Maternal nutrition requirements increase and change throughout pregnancy and lactation, and there are key nutritional requirements mothers need to have a healthy pregnancy and lactation experience. To encourage education around the topic of micro and macro nutrients during pregnancy and lactation, we’ve got a lot of nutritional advice for new mommies to go over in this post. To make is simpler for easier reading, we are also creating an Ebook for all new mommies to keep and refer too.
Supporting maternal nutritional requirements both during pregnancy and lactation is our number one goal, so we thought we’d answer an important question:
What is nutrition for pregnancy and lactation?
Nutrition for pregnancy and lactation simply means the necessary micro and macro nutrients for mothers to support a growing baby and lactation. There are increased nutritional needs during both pregnancy and lactation, that if not addressed, can cause issues with baby’s development and low milk supply. Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation consists of:
- Essential macro nutrients including carbohydrates, proteins and fats
- Essential micro nutrients including vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and more
- Essential hydration from water and electrolytes
- A healthy diet that meets the nutritional needs including these macro and micro nutrients
What are the key nutritional requirements for pregnancy?
During pregnancy, there are key nutritional requirements that are increased, which is why prenatal vitamins and healthy diet are so important. Here are the key nutritional requirements every pregnant mother needs to be aware of:
- Folate 600–800 micrograms
- Calcium: 1200 milligrams
- Iron: 27 milligrams ‘
- Protein 75-100 grams
- Vitamins B6 1.9 mg/day
- Vitamin B12 2.6 μg/day
- Vitamin D
- 300 calories in the 2nd and 3rd trimester
These are the key nutritional requirements during pregnancy, but not the only nutritional requirements pregnant mothers should be aware of.
A prenatal vitamin will help cover all your basis when it comes to getting adequate amounts of all the key nutrients, but diet is really important for consuming fresh, real nutrients.
What to eat during pregnancy to meet the nutritional needs:
Edamame, Lentils + Asparagus for Folate:
Folate is essential for baby’s development, especially in the first trimester. Folate is not to be confused with folic acid, which is the synthetic form. Milk Dust is an awesome supplement for pregnant mamas because it offers L-methylfolate, rather than synthetic folic acid. This is the live version that is easier to absorb, and better for many women with the 5-MTHF gene mutation. Adding some lentil soup, cooked edamame and roasted aparagus to your pregnancy diet can help ensure you are consuming real food sources of folate to supplement your prenatal vitamin.
Chia Seeds, Yogurt + Salmon for Calcium:
Calcium plays an important role for baby’s development, especially during the last trimester as it is transferred directly to growing baby. Rather than focusing on a supplement to do all the work, try adding chia seed puddings to your daily routine, salmon once a week for dinner and left overs and yogurt parfaits for breakfast or dessert. Milk Dust also has chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds as a part of our protein blend, to help fill your diet with the super-food benefits of these seeds.
Spinach, Shellfish + Legumes for Iron:
Iron levels are significantly increased during pregnancy, and many new mothers can be diagnosed with anemia because of low iron intake. Adding spinach to your Milk Dust smoothies is an easy and quick way to consume more spinach every day, as well as adding more beans like lentils, chickpeas and peas to your salads can help if you aren’t a big meat eater. Of course red meat is a great source as well, and adding some steak and beans to your salad is an awesome way to eat a very nutritious meal.
More Beans and Chicken for Vitamin B6 and B12:
Beans are nutritional powerhouses, and easy to add to many dishes. Beans with cauliflower rice and roasted chicken is a great meal option for a healthy, satisfying dinner full of B vitamins both you and baby need. Scrambled eggs with beans, peppers and salsa is also a great way to start your day if you want to consume more B vitamins, and Milk Dust of course has added vitamin B12.
Egg Yolks for Vitamin D:
Scramble up all the eggs, not just the whites to get the additional benefits of vitamin D. Of course the sunshine is another awesome way, and sometimes the best way to get your vitamin D intake, but isn’t always realistic. If you struggle with having the time to scramble up and cook eggs in the morning, try baking omelet/egg cups and storing them to quickly grab for snacks and breakfast. Hard-boiled eggs are also great on top of salads or for quick and easy snacks.
There you have some healthy foods to eat while pregnant, which will encourage meeting the important nutritional needs and support supplementation with a prenatal vitamin. But what happens after baby comes? How do nutritional needs change?
Nutritional needs during lactation, different from pregnancy:
Once baby arrives, and breastfeeding begins, postpartum nutritional needs change and adapt from pregnancy. Many of the key nutritional requirements during pregnancy are still important for postpartum. There are also additional nutritional needs breastfeeding mothers need to meet.
Key nutritional requirements for lactation and postpartum:
- Increased caloric demands around 500 calories
- Vitamin C 115 mg/day
- Chromium 44 μg/day (AI)
- Magnesium 360 mg/day
- Zinc 13 mg/day
Increased caloric intake around 500 calories for lactation:
One of the main nutritional requirements during lactation is the increased need for calories. Many of these extra calories can come from stored nutrition, or body fat. This is the purpose of stored fat and nutrients during pregnancy, so many mothers don’t need to compensate for the caloric demands to produce a healthy milk supply. But, if a healthy diet while breastfeeding doesn’t offer essential nutrients, the body can not function properly during this process. If nutritional needs are not met, then the body may want to slow down milk production and hold on to stored fat. This is why we created Milk Dust as a product to support the nutritional needs by offering very nutrient-dense calories, with important nutrients to support healthy lactation. Increasing caloric intake isn’t always necessary, but caloric needs are increased during lactation.
Increased Vitamin C requirements:
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it passes through breast milk to baby. Baby’s intake of vitamin C is dependent upon the mother’s intake, so ensuring a healthy diet full of colorful fruits and veggies can dramatically increase the amount of vitamin C available for baby.
Chromium Needs Increased:
Chromium is essential for blood glucose control both during pregnancy and postpartum. Breastfeeding mothers need this essential mineral for proper functioning as new mommies transition from pregnancy to lactation.
After delivery, glucose tolerance generally reverts to normal, but women are at a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes (124). In fact, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women diagnosed with gestational diabetes is more than 7-fold higher than women not diagnosed with gestational diabetesSource
Adding broccoli and turkey to your diet postpartum can help increase your chromium intake, as well as making smoothies with Milk Dust because of the added chromium in our formula.
Increased Magnesium Needs:
Magnesium is an important mineral found in meats, grains, vegetables and beans. Often times new mothers aren’t getting enough magnesium. Magnesium is particlularly important during lactation because it plays a significant role in hydration, muscle relaxation, energy production and crucially, the deactivation of adrenaline.
Adrenaline is a stress hormone, which can interfere with the production and let down of milk. Because of that, keeping stress levels low is really important for breastfeeding.source
Increased Zinc Needs for healthy lactation:
During lactation, mothers can actually absorb more zinc to help fill the increased needs for mother and baby. Zinc also plays a role in helping mothers heal after birth.
The requirements for zinc during lactation are greater than those during pregnancy, especially during the early weeks postpartum. Therefore, lactation poses a significant threat to maternal zinc homeostasis, particularly in populations with chronically low dietary zinc intakesSource
Pumpkin seeds are great sources of zinc, in addition to meat, beans, seeds and nuts. Adding these to your daily diet is really important to increasing your zinc intake during lactation, as well as using our lactation protein powder made with pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds to help with zinc needs!
Remember, your nutrition during pregnancy and lactation should not be left overs. You deserve high-quality, nutrient dense foods to support the miracle of pregnancy and lactation.
Top Foods To Meet Nutritional Needs For Pregnancy And Lactation:
As you can see from the post, there are some repeated food suggestions to help you get enough nutrients, both macro and micro in your diet to meet the nutritional demands. Here is the list of those top foods we mentioned:
- Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, edamame
- Chia Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chicken + Turkey
How Milk Dust supports nutritional needs during lactation:
Milk Dust is an awesome solution for new mommies to nourish their bodies postpartum. It is full of protein, micro nutrients, minerals and tastes great! It blends really well with fruits and veggies, and we have a free lactation recipe book that helps guide you on what to blend it with. Milk Dust is easy, simple and no clean up, making it a perfect solution for new mommies to get the nutrition they need during lactation.