Pregnancy and the time you spend breast feeding can be some of the most cherished and magical times in your life. The connection with the little life that you have helped to grow and sustain is often the greatest love one will ever experience. It can also be a time of great stress and worry.
Knowing that you are the main source of nutrients for a rapidly growing life can be scary! But it doesn’t have to be. Knowing just a few basic things about your body’s nutritional needs can make the whole thing feel far less frightening.
Here’s What you need to know about your nutritional needs during pregnancy or lactation
1. Your caloric needs will increase by about 3-4 hundred calories a day while pregnant. This will bring the average woman’s calorie requirement to around 2400-2600 calories per day. During lactation you will need slightly more than when you were pregnant, which will put you at about 5-6 hundred calories above normal. Eating two or three extra pieces of fruit, or an extra smoothie in your day will be enough to get you where you need to be. The best thing you can do is focus on nutrient and calorie dense foods like fruits, nuts and seeds.
2. Your protein requirements double during pregnancy and lactation. This is no reason to reach for meat and dairy however! You will need between 75-85 grams of protein per day, which is easily attained on a vegan, and even raw diet. One half cup of sun flower seeds has around 15 grams, fresh green peas has around 8 grams a cup, and one cup of broccoli has around 3 grams. So long as you are eating sufficient calories from a wide variety of sources, you should easily reach the daily recommended amount. If you feel you need a boost, hemp seeds and hemp seed protein isolates are excellent options.
3. You will need extra calcium! Your baby will act like a bit of a leach while it is in your belly, and your body will draw on its own stores of nutrients to produce quality breast milk. This means that it is extra important for you to nourish you bones and your muscles with adequate calcium. The recommended intake of calcium whilst you are pregnant and breast feeding is around 1200mg’s per day. Amazing sources of raw plant based calcium are sesame seeds, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables.
4. Folic acid is a hot topic for pregnant women, and for good reason. Folic acid is important in the prevention of neural tube defects. 400Mgs per day is enough to protect your precious baby. This can be attained through eating leafy green vegetables and orange juice. Studies suggest taking supplements with folic acid have dangerous effects on both mother and child later in life, so get your folic acid through the food you eat.
5. One last thing I would like to mention about pregnancy and lactation is that neither of these times are times to pursue fat loss. Women must gain at least 24 pounds during a healthy pregnancy, which will be divided among the baby, extra fluid and extra tissue. The process of breast feeding will encourage the body to burn stored fat. Fat loss is a detoxification process, so if you are doing it during pregnancy or lactation, all of those released toxins are going to go straight into your baby. Remember, you are only pregnant for a short time, there is plenty of time later to reach your goal weight! For now, focus on nourishing yourself and the new little life you have in your possession.
There is no need to stress about nutrition when you are pregnant or lactating. Just follow common sense, eat lots of nutrient dense foods, and enjoy the process.
Ali completed her first diploma in Holistic Nutrition in 2008, Graduating from the Alive Academy. She completed her Hatha Yoga Teacher Training with YogaWorks in 2010, and is currently upgrading her studies at the Institute Of Holistic Nutrition, where she will soon graduate with her Ortho-Molecular Practitioner Designation. She believes that the body is fully capable of healing itself, so long as it is given all the tools to do so.