The pregnant woman should take prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins are essential because they contribute to the healthy development of the fetus. Prenatal vitamins contain necessary levels of iron (30mg daily), vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, zinc, and folate/folic acid (400 mcg), which are essential for fetus development.
Foods rich in vitamin C will assist in the absorption of iron. Monitor for problems related to abdominal discomfort and constipation, as iron must be taken on an empty stomach. For this reason, encourage a diet high in fiber.
An increase in folate is necessary, not only during pregnancy due to the increase in RBC production, but is an important supplement for people planning to become pregnant. It is recommended that a pregnant individual consume 400 mcg of folate per day.
The pregnant individual needs to gain an appropriate amount of weight dependent on their BMI. Underweight individuals should gain approximately 12.5-18 kg (28-40 lbs), normal-weight individuals should gain roughly 11.5-16.5 kg (25-35 lbs), overweight individuals should gain 7-11.5 kg (15-25 lbs), and obese individuals should gain 5-9 kg (11-20 lbs).
During the first trimester, there is no additional kcal intake recommended. The second and third trimesters require a 340-452 kcal/day increase in intake. This increase is not a large amount of food; it typically includes one additional serving from the following food groups: dairy/milk, fruit, vegetable, and bread (rice, cereal, or pasta).
Most well-nourished individuals have high protein intake, so they may not need to increase protein intake during pregnancy based on their current diet. However, if this is not the case, guidelines recommend a 25 gram protein increase. A careful diet history can determine if an adequate amount of protein is available in the individual’s diet.
The pregnant individual should avoid several substances due to their harmful effects on the fetus. These include items such as coffee and other caffeinated beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, and excessive sugar intake.
People desiring to be pregnant and those newly diagnosed as pregnant should avoid fish high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. They should also limit intake to 6 ounces per week. Up to 12 ounces per week of the following fish can be consumed, as they are considered to have low levels of mercury: shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, and canned light tuna (limit intake of albacore or white tuna to 6 ounces).
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