Don`t spoil yourself with the thought that once you remain pregnant, you can devour everything you find in your fridge or you can eat anything that you weren`t allowed by now. Yes, a pregnancy requires an increased consumption of energy and nutritive substances for the formation of the fetal organism and changes of the maternal sexual organs (uterus, placenta, mammary glands, etc). Food intake is adjusted depending on the necessities of the organism for the sensation of hunger, this adjustment being coordinated by 2 nerve centers located in the hypothalamus.
At more than half of pregnant women, it`s noticed an accentuated stimulation of the appetite which starts usually at the beginning of the second trimester and lasts until the end of the pregnancy, sometimes decreasing during the last pregnancy months. Also, it`s often noticed frequent changes of the pregnant women`s tastes, the most often being manifested through preferences for fruits, pickles, salty or spicy foods. These preferences or appetites are explained by certain authors as being determined by a necessity of gustatory stimulation which appears during pregnancy. Aversion for certain foods which before the pregnancy were consumed with pleasure can be explained through the occurrence of heartburn or nausea after consuming them. In rare cases can also appear taste perversion, pregnant women feeling the needs to consume non-nutritive substances (soap, lime, coal, toothpaste, etc.)
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How Many Calories While Pregnant?
The first thought when you are thinking at counting calories is related to diets. No one asks you to follow a diet during pregnancy, but only to be careful not to exceed your recommended daily dose.
The natural tendency of pregnant women is to overfeed themselves due to a misconception according to which they must eat for 2. In reality, the necessary intake of calories isn`t modified during the first trimester of pregnancy. This increases during the second trimester only with 300/kcal compared to the caloric necessities before the pregnancy. Overall, the caloric needs of an active pregnant woman are of 2,500 – 3,000 calories/day.
To ensure a healthy development of the fetus, the pregnant woman needs to be sure that those extra calories are brought by the foods rich in nutrients and not by refined sweets and fats.
A woman who isn`t pregnant and has a regular lifestyle should eat around 2.000 calories per day. Some recommendations claim that during the first trimester you shouldn`t add anything to your menu, while in your second trimester you can add 300 calories more to your daily intake. Don`t be too excited! This means that you can eat only a yogurt more and an apple or a banana, not a whole plate of sweets.
On the other hand, some nutritionists say you can start increasing the portions in your first 12 weeks with 300/calories per day, in the second trimester with 350/calories per day and in the last one with 500/kcal per day.
If when you are pregnant, you feel you have too much weight compared with how you should normally be or, on the contrary, you are obese or overweight, then the daily necessary intake changes from one case to another. Calorie intake is established depending on weight, height, lifestyle, body mass index, so before you start increasing your portions, ask a nutritionist how much you should really eat while expecting a baby.
Mothers, who breastfeed at least for 6 months, need a daily intake of 550/calories. Sport during pregnancy in a moderate effort consumes 100kcal/30 minutes. Experts recommend distributing calories as it follows:
- Protein: no more than 20% (1 g of protein = 4 calories);
- Fat: not more than 30% (1 g of lipids = 9.3 calories);
- Carbs: 50% (1 g of carbs = 4 calories). – Read this as well!
How Much Should the Scale Look Like?
No future mother wants to weigh 2 times more at the end of her pregnancy than at the beginning. Not only due to the physical shape, but also due to the problems that may occur. Obesity during pregnancy may lead to premature birth. Moreover, the child will have a greater weight than the normal one, and this will lead to a heavier delivery and may cause the little one several health issues. Therefore, maintaining your weight in normal limits during pregnancy is very important.
- If at the beginning of pregnancy you are one of those women with a normal weight, then you shouldn`t take more than 11 to 15 kg.
- If you are underweight, then you should gain 12 to 18 kg.
- If you are overweight, then you shouldn`t gain more than 6 to 11 kg.
Consequences from Consuming Calories
More calories than necessary during pregnancy has consequences, along with the weight gain and an increased frequency of complications at birth, difficulties in the installation and maintaining of lactation, difficulties in losing weight after birth, an increase of the risk of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders for the child.
In contrast, there`s maternal malnutrition; numerous studies have shown that fetal development depends mainly by the maternal nutritional status as there`s a strong relationship between the mother`s nutritional status and the baby`s weight at birth. This relationship was very obvious during the WWII when long periods of hunger led to an average weight loss to newborns with around 500g. Newborns with low weight at birth, under 2,500g, have a perinatal mortality of 10 – 20 times larger than of normal weight, both through the associated malformations as well as the increased risk of asfyxie, meconium aspiration, hypoglycemia, pulmonary hemorrhage, intracranial, etc. Also, there`s also the risk of long term consequences: late nervous disorders, difficulties of accommodation, behavioral disorders, mental retardation, consequences of brain damage due to intrauterine malnutrition.
Note: It`s not recommended to consider during pregnancy that you can eat anything at anytime. A pregnancy isn`t a competition in which you need to eat as much as you can and the goal isn`t to increase the maternal fat deposits, but rather to ensure the necessary intake of nutrients for a good fetal development. Therefore, a pregnant woman needs only an extra 300kcal.day compared with the necessary intake from before the pregnancy.
2 Times Better, not 2 Times More!
If until becoming pregnant, you had a well balanced diet and you have eaten healthy, you shouldn`t find it too hard to maintain yourself on the right track. During the 9 months, it`s important to take from your daily menu the necessary vitamins and nutrients for the development of your baby. You should consume everyday foods rich in calcium, folic acid and iron. A large amount from the necessary daily intake of these minerals, you`ll take it from the supplements recommended for your doctor, but it`s better if you`ll manage to support it with the intake from your diet as well.
Instead of adding quantity on your plate, it`s best to add quality in the food that you need to consume during pregnancy. Don`t give up on fat completely, but choose the best ones. Hydrate yourself with lots of water and not with juices sweetened artificially. Instead of 3 slices of white bread, choose whole bread, and instead of sweets double your portion of fruits. – Read this!
Here`s the food groups you should include in your diet and how many portions you need to eat:
- Bread, cereals & pasta: between 9 and 11 servings per day.
- Vegetables: 4 – 5 servings per day.
- Fruits: 3 – 4 servings per day.
- Milk, yogurt & cheese: 3 servings per day.
- Meat, fish, eggs & oleaginous fruits: 3 portions per day.