may lead you to overheat or get dehydrated. Both of these conditions can be dangerous for your baby, so drinking copious amounts of water daily is recommended. The University of Rochester Medical Center writes that a 2,500-calorie diet will suffice, but you will want to concentrate on proteins because baby needs it for development and you require it for energy. Murkoff writes that three servings of protein per day are necessary to finish baby's brain development and shape your baby's face. Protein derived from eggs and foods rich omega-3 fatty acids pack a 1-2 punch. Omega-3 fats are high in docosahexaenoic acid, which assists in baby's brain and eye development.
- "What to Expect: Eating Well When You're Expecting," H. Murkoff, 2005.
- American Pregnancy Association: Pregnancy Nutrition
- University of Rochester Medical Center: The Stages of Pregnancy