Pregnancy Nutrition Requirements

Traditionally, caloric requirements during pregnancy have been estimated to be around an additional 300 calories per day. However, this must be adjusted for physical activity and prepregnancy weight (see accompanying figure) for the recommended number of servings of food groups). To meet weight-gain recommendations, a woman with a low prepregnancy BMI and a high activity level would require more calories than a woman with a high prepregnancy BMI and a sedentary lifestyle. A variety of foods from all food groups is important, since foods within the same food group do not contain exactly the same amount of nutrients. If increased weight gain is recommended, an emphasis should be placed on high-calorie food group items that contain a higher fat and sugar content. When less weight gain is recommended, women should choose from the lower-calorie food group choices.

Recommendations regarding sugar intake for pregnant women depend on weight gain and maternal blood glucose levels. A high sugar intake would not be advisable for women gaining more than the recommended weight or for those women who are having difficulty controlling normal blood glucose levels, while a high sugar intake would be beneficial for women requiring increased weight gain. A high sugar intake for women who are experiencing excessive weight gain or having difficulty maintaining normal glucose levels could result in increased maternal risk for complications associated with too much weight gain, such as diabetes, hypertension, premature delivery, and a large for gestational age fetus.

Adequate fluid intake is important to maintain hemodynamics (blood circulation) and homeostasis (fluid and tissue balance) and to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. All pregnant women are encouraged to consume at least 64 ounces of fluid daily. Women at risk of gaining too much weight should be cautioned to limit their intake of sweetened fluids, including juice, and to consume more water. Exercise is considered healthful for most pregnant women, who should be encouraged to continue to exercise at prepregnancy levels. However, women should be cautious about

This human fetus is in the second trimester of development, a time when fetal weight gain begins to accelerate. Pregnant women should increase caloric intake by approximately 300 calories per day to account for rapid fetal growth. Calcium and iron supplements may also be necessary. [Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.]

This human fetus is in the second trimester of development, a time when fetal weight gain begins to accelerate. Pregnant women should increase caloric intake by approximately 300 calories per day to account for rapid fetal growth. Calcium and iron supplements may also be necessary. [Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.]

beginning any new exercise program during pregnancy, and, if medically advised, should avoid certain activities. Health care providers may recommend bed rest and limiting physical activity (such as work) when preterm labor is present or when weight gain is poor. Increased physical activity will control excess weight gain, in addition to the normal beneficial physical and emotional effects.

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