Health and Nutrition Tips for Pregnancy (Part 1)

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Nourishing the Future: Health and Nutrition Tips for Pregnancy

Today’s guest post is written by Yvette Ladd, a pharmacist, yoga teacher, and Professional Yoga Therapist candidate who is currently pursuing her masters in nutrition science. Read more about Yvette. 


Scientists are increasingly discovering that a mother’s health and nutrition during preconception and pregnancy have a profound effect on the health of the infant and that patterns of disease in adulthood can be traced to infant nutrition. -Patrick Holford, The New Optimum Nutrition Bible

The lifestyle choices you and your partner make before and during pregnancy have a powerful influence on the lifelong health and wellbeing of your child. Healthy lifestyle choices begin at least six-months prior to pregnancy and include whole foods nutrition, adequate hydration, regular exercise, stress management, quality sleep and surroundings that encourage good health physically, socially and emotionally. Avoiding harmful chemicals in cigarettes, household products and health and beauty aids is also an important part of protecting your baby’s health.7 As your pregnancy progresses, nutrition and exercise choices need to be adjusted to the increased size and demands for energy of your growing baby. Additionally, you may require more rest and extra help from family or friends with daily tasks and chores.

The First Trimester

During the first trimester of pregnancy your body undergoes a flurry of hormonal changes as it prepares to host the embryo. ‘Morning sickness’, while considered a normal symptom of early pregnancy may be an indication of nutrient imbalance. Vitamin B6 and vitamins K and C taken as nutritional supplements have been used effectively for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy5 and can also be found in spinach and other dark, leafy green vegetables, bell peppers, cauliflower and broccoli. Some women find ginger, in food and supplement form, to be useful and eating small, frequent meals throughout the day may help alleviate symptoms.

It is also during the first trimester and into the second that the essential structures of your baby’s major organs and systems develop3. Optimal nutrition is extremely important to support the growth and development of these tissues so as to avoid physical malformations, defects or functional deficiencies. Of particular importance during pregnancy are essential fats and protein and it is crucial that adequate, high-quality calories are consumed.

Fat intake during pregnancy should make up 20 to 35% of total calories and protein needs increase by about one-third, to at least 70g per day.3 The essential fatty acid known as DHA is important to the development of the brain, which is the center of the nervous system, and to tissues of the eye as are cholesterol and arachadonic acid. Fat is also necessary for the absorption and utilization of the fat-soluble vitamins. DHA and vitamins A and D and choline, another brain nutrient, can be found in a combination of quality cod liver oil, free-range eggs and ‘clean’ fish (see the Resources section). Plant-based sources of healthy fats are raw nuts and seeds, coconut and olive oils.

High-quality protein can be found in wild-caught cod and salmon, free-range eggs and chicken, grass-fed beef, wild venison or turkey, raw or whole, organic dairy products (purchased from a reputable source). Good plant sources of protein include spinach, asparagus and Swiss chard. Regular consumption of soy products is not recommended during pregnancy due to potential hormone influence on the developing fetus. If soy products are consumed on occasion look for non-GMO or fermented products.

Folate, iron, magnesium and calcium are also vital to a healthy pregnancy and fetal development. Folate, also sometimes referred to as folic acid, is generally recommended to be a part of your daily nutrition habits before you become pregnant and may be depleted if you have been using hormonal contraception. Most of these nutrients are present in the recommendations for whole-fat dairy and dark green vegetables previously mentioned, though other food sources do exist.

The Second & Third Trimesters

During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, you may experience symptoms of heartburn or constipation. Chewing your food thoroughly, avoiding caffeine and other beverages that contain sugar and artificial sweeteners and consuming adequate fiber in your diet will aid in optimal digestion. Fibrous foods include fresh or soft-cooked vegetables, berries, some beans and whole (pre-soaked) oats. Smaller, frequent meals can also help. Green leafy vegetables provide magnesium, which is useful in preventing and resolving constipation.

Throughout pregnancy your beverage of choice should be water2, striving for 8 -10 eight-ounce glasses per day. Avoid drinking with meals to ensure adequate acid production for optimal digestion.

The health and success of your child begins before you become pregnant and extends for their lifetime. Making health supportive habits a part of your lifestyle and continuing them as your child grows will offer them the best opportunity for a long and healthy life.

Part 2 of this post will discuss other guidelines for a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, as well as resources.


  1. Academy of nutrition and dietetics. (2013, January). Your Food and Nutrition Source It’s About Eating Right. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from Eat Right: www.eatright.org
  2. Baby Center, LLC. (2014, April). http://www.babycenter.in/a1015418/why-is-it-important-to-drink-water-during-pregnancy. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from Baby Center: http://www.babycenter.in
  3. Beerman, M. M. (2011). Life Cycle Nutrition. In M. M. Beerman, Nutritional Sciences From Fundamentals to Food (p. 624). Belmont, CA: Wadswoth Cengage Learning.
  4. Metz, G. A., & Zucchi, F. C. (2013, February 22). Maternal stress induces epigenetic signatures of ps… [PLoS One. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3579944/
  5. Michael Murray, N. a. (1998). Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd edition. Rocklin, CA, 95677: Prima Publishing.
  6. WebMD. (2012, August 15). Health and Pregnancy. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com: http://www.webmd.com/baby/exercise-during-pregnancy
  7. Zissu, A. (2013, October 29). http://healthychild.org/verdict-is-in-doctors-should-advise-patients-about-harmful-chemicals/. Retrieved May 12 2014, from Healthy Child Healthy World: http://healthychild.org

About the Author

Yvette Ladd
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Yvette Ladd RPh, PYT-C, RYT

Yvette is a Registered Pharmacist, Registered Yoga Teacher and an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, practicing in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Yvette is the owner of Wellness Pursuits. Her love and curiosity of the human body has long inspired her pursuit of personal wellness and fuels her current teachings and service offerings to her clients. She believes that when provided the proper resources our bodies have extraordinary potential to carry us through a long and vibrant life.

Yvette’s Integrated Health and Wellness programs are a fusion of her education and experience in the health and fitness professions and offer her clients a customized healing path with regard to the whole person. Utilizing modalities such as movement practices (exercise/yoga), conscious nutrition, nurturing routines and a supportive environment, clients can reestablish equilibrium and create optimal health, allowing them the freedom and energy to enjoy a full life.

Yvette is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Holistic Nutrition from Hawthorn University and her Professional Yoga Therapy certification from Professional Yoga Therapy Studies.

Yvette can be reached via www.wellness-pursuits.com or by email ypladd@gmail.com

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