By Paige Green, Hy-Vee Dietitian on Wednesday, May 8, 2019

What a mom-to-be's meal plan should really look like

May is the mother of all months. Literally. Mother’s Day is May 12.

We all have that special lady in our life, but for the new moms out there (or those who are planning on becoming pregnant in the future), this blog is for you. As a mother, we all want the best for our littles, and it starts the moment you see those two little lines. Providing the right nutrition is the best gift you can give your baby while you anticipate their arrival.    


Grow the belly with the goods

Wherever you go, they go, too! Therefore, it’s important to understand that pregnancy requires just a bit more awareness in regards to essential nutrients, including folic acid, calcium, and iron, to grow that beautiful bundle of joy.

Folic acid: Also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is crucial in helping prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Recommendation: 600 mcg/day is an amount commonly found in your prenatal vitamin. (Food sources: Dark, leafy greens, fortified cereals, breads, beans, and citrus fruits).

Calcium: Calcium helps build the baby’s bones and teeth. If a pregnant woman doesn’t consume enough calcium, it will be drawn from her stores and given to the baby. Goal: 1000 mg/day. (Food sources: Dairy, leafy greens).

Iron: 27 mg of iron is the goal when pregnant, which is double the amount needed by women who are not expecting. Additional amounts are essential to make more blood to supply the baby with oxygen. Too little of this mineral can lead to fatigue. (Food sources: Meat, poultry, fish, beans, peas, and iron-fortified cereals.)

RECIPE: Increase your milk supply with lactation cookies

Off-limit foods for expecting moms

Caffeine: Before you see this and think, “I can’t have caffeine?” – don’t fret. Consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine a day, or ~two cups of coffee is considered safe during pregnancy.

Fish: Not only is it a good source of protein, it’s full of heart healthy omega-3s. So, what exactly is the dish on fish? During pregnancy, it’s safe to consume 8-12 oz. of low mercury seafood a week, such as salmon, herring, trout, and sardines. The fish you should steer clear of are swordfish, shark, and king mackerel.

Alcohol: This may be a no brainer, but it’s time to put the cocktails down. Alcohol in the mother’s blood can pass directly to the baby and has been linked with fetal alcohol disorders, or physical and mental damage in the baby.

Raw meat: Time to order your steaks well done for the next 40 weeks. Well-cooked meats, will prevent an infection to the baby which can cause mental disabilities later in life. This also includes saying "no" to sushi, and raw/undercooked eggs.

Glowing and growing

Weight gain in pregnancy is inevitable. Yet, as a reminder, there is a fine line between eating for two and eating twice as much. You certainly should be increasing the amount of certain nutrients (as discussed above), but you only need about 300 more calories per day. Excessive energy intake can increase your risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and all the aches and pains associated with extra pounds. 

paigePaige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the Waukee Hy-Vee.