3 Important Pregnancy Nutrition Tips

If you just found out you are pregnant, then you may wonder exactly how you should change your diet to help ensure it meets both your and your unborn child's nutritional requirements. While the OB/GYN doctor you visit for any of your pregnancy care will provide you more nutritional guidance, you should read on to learn three important pregnancy nutrition tips that every expectant mother should know.

Aim to Eat an Average of 300 Extra Calories Each Day

Most pregnant women should increase their daily calorie intake to encourage their baby's healthy growth while also meeting their own nutritional needs. For this reason, the average pregnant woman should eat about 300 additional calories a day during their pregnancy. 

However, an expectant mother's caloric needs vary based on the current pregnancy trimester, so don't worry if you experience morning sickness that prevents you from consuming extra food early on during your pregnancy. In fact, while the average pregnant woman should eat about 2,400 calories during their third trimester of pregnancy, a healthy diet during the first trimester can contain a mere 1,800 calories. 

Consume Plenty of Folic Acids

While it is important to eat an overall well-balanced diet during pregnancy that is filled with all of the vitamins and minerals that support overall good health, one vitamin that is especially important for healthy baby development during pregnancy is folic acid or vitamin B9. Proper intake of this vitamin helps prevent many birth defects, including many problems with the brain and/or spinal cord, and premature birth. One well-known birth defect that lack of proper folic acid intake can contribute to is spina bifida. 

Aim to consume between 400 and 1,000 mcg of folic acid every day while pregnant. Good sources of folic acid, also called folate, include fortified cereals, many types of beans, some leafy greens, and peanuts. 

Increase Your Iron Intake

While anyone can develop iron deficiency anemia if their diet does not include enough of this important mineral, pregnant women are more prone to the development of this health problem. An expectant mother's iron need increases during pregnancy when her blood volume increases and her body must create extra hemoglobin, which is the blood component that transports oxygen to her unborn child. The creation of this extra hemoglobin requires iron. 

For this reason, health professionals advise pregnant women to consume about 27 milligrams of iron each day to prevent the iron deficiency anemia that lack of adequate iron consumption can cause. When an expectant mother develops severe iron deficiency anemia, this health problem can increase the chance of early labor and/or having a baby with a low birth weight. 

If you think that you may be pregnant or know that you are expecting, then keep these three pregnancy nutrition tips in mind to stay healthy and encourage the healthy development of your unborn child. Also, be sure to visit an OB/GYN soon to begin medical pregnancy care.