Pregnancy Articles

Pregnancy Nutrition 101

BabyFit Tools Make Healthy Eating Easy

Your unborn baby is entirely dependent on you for nourishment. What you eat now matters more than ever. Studies show that what you eat is linked to the baby's risk of birth defects, susceptibility to infection, and birth weight. Proper nutrition is one of the easiest, best and most important ways to have a smooth pregnancy and give your child the best start in life.

The purpose of BabyFit is to assist you in developing and maintaining proper nutrition and fitness during pregnancy. BabyFit will help assure you that you and your baby are receiving the nutrients you need while you are pregnant. You will receive tips on how to successfully deal with pregnancy discomforts, and you will be able to monitor your nutrient intake and weight gain throughout the pregnancy term. By setting goals and following step-by-step examples in your personalized plan (which includes an optional moderate exercise program), you will you will be doing something very special for you and your baby.

Nutrition Basics
There are many benefits to the mom and baby in regards to proper nutrition. Eating right means knowing not only what to eat but also knowing what to avoid. Pregnancy is NOT the time to be on a weight loss program. It is, however, a wonderful time to give yourself a plentiful supply of nutrients and not stress about the day to day changing appearance of your body. Specifically, you need 300 extra calories a day, and it matters where you get them.

Eating Well and Your Pregnancy:
  • Good nutrition counteracts some of the risks of low birth weight, susceptibility to infection and birth defects.

  • What you eat has an effect on complications such as anemia and preeclampsia (which is more common with undernourished women).

  • Eating has an effect on your comfort level and can impact fatigue, morning sickness, constipation and leg cramps.

  • Eating has an effect on your delivery. Women on excellent diets are less likely than women on poor diets to deliver early (deficiency in zinc is tied to early labor).

  • Eating has an effect on postpartum recovery. A well nourished body recovers faster and weight gained in a nutritionally smart way, at a sensible rate, comes off faster.

  • Get more per bite. Not all food is created equal, and you can get more nutritional value by making good choices. A cup of skim milk can give you the same amount of calcium as a cup of ice cream but with a quarter of the calories.

  • Adding fiber to your diet can help you avoid problems like constipation and hemorrhoids.

  • Track your water intake so you can stay properly hydrated. Water is very important for expecting mothers because it carries waste products from cells and helps your liver and kidneys take care of baby waste, too.

  • Take a prenatal supplement. This is a great safety net and preventative measure, but it is still best to get as many key nutrients as you can from real food. Nutrients from food are of a different quality and are absorbed more easily into your system.

  • Know which foods to avoid. Some foods have risky levels of mercury (like swordfish, shark, king mackerel) and others put you at risk of bacteria related problems (like raw seafood, uncooked eggs, soft cheeses like brie and feta, and deli meats). There are even some vegetables, juices and teas you should avoid.

Keep on Top of Your Nutrition
BabyFit keeps you on top of your nutrition. Rest assured that you will know where your calories and nutrients are coming from (and how much you're getting) when you use BabyFit. BabyFit uses the proprietary SparkPeople nutrition database and nutrient calculation engine to give you an accurate recording and measurement of all the food you eat. In addition to tracking fat and calories you will also be able to monitor critical nutritional factors such as:

Protein: The building material for mom's muscles, teeth, and bones are also instrumental in normal growth patterns and immune system antibodies.

Minerals: These are super important during pregnancy. Minerals, like iron, support the increase in blood volume you need in pregnancy while other minerals, like calcium and zinc, are critical to maintaining healthy bones and promote healing and protein synthesis.

Vitamins: With BabyFit you will also get an accurate tracking of folate, a vitamin found to play a role in the most common birth defects (i.e., neural tube defects). You will need a prenatal supplement to get the recommended 600 micrograms of folate per day, but it is best to get as much as you can from food. BabyFit will help you do that, and you can add many other key vitamins and minerals in addition to the ones mentioned here.

Food Guide Pyramid
BabyFit follows the Doctor Recommended Food Guide Pyramid for Pregnant Mothers so you can make smarter choices about what to eat.

When determining what to eat each day to meet your nutrition needs and your baby's, it is important to choose items from all the food groups to provide a healthy, well-balanced diet. According to the USDA Food Guide Pyramid and the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for an average pregnant woman, you should strive to consume:

  • 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta

  • 3-5 servings of vegetables

  • 2-4 servings of fruits

  • 3-5 servings of milk, yogurt and cheese

  • 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts

  • 8 8-ounce glasses of water

  • You should also limit caffeine containing beverages to no more than 2 cups per day.

    Also included in BabyFit are menu plans and recipes that follow the food guidelines you see above. These are delicious and nutritious, mom tested recipes and meal plans that are guaranteed to please even the most finicky of eaters. You'll love the collection of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack food ideas. Also included is a section on easy cooking methods and making food that is convenient for busy moms. Just drop these snacks in your purse, and you're ready to go!

    Keep Track of Your Weight Gain
    BabyFit will also help you track your weight gain: The American Dietetics Association recommends that the average woman gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Women who are underweight before pregnancy should gain slightly more (about 28-40 pounds) and women who are overweight should gain a little less (about 15-25 pounds). Average weight gain for the first three months is around 2 to 6 pounds. After the first trimester, however; weight gain should average .75 to 1 pound a week. This is all variable; some months you may gain more or less weight. With BabyFit, you can track your progress by weighing in once a week and making sure you are have consistent weight gain. If you have any questions about your weight gain and feel that you are not gaining enough or gaining too much, you should talk to your health care provider.

    BabyFit gives you recommendations and an action plan for dealing with the six most common pregnancy discomforts:

    • Morning Sickness: (and noon and night sickness!) Learning how to stay away from certain smells, trigger foods and staying hydrated can make all the difference.

    • Heartburn: This one is responsible for making many women miserable throughout much of their pregnancy. It doesn't have to be this way! Learn what you should avoid (like broccoli and caffeine) and how sleeping in a recliner can give you some relief.

    • Constipation: This is pretty common, and fortunately there are many remedies out there. Find out how making simple changes in your diet, like getting more fiber and fluids, can help you take control of your regularity.

    • Leg Cramps: These can bring spasms of incredible pain and create restless sleep patterns. BabyFit will give you the tips and tricks (like cutting back on soda and processed foods) to keep the leg cramps away.

    • Swelling: Women swell in their feet, ankles and hands during pregnancy. There are several things you can do to increase circulation, stop the swelling, and stay more comfortable during your pregnancy.

    • Lactose Intolerance: A person with lactose intolerance has difficulty digesting the sugar found in milk. If you have frequent abdominal pain, bloating, cramps or diarrhea, you may have lactose intolerance. Ask your doctor about this, and check out BabyFit for smart substitutions to get the calcium you need.

      Resource Center
      Our Resource Center is packed with articles, links and even exercise demonstrations you can do at home. In the resource center, you are sure to find some helpful information, interesting tips and hints, and articles that address the most common concerns of new moms. Plus, you can find info on issues -- like what it means to be a vegetarian and get proper nutrition while pregnant. You will also find lots of helpful information about pregnancy fitness. You'll not only learn about the basics but also about specific exercises for different parts of your body (e.g., core, upper body, lower body and stretches) and how to do them.

      The links and content in the resource center are updated all the time, so be sure to come back and visit this portion of the site frequently.

      Get the Support You Need When You Need It
      One of the things you'll love most about BabyFit is the community of women who are experiencing the same exciting changes (and not-so-exciting discomforts) as you are. The best part is that these moms know what works and they share their tips pretty freely. We also provide support in the special "ask the dietitian" feature. Our registered dietitian Becky Hand specializes in nutrition concerns around pregnancy and is a member of the Childbirth Education Association. You can get help from Becky by sending her an email at

      Consult with your health care provider before beginning any nutrition or exercise program
      Check with your health care provider or registered dietitian to determine how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. It is also important to first consult your physician before continuing or starting any physical activity program when you are pregnant. Ask your doctor about any precautions you need to take before you begin working out and be sure to tell them about any pre-existing conditions or injuries you may have experienced.

      For most women, pregnancy is a time of happy anticipation, exhilaration and confusion. Sometimes it is hard to relax and there seems to be so much to think about! BabyFit is here to help you. Our personalized nutrition plan, combined with our resources and support, will help you feel your best during your pregnancy and give your baby the best start possible. You are making some great choices already and you should feel good about that. OK, Mom, you're ready to go!

      By the way, did we mention that we also have dessert recipes?

      This article was reviewed by Tanya Jolliffe, a BabyFit healthy eating expert.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1  

Member Comments

There are currently no comments on this article