The Spectacular Six of Pregnancy

1. PROTEIN

~ Basic requirement – 60 grams/day, 1st trimester, 66 grams/day, 2nd and 3rd
Inadequate amounts of protein in pregnancy often cause the dreaded nausea that occurs, especially in the first trimester. Remember, you are not only trying to build a human being, which is made primarily of protein, but you are also trying to fuel the factory that is also building milk ducts, placenta and a nice “nest” for the baby.

Great sources include meat, chicken and fish, eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, quiche, nuts, nut butters (like peanut butter!), legume beans (like kidney or black beans), soy products (like soy nuts or edamame), and protein powders with no additional vitamins to make smoothies with.

2. FLUID

~ Basic requirement – 96 ounces/day
This includes everything liquid that goes into your mouth, not just 96 ounces of plain old water! In addition to helping your body increase it’s blood supply by 30-50%, adequate fluid wards off a myriad of “pregnancy boogeymen,” including headaches, urinary tract infections, and preterm contractions. So, bottoms up!

3. IRON

~ Basic requirement – 30 mgs./day
Iron helps build red blood cells. Red blood cells are a substantial part of that additional blood your body is trying to generate, in the attempt to adequately deliver oxygen and nutrients to your baby. Growing babies also require the iron to build their own blood supplies, so they act as a “leach” to a pregnant mom’s iron stores. Natural, non-constipating sources of iron include red meat, dark green leafy vegetables (like spinach and kale), dark-colored legume beans, dried apricots, raisins, prunes, blackstrap molasses, and simply cooking daily in a cast iron skillet!

4. CALCIUM

~ Basic requirement – 1200 mgs./day
Calcium is what’s needed to help build strong bones and teeth in your baby. A pregnant body also stores calcium in preparation for nursing that new baby, as well. Some studies have even shown that inadequate intake of calcium in pregnancy may contribute to osteoporosis in later years. Milk and dairy products provide the greatest sources of calcium, but it can also be found in legumes, nuts and dried fruit, kale, cabbage, collards and turnip greens.

5. FOLIC ACID

~ Basic requirement – 800 mcgs./day
Taken at conception, it wards off the spinal cord abnormalities. While pregnant, folic acid helps the mom make that additional blood supply in addition to supporting both growth of the placenta and the new baby! Believe it or not, the body more readily absorbs folic acid from vitamin supplements and fortified foods like certain flours, bread products, and cereals than it does from food naturally rich in folate (the natural form).

6. FISH OIL (OMEGA 3, or DHA & EPA)

~ Basic Requirement – 1000 mgs./day
These important nutrients perform 3 vital functions in your pregnancy. First, fish oil helps fend off constipation. Second, the omegas 3’s in fish oil reduce the incidence of post partum depression in women who have birthed. Most importantly, they contribute extensively to the neurological and brain development of your baby, which is greatest in the last 3 months of pregnancy through the first 3 months after birth. You can continue taking omega 3’s after birth to help deliver them through that wonderful breast milk and to help keep your spirits high!