Have you ever wondered exactly how many calories you should be eating for each trimester of pregnancy, or while you’re breastfeeding post-partum? You may have had many prenatal care appointments already and had nobody discuss this topic with you.
A lot of people have the misconception you can just eat whatever you want since you’re growing another human being, but it doesn’t quite work like that. Eating for two doesn’t really mean eating for two.
Here are numbers from the Health Canada website, straight from the government explaining what your energy needs are, and how many calories you need daily for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
|Women 19-30 Years||1900||1st Trimester||0-6 mos PP|
|1900 + 0||1900 + 330|
|2nd Trimester||7-12 mos PP|
|1900 + 340||1900 +400|
|1900 + 452|
|Women 31-50 Years||1800||1st Trimester||0-6 mos PP|
|1800 + 0||1800 + 330|
|2nd Trimester||7-12 mos PP|
|1800 + 340||1800 +400|
|1800 + 452|
* Note this is using 1900 calories as a base for a woman aged 19-30 before pregnancy, and 1800 calories for ages 31-50. So keep in mind this number differs based on your age/body/height etc. And these numbers were used based on a sedentary female, you may also have to adjust if you’re very active.
- If you were eating 1900 calories to sustain your weight, then in the first trimester you will need no extra energy in the 19-30 age group as well as in the 31-50 age group.
- For The second trimester they recommend 340 calories extra daily for the 19-30 age group, and 340 extra calories per day for the 31-50 age category.
- Third trimester they tack on an extra 452 calories per day! By this point the baby is growing very quickly.
- For the post-partum period if you’re breastfeeding, they recommend 330 extra calories for the 0-6 month range and 400 extra for the 7-12 month period if you’re still nursing by that point.
This may not be enough for some women, and your doctor will be able to tell you if you’re gaining too much or sometimes not enough, and you can adjust accordingly. If you gain weight too quickly it could lead to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth.
So what does 1900 calories look like? Here is an example of a day of six small meals I had one day that I put together for an example of about 1900-1950 calories:
For meal #2, the recipe can be found here for a health(ier) chocolate protein snack cake-
So what could you add to your diet to make up the difference? It may be tempting to use the extra calorie allotment for junk food, but you’ll feel much better if you make healthy choices. And you’ll thank yourself once the baby is born as well.
Here are some examples of what a small meal or large snack of 300-340 calories would look like:
- 1/3 Cup of Granola
- 2 Tsp Maple Syrup
- One cup of Plain Greek Yogurt
- Half a cup of strawberries
- A slice of whole grain sprouted bread
- 3 Slices natural deli turkey
- Tomato slices
- 1/4 Avocado
- Large Apple
- Whey Protein Shake
- Two Brown Rice Cakes
- 1.5 Tbsp natural peanut butter