How should my partner’s diet change now that she is Pregnant?
If she is eating a healthy diet before she became pregnant, your spouse may only need to make a few changes to meet the special nutritional needs of pregnancy. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), a pregnant woman needs only 300 calories a day more than she did pre-pregnancy. The ADA recommends that pregnant women eat a total of 2,500 to 2,700 calories every day. These calories should come from a variety of healthy foods.
But what pregnant women eat is more important than how much. A pregnant woman needs more of many important vitamins, minerals and nutrients than she did pre-pregnancy. To get enough nutrients, pregnant women should take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin and eat healthy foods from the four basic food groups everyday including:
Fruits and Vegetables — Pregnant women should try to eat 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables combined (for example: 3 servings of fruit and 4 of vegetables) daily. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C help your spouse and your baby to have healthy gums and other tissues. Vitamin C also helps her body to heal wounds and to absorb iron.
Examples of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables also add fiber and minerals to her diet and give her energy. Plus, dark green vegetables have vitamin A, iron, and folate, which are important nutrients during pregnancy. One Serving Fruit = 1 medium apple, 1 medium banana, 1/2 cup of chopped fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice One Serving Vegetable = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of other vegetables (raw or cooked), 3/4 cup vegetable juice
Whole-grains or Enriched Breads/Cereals — Pregnant women should eat 6 to 9 servings of whole-grain or enriched breads and/or cereals every day. Whole-grain products and enriched products like bread, rice, pasta, and breakfast cereals contain iron, B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some breakfast cereals are enriched with 100% of the folic acid your spouse’s body needs every day. According to the ADA, folic acid has been shown to help prevent some serious birth defects.
Eating breakfast cereals and other enriched grain products that contain folic acid is important before and during pregnancy. One Serving Cereal/Bread = 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
Dairy Products — Pregnant women should try to eat 4 or more servings of low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products every day. Dairy products provide the calcium your partner and your baby need for strong bones and teeth. Dairy products are also great sources of vitamin A and D, protein, and B vitamins. Vitamin A helps growth, fight infection, and vision. According to the ADA, pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day.
If your partner is 18 or younger, she will need 1,300 mg of calcium each day. Try to get her to eat low-fat or non-fat milk and milk products to lower her fat intake. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and tofu. If she is lactose intolerant or can’t digest dairy products, she can still get enough calcium.
There are several low-lactose or reduced-lactose products available. In some cases, your doctor might recommend a calcium supplement. One Serving Dairy = 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 oz. natural cheese, 2 oz. processed cheese for your spouse.
Proteins — Pregnant women and their growing babies need 10 grams of protein more than non-pregnant women. Pregnant women should eat 60 grams of protein every day. Two or more 2-3 ounce servings of cooked lean meat, fish, or poultry without skin, or two or more 1 ounce servings of cooked meat contain about 60 grams of protein. Eggs, nuts, dried beans, and peas also are good sources of protein.
But don’t rush out and buy high protein drinks! According to the APA, women in the United States regularly eat more protein than they need. So your partner probably won’t have to make an effort to eat the needed 60 grams of protein a day. Don’t let her eat uncooked or undercooked meats or fish. These can make her sick and may harm your baby. Pregnant women should also avoid deli luncheon meats. Protein builds muscle, tissue, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for her and the baby.
Protein-rich foods also have B vitamins and iron important for her blood. One Serving Protein = 2-3oz. of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish, 1 oz. meat also = 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, 1 egg, 1/2 cup tofu, 1/3 cup nuts, 2 T. peanut butter