Mama Monday – Nutrition in Pregnancy Pt. 1
Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Ours was pretty uneventful, and I have to say it was refreshing. Sometimes you need a weekend free from any set plans or honey-do lists!
For Mama Monday this week I’d like to share some pointers about nutrition in pregnancy. Since motherhood really begins with pregnancy, we begin early on in caring for our children and making sure they have all they need long before childbirth.
As a Tulsa doula, I am not a medical expert or nutritionist, so I encourage you to discuss any nutritional advice with your health care provider. What I will focus on are a few of the most important things expectant mothers should keep in mind that will keep you and your baby health, as well as help you feel the very best during pregnancy. Nutrition in pregnancy is still a huge topic, though, even cutting it down to the basics, so I will cover it in three posts.
Today: Protein and Water!
1. Protein, protein, protein.
In any pregnancy book, protein is first on the list, and it’s first on mine. First off, think of protein as the building blocks of your baby. Proteins are made up of amino acids which do the body building work. Pay attention to this part: non-pregnant women need about 46g of protein per day for optimum health. Pregnant women need TWICE as much – 80-100g of pure protein every day (Kitzinger 1999, p. 95). I know, that’s a lot, but it’s very, very important. Not only do you and your baby need it for all of the hard work required for growing that baby, but filling up on protein will help curb nausea and combat fatigue! Instead of reaching for crackers, eat a handful of nuts, spoonful of peanut butter, or some cubes of cheese.
What I highly recommend to my friends and clients are protein shakes. Spiru-tein is a great brand that has yummy flavors and is also recommended for low carb diets (women who are pregnant should be very careful about sugar and refined carbohydrates so as to steer clear of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia). When you first wake up in the morning, make yourself a shake; when the protein powder is mixed with a cup of skim milk, it packs over 20g of protein. That way you’re already 25% to your daily goal of 80g! Alternatively, this could be a mid afternoon “snack” that will energize you when you’re feeling tired and need a boost of energy. These shakes also have a lot of great vitamins and minerals in them that are essential during pregnancy, and will be beneficial especially if you cannot tolerate prenatal vitamins.
Eggs are another great “clean” protein, which are usually easy to digest and not unappetizing to most pregnant women. Start your day with an omelet, boil a few to crumble on salads, or scramble for a quick snack. Eggs are cheap, so fill up every time you go to the store!
Think of layering your proteins too. Add chicken chunks, beans, nuts, and shredded cheese to a salad, or sprinkle nuts and whole grain granola onto low-fat yogurt. Once you start focusing on protein as the most important aspect of your diet, you’ll begin thinking of all kinds of creative ways to integrate it into your meals!
Download this printable protein counter, and post it in your kitchen for easy reference. If you make sure to include a serving of protein every time you eat throughout your day, you should have no problem reaching your goal!
Also, check out the Brewer’s Diet, a highly recommended diet for pregnancy which emphasizes protein intake and other essential nutrients.
2. Water, water, water.
It’s hard to say which is more important, protein or water. They really go hand in hand. Get this: the average adult (not pregnant) should drink half his/her body weight in ounces of water daily. So, if you are a woman who is 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water a day, just to maintain your health!
Needless to say, your water intake should increase during pregnancy. Julie Redfern, registered dietitian, recommends 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day (64 oz) PLUS another 8 oz cup per hour of light activity. Depending on what type of work you do during the day, that could be another cup of water every hour of the day! In my opinion, aiming for the same number as your protein is a good starting goal: 80-100 oz of water per day, that way it’s less to remember. Meet that goal, and keep going!
Why is water so important? Water is essential to optimal health and proper bodily functions, even outside of pregnancy. It helps carry nutrients throughout the body, and flushes out toxins. It also increases brain activity and concentration. Adequate water intake can also combat fatigue, constipation, water retention, hemorrhoids, and bladder infections, all of which are common in pregnancy! 22% of your weight gain during pregnancy is an increase of blood volume, and 11% is amniotic fluid (Kitzinger 1999, p. 94), both of which require an increase of fluids. Consequently, making sure you are hydrated can prevent preterm labor.
Find a reusable water bottle that has measurements on the side (Nalgene makes good, durable ones), and figure out how many of those you need to drink each day to meet your goal. Again, if you’re eating several times a day, and drink a glass of water at each meal and with snacks, you should easily meet your goal.
Stay tuned the next couple of Mondays for more information on nutrition in pregnancy!
Love and Honey,
Kitzinger, Sheila (1999). The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.