Saturday, May 3, 2008

Pregnancy Awareness Month Week One: Nutrition

Welcome to Pregnancy Awareness Month at Birthing Your Baby!

The goal of Pregnancy Awareness Month is to empower pregnant women with information, “how to” ideas and inspiration to incorporate PAM’s four key initiatives – education, exercise, nutrition & wellness and nurture – into their life routines and to show women how easy it can be to make healthy changes in their lives for themselves and their children. I'll be celebrating here with posts on weekly topics, starting with nutrition this week and stress management next week.

Eating well during pregnancy is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby. Everything your baby receives to grow from a handful of cells to a healthy, full-term infant ready to meet the world comes from you! Your body changes too - for example, a pregnant woman needs more protein and iron and fluid because her blood supply increases by around 40%!

I think most people understand the value of eating well - but what, exactly, does "eating well" mean?? What nutrients do women need more of during pregnancy? Which foods contain these nutrients? How can a pregnant mom figure out if she's eating enough of these nutrients? What about prenatal vitamins? Is seafood safe? How does eating well change during different trimesters of the pregnancy? What about morning sickness? heartburn? These are all common questions that Birthing Your Baby childbirth classes can help answer.

Here are a few of the general tips I offer my pregnant clients:

Eat a lot of protein: 80-100 grams per day. Proteins are the building blocks for your baby's growing body. Protein also supports a pregnant mother's increasing blood supply. Some studies report that 80-100g protein daily reduces your risk of pre-eclampsia, a preterm or low birth weight baby & other complications. Look for a post later this week with specific tips on increasing protein in your diet.

Go lean. Make lean protein and dairy choices: skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese; lean cuts of chicken; ground turkey or leaner ground round instead of ground beef; lean fish; lower-fat cheeses like part-skim mozzeralla, ricotta, or cream cheese. These are all good protein sources without as many calories from fat.

Choose whole-grain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates give your body the energy to function properly and grow your baby. Whole-grain and other complex carbohydrates are processed slower than simple carbs, keeping your blood-sugar levels stable and helping you feel full longer. Whole-grain choices include 100% whole grain bread, pita, crackers, or English muffins; wheat pasta (Barilla offers a non-wheat pasta that has great fiber and protein); brown rice; quinoa, oats, corn meal and other grains.

What about morning sickness? Although nutrition is important during all stages of pregnancy, it can be a real challenge during the first trimester to eat well. Pay attention to what you are able to tolerate, and try to make those choices as healthy as possible. Try taking prenatal vitamins at night instead of in the morning - that can really help with daytime nausea.

Snack to Improve Nutrition. Think about food groups when you snack and aim for a snack that has a little bit of fruit/veggie, protein, and complex carbohydrate.

Some examples:
**a glass of skim milk with a banana & a graham cracker;
**a cheese stick, some apple slices/carrots/grapes & a few Triscuits;
** a small yogurt with granola;
** peanut-butter toast & a banana;
** dried fruit with cheerios & some almonds;

You can also use snacks to make up any gaps in your daily nutrition. For example, if you know you didn't meet your goals for fruits/vegetables at the end of the day, have a piece of fruit or some carrot sticks before bed. If you didn't meet protein goals, have a piece of peanut-butter toast and a glass of milk. If you didn't meet calcium goals, have a yogurt smoothie or a small scoop of ice cream for a treat.

In addition to discussing nutrition thoroughly in my classes, I also offer the following books from the lending library:
** Guide to Healthy Eating During Pregnancy
** Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy
** The Family Nutrition Book
** Pregnancy Survival Cookbook

Finally, here are some online resources for more information on nutrition:
Blue Ribbon Baby - Dr. Tom Brewer
Interview with Dr. Tom Brewer: Eat to Beat Pregnancy Complications
Nutrtion Info from Dr. Sears, including portion sizes
Nutrition Information from Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center
KidSafe Seafood
Pocket Seafood Selector

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine


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