Eating for Two
You often hear pregnant women say they are “eating for two.” While that is literally true, if your weight and body mass index (BMI) are within the normal range, you may only need to add 300 calories a day to your diet during pregnancy. That’s equivalent to a glass of skim milk and half a sandwich. Pregnant women also need extra nutrients so be sure your extra calories come from high-quality food.
One way to watch your calories is to replace the standard three meals a day with several nutritious snacks throughout the day. No matter how you choose to get the extra needed calories and nutrients, a healthy diet before you become pregnant, during your pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding is one of the best investments you can make in your baby and yourself.
Research has shown that extra folic acid is needed before you become pregnant. Taking prenatal vitamins before you conceive is shown to help your baby’s neural tube — the future brain and spinal cord — to close properly. If the baby’s neural tube does not close correctly, a very serious birth defect called a neural tube defect may occur.
Your baby is growing rapidly every day during pregnancy. Taking prenatal vitamins daily, along with maintaining a healthy diet, can help sustain that growth and help ensure that your baby begins life healthy by having all the vitamins and minerals needed for optimal growth and development.
If you plan to breastfeed, you’ll be providing all of your baby’s nutrients until he or she starts eating solid food, usually around six months of age. You can continue taking prenatal vitamins during this time to support both yours and your baby’s nutritional needs.
Please consult your health care professional with any dietary concerns.