Pregnancy Nutrition: What You Need to Know

By Guest Blogger Lauren Mardeusz RD

Along with being one of the most joyful times in your life, pregnancy is demanding on your body and your hormones! Being pregnant requires extra energy and nutrition to ensure the health and well-being of both mom and baby. Eating a well-balanced diet during pregnancy provides essential nutrients that support the development of your growing baby, and prepares the body for the demands of childbirth!

Diversify Your Plate with Colorful Fruits and Vegetables

One of the fundamental principles of a healthy pregnancy diet is to include a variety of fruits and vegetables. These nutrient-packed foods provide a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants crucial for fetal development. Aim to fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, and sweet potatoes. These foods not only support your baby’s growth but also contribute to your overall well-being.

Prioritize Protein for Optimal Development

Protein is paramount during pregnancy as it plays a crucial role in the development of the baby’s organs, muscles, and tissues. Adequate protein intake is essential for supporting the rapid growth and formation of the placenta, amniotic fluid, and fetal cells! Protein also contributes to the production of enzymes and hormones necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Including lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, tofu, legumes, and nuts in the diet ensures that both the mother and the growing baby receive the essential amino acids required for optimal development, making it a cornerstone of a well-balanced and nutritious pregnancy diet.

Stay Adequately Hydrated

There’s no getting around the increase in trips to the bathroom during pregnancy! Your growing uterus will put pressure on your bladder, increasing the need to use the restroom, but this is not a reason to avoid water! Did you know that your blood volume increases by up to 50% during pregnancy?! Water is essential to support this increase in blood volume and to produce amniotic fluid.  Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, and more if you’re physically active or experiencing hot weather. Adequate hydration can also help alleviate common pregnancy discomforts like swelling and constipation.

Small, Frequent Meals to Manage Nausea and Energy Levels

Growing another human is a lot of work! Many pregnant women experience nausea, especially during the first trimester. To manage this, opt for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This can help stabilize blood sugar levels and ease nausea symptoms. Keeping small snacks on hand can also help keep your stomach from becoming empty which can increase nausea. Include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats in each meal to provide sustained energy and keep you feeling satisfied.

Supplement Wisely with Prenatal Vitamins

Despite a well-rounded diet, it can be challenging to meet all the nutritional needs during pregnancy through food alone. Prenatal vitamins can help fill the gaps, providing essential nutrients like folic acid, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Consult with your dietitian to determine the most suitable prenatal supplement for your individual needs.

Nutrition is a cornerstone of a healthy pregnancy, and making mindful choices can have a significant impact on the health of mom and baby. By incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, staying hydrated, and making wise supplement choices, expecting mothers can nurture their bodies and provide optimal conditions for their baby’s growth and development. Remember, each pregnancy is unique, so it’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals to tailor your nutrition plan to your specific needs. Embrace this journey with the knowledge that you are nourishing not only yourself but also your brand-new addition. Congratulations!

Lauren is a registered dietitian in Greensboro. Originally from Michigan, she has lived in the triad for the past eight years and loved making it home. With an educational and research background in perinatal nutrition, Lauren educates and supports women who are looking to improve their health through a nutrition-focused lens. She takes a non-diet, body-positive approach to nutrition therapy and teaches women how to heal, balance, and support their hormones. You can contact her here

Want to get notifications on local events and happenings in the Triad? Subscribe to TMoM’s free weekly newsletters here.