10 Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition During Pregnancy

There are a number of frequently asked questions about nutrition during pregnancy. Today we'll try to answer as many of them as possible.
10 Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition During Pregnancy

Last update: 18 February, 2023

Despite the continuous and abundant information about nutrition during pregnancy, there are still many doubts and frequently asked questions on the subject. The most common ones have to do with being overweight, how much to eat, supplements, exercise, and calories, among others.

Each question asked by the pregnant woman can influence the decision-making process that affects the development and good outcome of her pregnancy. In this article, we’ll bring you the best answers that will allow you to clarify your doubts with confidence. Join us.

Write down these questions about nutrition during pregnancy and their answers

There are several sociocultural factors that influence the preferences and beliefs of pregnant women. In many aspects, their eating behavior is influenced by myths, taboos, or even messages from pseudo health professionals, as explained by a group of experts. In this regard, the 10 questions that pregnant women most frequently about nutrition during pregnancy are detailed below.

Should I consume more calories during pregnancy?

From the second trimester onwards, more calories should be consumed, but not to the extreme. Some mothers think that they can eat for two and that their increased hunger is a reflection of their baby’s needs, but this is wrong. While it’s true that the requirements are increased by all the tissues and organs to be formed, you should only eat what’s stipulated by health professionals.

During the last 6 months of pregnancy, the demand increases by 300 calories per day, resulting in between 1900 and 2500 calories per day. But these values may vary according to pre-pregnancy weight, age, and physical activity, among other factors. It’s ideal that you consult your obstetrician and nutritionist to calculate your caloric surplus.

How much weight should I gain?

Doctors talk about a 20 percent weight gain in relation to your pre-pregnancy weight. On average, this is about 26 pounds. Others talk about 30 and even 35 pounds. However, everything will depend on your needs and pre-pregnancy weight. Therefore, it will be the professionals who will evaluate your weight control.

A pregnant woman standing on a scale.
In general, women experience a 20% weight gain during pregnancy. In addition, their diet should be personalized and adjusted to the nutritional needs of the mother and baby.

What foods should I not eat during pregnancy?

There are several foods that aren’t indicated for a healthy pregnancy. For example, those food products that are industrialized or ultra-processed or contain additives, or saturated, hydrogenated, or trans fats. Foodstuffs that aren’t subjected to heat should also be discarded. In addition, raw products can be a source of disease-causing bacteria and fungi.

These food groups include the following:

  • Sodas and sugary/energy drinks
  • Snacks based on flour, fats, and artificial colors
  • French fries, industrial pizzas, and nuggets
  • Precooked products
  • Sugary dairy products
  • Processed meats
  • Refined cereals
  • Industrial pastries, cookies, and desserts
  • Raw meat and fish, pâtés, and meat spreads
  • Unpasteurized milk and fresh milk cheeses
  • Fish contaminated with mercury, such as swordfish, shark, and tuna, among others

4. Can I drink coffee and alcoholic beverages?

Experts suggest that pregnant women should limit caffeine consumption to less than 200 milligrams per day. This is the equivalent of about 1 cup of 12 ounces of coffee a day. In addition, water should never be substituted with coffee.

At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reiterates that pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy shouldn’t drink any alcoholic beverages. These are capable of producing physical, intellectual, and behavioral disabilities in babies.

Are supplements necessary?

Ideally, a healthy eating plan can supply the extra requirements of certain nutrients during pregnancy. Such is the case of vitamins D and B12, folic acid, iron, calcium, and zinc. However, their requirements are so high that it’s difficult to meet them through diet alone. For this reason, doctors recommend prenatal supplements, especially during the first trimester.

How do I avoid constipation?

Pregnant women suffer from constipation with high frequency. This is due to the release of certain pregnancy hormones, such as progesterone, which relaxes the intestines. In addition, the pressure caused by the growing baby in the mother’s uterus can cause obstruction. In addition, stools become harder due to less water reabsorption in the colon.

To avoid this, 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day should be included in the diet. This can be achieved through vegetables, fruits, whole grains, oats, barley, legumes, and wheat bran. Soluble and insoluble fiber keeps stools softer and increases bowel movement.

Read also: All About Constipation During Pregnancy

How do I avoid nausea and vomiting?

Vomiting and nausea are part of the physiological process of pregnancy, which can sometimes make it impossible to eat well. For this reason, some studies recommend the following:

  • Small but frequent meals
  • Prefering cold and solid foods, and avoiding liquids in the morning
  • Low seasoning of food
  • Avoid fried and fatty foods

In addition, include dry and solid foods, such as bread, toast, and crackers, chewing well and slowly. It’s also a good idea to drink take ginger infusions.

In both vegetarian and vegan diets, you must ensure that you have all the nutrients necessary for pregnancy. It’s key not to forget the indication of nutritional supplements from your obstetrician.

The first thing to ensure in a vegetarian diet is that you receive all the nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Keep in mind that vegetables don’t provide all the nutrients that are critical for pregnancy. For example, iron is found in legumes and green leafy vegetables, but they’re not well absorbed. Calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D don’t appear in optimal quantities either.

Can I drink any type of herbal tea?

Not all herbal teas are indicated when it comes to nutrition during pregnancy, as some herbs can have counterproductive effects. It is preferable to use those prepared commercially in tea bags. According to the journal Actualización en Nutrición, those that are supported by science include ginger, chamomile, linden, and peppermint. No more than 2 to 3 cups per day are recommended, and you should combine them during the week.

10. Should I stop exercising?

Exercise will always be positive for the well-being of the mother and baby. However, medical authorization is required, as in some conditions, such as placenta previa or threats of premature delivery, it could be contraindicated. The safest exercises to perform are those of mild to moderate intensity, such as walking, swimming, or slow-speed exercise cycling.

A final thought

If you have additional questions about nutrition during pregnancy, consult with your dietitian or health care professional. Also, attend your regular checkups and always talk to your obstetrician about any concerns or problems.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.