When eating for two (or more), it’s where the calories come from that matters most. Extra baby-building calories need to come from a well-balanced diet that is high in protein, low in sugar and refined carbs, loaded with fiber, and rich in the right kind of fat—omega-3 polyunsaturated fat.
You will want your diet to contain nutrients like calcium for healthy growth, iron to support your babies’ blood supply (and to help prevent you from becoming anemic), and folic acid to reduce the risk of some birth defects. For added insurance, ask your doctor about prescribing prenatal vitamins or you can find them over the counter at your local pharmacy.
In addition to good nutrition, to support your own health and the healthy development of your baby, it’s important to gain the right amount of weight. Your obstetrician can help you determine what weight is “right” for you, based in part on your pre-pregnancy weight and health status.
“If you are vegan or have food-related concerns like lactose intolerance, be sure to make your doctor aware. The two of you can create a plan that’s healthiest for you and your precious baby,” said Ronald Nichols, M.D.. and OB/GYN with Henry Ford Jackson Hospital.
- Eat your veggies! Not surprised to see vegetables are high on the list? That’s because they make a powerful baby-building diet. Specifically, veggies are a good source of vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron and magnesium. Aim for up to five servings of vegetables daily (with at least two of those daily servings from green, leafy vegetables).
- Don’t forget the fruit. Get your vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium by choosing fiber-rich varieties of fresh fruit and juices. (Try to avoid juices that have sugar added.) Eat plenty of food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits and melons, as well as a variety of berries — a great topper for cereal and yogurt.
- Pour a bowl of energy. Get energy for you and growth for your baby by eating 9 to 11 servings of carbs from high-fiber cereal, bread, brown rice and pasta. Look for nutrient-rich whole-grains and fortified products that have folic acid and iron.
- Get your dairy daily. For a great source of protein, calcium and phosphorus, reach for dairy products. Enjoy three servings of milk, yogurt and cheese (includes cream cheese and cottage cheese) daily. If your doctor is asking you to limit calories and cholesterol, choose low fat or nonfat dairy products.
- Choose good sources of B vitamins, protein, iron and zinc. Include three servings of red meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs or nuts in your daily diet.
To schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or find an OB/GYN, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936). If you’re in the Jackson area or south central Michigan, visit https://www.henryford.com/locations/jackson-hospital or call 1-888-862-DOCS.
Dr. Ronald Nichols practices obstetrics and gynecology at Henry Ford Health in Jackson. His areas of expertise include high-risk pregnancies, fibroids and post-menopausal issues.