Calorie Needs During Pregnancy

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Primary Blog/Calorie Needs During Pregnancy

While pregnancy does require extra calories to support the growing fetus, calorie needs vary based on individual, pre-pregnancy weight, and how many babies a woman is carrying.

For the average woman, whose pre-pregnancy weight was within the desirable range (a BMI of around 20-24.5), it is recommended that she roughly consume 350-450 additional calories per day during her second and third trimesters. (Calorie needs actually don't exceed beyond what was previously required in the first trimester.) An additional 350 calories per day can look like a fruit smoothie made with yogurt and skim milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or one cup of oatmeal with walnuts and raisins. .

Why is this important?

Eating too many calories during pregnancy can lead to excess weight gain.

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy (the recommended weight gain for a woman with a health pre-pregnancy weight is 25-35 lbs) can increase risk for complications. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can increase risk for high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth, gestational diabetes, a baby who is large for gestational age, and need for cesarean delivery.

To ensure you are consuming adequate nutrients during pregnancy, try to get foods from all of the food groups - aiming for at least 2 cups of fruit and 3-4 cups of veggies every day (1 small apple = 1 cup). Aim for protein-rich foods with each meal/snack - high protein foods include eggs, peanut butter, meat, chicken, fish, beans, and nuts. Remember to avoid fish high in mercury such as bigeye tuna, king mackerel, orange roughy, marlin, shark, swordfish, and tilefish. Limit albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces per week. And ensure you are getting 600 micrograms of folate/folic acid per day (typical prenatal vitamins meet this requirement). Folate is important for preventing neural tube defects, which can occur in the first trimester.

With that said, of course it is ok, and enjoyable to indulge those pregnancy cravings once in a while. After all, a happy Mama is a healthy Mama...and vice versa.

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Hi, I Am Donielle

CEO Of Breast to Table

I am a registered dietitian and international board certified lactation consultant. I am also a mom of two. I had a very difficult breastfeeding journey with my oldest and after much support and education, I realized my desire to help others in their journeys. My expertise is in helping women optimize their nutrition during pregnancy, postpartum and throughout their breastfeeding journey. I also help families introduce solids to their little ones through a baby-led approach. I love working with families from preparing the body for breastfeeding, to eating solid foods and weaning - providing support from breast to table.