In our last blog, we talked about micronutrients–vitamins and minerals your baby needs to grow such as iron, folic acid, calcium, and DHA. While micronutrients provide the foundation, macronutrients are the energy sources that fuel your body and support your baby’s growth and development.
While providing a healthy environment for your baby during these nine months may seem overwhelming, the good news is this: your body was made to use the nutrients you consume to provide for the life that’s inside you. Learning what you can about health and nutrition during this time will make you feel like you’re trying to give this baby the best start in life that you can and will provide some peace of mind.
What are macronutrients, and how can you be sure your diet has what is needed for both you and your baby to thrive? The main way is just to eat a healthy diet that has a balance of each of the following and minimizes highly-processed and fried foods. So, what does a well-balanced diet include?
The macronutrients food contains are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each of these macronutrients provide us with calories or the energy we need to function. When you’re expecting, you need more calories (about 300 more than usual each day) to keep up with the energy your body needs to grow a baby. So, if you find yourself hungry more often, that’s why!
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. During pregnancy, your carbohydrate intake should mainly come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (like beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts). These foods provide essential fiber, vitamins, and minerals, supporting digestion and promoting steady blood sugar levels.
About 40% of your diet should be from quality carbohydrates during pregnancy.
- Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks of life, and during pregnancy, they are crucial for the development of your baby’s organs and tissues. Aim for a variety of protein sources like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and plant-based options such as beans and tofu.
Protein should also make up about 40% of your daily food intake.
- Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are essential for your baby’s brain development and overall growth. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are crucial for cognitive function. Include sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish (e.g. salmon) in your diet. If possible, avoid the unhealthy fats that are found in fried foods–especially fast food.
Recommended total fat intake during pregnancy is about 20%.
Water and Hydration: the Essential plumbing
Imagine a house without running water. It would be difficult to efficiently run a household without the plumbing to get water for drinking, bathing, and washing. Similarly, staying well-hydrated is crucial during pregnancy to support various bodily functions of both mother and baby and to maintain amniotic fluid levels for the baby’s protection. Let thirst be your guide!
Healthcare Provider Guidance: an overseer for the construction of the house
You probably wouldn’t feel comfortable living in a house that had not been built with professional guidance to be sure it meets safety standards. Like a building manager who oversees the construction of a home, a healthcare provider during pregnancy ensures that the mother’s nutrition plan aligns with her specific needs and supports the healthy development of the baby. Regular visits are best.
A doctor can test you for vitamin and mineral deficiencies and provide guidance on supplements if needed.
Personal Choices and Habits: The DIY Component of a Healthy Pregnancy
Just as a homeowner must take care of the upkeep of the house, the mother’s lifestyle choices and habits during pregnancy contribute to the integrity of the nutrition foundation. Eating a balanced diet, avoiding harmful substances, and adopting healthy practices all play a role in nurturing a strong and healthy baby.
As a woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, your well-being and that of your baby matter. Nutrition is a key player in ensuring a healthy pregnancy for you and for the development of your little one.
By trying your best to get micronutrients (see the August blog), essential macronutrients, hydration, and a doctor’s care, you will be building the best beginning for your baby. And, as you strive to make healthy daily choices throughout the pregnancy, you will be providing the environment your baby needs to thrive.
In the midst of a lot of uncertainty, it is possible to enter this chapter of your life with confidence, knowing that you and your body–and what you put in it– have the power to nourish yourself and your baby, setting the stage for a bright and healthy future.
Hope Rising is here for you to provide care, support, and guidance during your pregnancy. We care about YOU!
“Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Quick Tips.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health.gov, https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/pregnancy/nutrition-and-physical-activity/eat-healthy-during-pregnancy-quick-tips. Accessed 26 July 2023
“Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation.” Pubmed, 1 Nov. 2017, nlm.nih.gov. Accessed 16 Aug. 2023.