Nutrition While Pregnant 

if you missed our first article on nutrition prior to conceiving, click here.  women’s health nurse practitioner guides us through nutrition tips for pregnancy in this article.

Congratulations!! This is such an exciting time, no matter if this is your first baby or beyond, the creation of new life is really something to celebrate! When it comes to nutrition for pregnancy, there is SO much advice (some welcomed and some unwarranted from a pesky relative), so my goal in this part of our series is to remove some of the confusion and outdated advice!

The first trimester can be really hard when it comes to eating while dealing with many food aversions. The best advice I have is on the days you are feeling well, get in as many nutrients as possible, load them up! On days where you are feeling crummy, be graceful to yourself. You are human, you are growing a human…that alone is an accomplishment you should feel proud of. I never push for perfection, we strive for consistency. Always take your vitamins with food and water! If you are feeling really queasy, you can consider supplementing with Vitamin B6 which is known to help with reducing nausea. Sometimes iron can increase or cause GI upset. Ask your doc, but I choose a prenatal without iron and then supplement separately with iron starting in the second trimester, this could be a great alternative option for you!

Hydration is key! I want you to aim to drink half your body weight in water a day. This may seem like a lot but in pregnancy your blood volume significantly expands which requires more water. Also, the first thing they will do if you end up in L&D triage (as a former labor and delivery nurse) is throw an IV in you, hydrate you, and see if your symptoms resolve– so save yourself the expensive copay and just stay on top of hydration!

Let’s address processed food as it is the main culprit! Processed food is single handedly responsible for our nations increase in health disparities, including pregnancy complications (like Gestational Diabetes, Hypertension and even Preeclampsia). Over the last few decades, trendy diets, along with calorie restriction have led to a marked increase in sugar and vegetable oil consumption due to whole fats being removed from foods. Since 1950 the percentage of dietary vegetable oil used in products, from margarine, shortening and refined oils has risen 400%. The consumption of sugar and processed foods has risen 60% (and climbing)! All of those shelf stable bars, snacks and boxes of crackers are loaded with these harmful ingredients.

Let’s talk about Canola Oil specifically. Did you know in 1978 Canola Oil was renamed by the Canadians as a shortened name for “Canadian Oil, low acid”. Canola oil does not come from a ‘Canola’, there is no such thing. It actually comes from rapeseeds and requires heat and hexane solvents in order to remove the very small amount of oil from the seed itself. This process (oxidation from heat) directly increases inflammation in your body. Better yet, this oil was never intended to be consumed! It was actually used for oil lamps until WWII when it started to be used for steam engines and ships because it adheres to wet metal. Once the war was over, there was a plummet in the demand for this product so a (less scientific) form of genetic modification was done to reintroduce this food as a health food product in order to keep making money off of it. If you take one thing away from this series I hope it is that you immediately remove all refined oils (Soybean, Vegetable and Canola Oil) from your diet.

The average American consumes 3 lbs of sugar a week, frightening! When you remove processed food from your diet (with the occasional treat because we are HUMAN) you will be doing a service to both yourself and baby! This will also help optimize and control weight gain in pregnancy which in turn dictates many pregnancy outcomes and health measures. Recently, guidelines for weight gain in pregnancy have changed to the following:

If you are starting with a “normal” BMI, gain 25-35 lbs.

If you are starting with a “low/underweight” BMI, old recommendations were 28-40 lbs, new recommendations are 43-52 lbs.

If you are starting with a “high/overweight” BMI, old recommendations were 15-25 lbs, new recommendations are 8-10 lbs.

If you are starting with a “>40/obese” BMI, old recommendations were 11-20  lbs, new recommendations are losing 13 lbs.

Remember, these are guidelines! I personally gained 40 lbs with my first pregnancy and 36 with the second with a  “normal” BMI. These are here to help you, not define you!

The Nourished Momma courses provide a few different ways of making a realistic plan for nutrition in pregnancy. There are grocery lists, entirely prepared days, menus with options for meals if you prefer to choose you own set-up! I know that there are so many varieties of how well people respond to plans with their diets and I respect that. Every pregnancy is different and unique and everyone should be given a choice on what works for their lifestyle because the best plan is the one you will actually stick to!

As you make your way through your pregnancy you will notice your nutritional needs and wants change and that is okay. The first trimester does not require any additional calories. The second trimester demands about 300-400 more calories and the third trimester about 400-450 more. This is not a ton more food and can be as simple as adding in a smoothie in your day! The more consistent and healthy you are in pregnancy, the smoother and easier the postpartum journey will be!

Some healthy snack ideas for pregnancy could include: Hummus and Veggies, Smoothies with coconut oil, flax, nut butters, Simple Mills brand crackers and cheese, Siggi’s yogurt with some Purely Elizabeth Granola, Lara bars, and avocado toast on a sprouted bread (check the freezer section of your grocery store!).

Other articles in the series:

Part 1: Nutrition for Fertility: Prenatal Nutrition
Part 3: Postpartum Nutrition

Hi there! I’m Steph, the founder and creator of Nourished Momma. I am a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and have been helping guide women nutritionally for over six years. I am a former Labor & Delivery Nurse and now, after obtaining my Master’s in Women’s Health, work in Reproductive Endocrinology as an NP, helping women conceive, balance hormones and understand their bodies. I have seen both sides of pregnancy in fine detail and have spent years researching what leads to beautiful, enjoyable pregnancies, and healthy snuggly babies. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to be alongside you in your journey. You can find me at nourishedmomma.com and follow me on IG @NourishedMomma.