I am inspired to write this article because my god child is a miracle birth.  Her mom had three miscarriages before she was born and she tried to do everything right.  Before she was pregnant she had bought a dozen of pregnancy books and was determine to do it right.  But one thing that she really wanted to do was to keep her figure while she was pregnant.  She kept herself on strict diet so that she would only gain the most minimal amount of weight allows per week.  But that was her problem; she had focused on the weight but not the nutrition. 

Proper nutrition during pregnancy is important for two reasons, the health of the child and the health of the mother.  Visualize this for a simplified example:  every mg of bone that the new born child has come off the bones of the mother.  If bone mineral was not built up before, during and after pregnancy; the mother will have an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life.  Bone minerals are just a few of the numerous nutritional elements which must be increased in the diet of women as they have their child.  It is recommended that women be on prenatal vitamins one year prior to her planning to be pregnant.  My personal recommendation is that all women should be on a daily multi-vitamin, regardless of their age.  At the very least, women should start prenatal vitamins if they plan on having children at the time that they get engaged. 

First off, it’s important to understand that calories are not the same as nutrition.  Because of the many processed foods in our diet, American diets lack many essential nutrition although loaded with calories.   Nutritiously speaking, these are called empty calories, calories which does not contain vitamins and other nutrition.  The reason that calories alone is not enough to sustain us, let us take the example of bread.  To make bread we need flour, yeast, water, salt (at the very least) and heat to bake.  Calories alone, is just the heating source.  In our bodies, we convert calories to energy and do essential task, but we still need other nutrients and vitamins to carry out those processes.  Baking bread only requires a handful of ingredients, when we make a human being, it takes countless resources, which is why it’s essential fill our diets with more than just empty calories.  It’s recommended that we fill our diets with a broad variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, dairy and essential fatty acids.  The more processed the food is (i.e. canned, dried, freeze dried, frozen) the less nutrient rich the food is. 

According to the March of Dimes, a pregnant woman should increase her daily food portions to include:

  • 6 to 11 servings of breads and other whole grains
  • 3 to 5 servings of vegetables
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits
  • 4 to 6 servings of milk and milk products
  • 3 to 4 servings of meat and protein foods
  • 6 to 8 glasses of water, and no more than one soft drink or cup of coffee per day to limit caffeine and no alcohol.

In my final thought, I’d like to comment on one of my favorite foods, fish.  Fish is overall a great food, it’s high in proteins, vitamins and omega-3-fatty acids.  But large fish (like tuna, salmon, swordfish) contains high amounts of mercury.  While it the amount of mercury is not high enough to affect adults, this amount of mercury may affect your unborn child.  I recommend that all women of child-bearing age stay away from these fish until they’re finish having children.  Instead, try the smaller fishes such as trout, flounder and catfish. 

Forget the calories.  Think nutrition.