Finding out you're pregnant can feel like the beginning of a whole new life chapter. It's an exciting time but can also involve significant anxiety and worry. Suddenly, taking care of your body isn't just a personal matter. The food you eat, how long you sleep, your daily exercise, and your stress levels can all impact your growing little one.
If you are searching for a registered dietitian nutritionist, you've come to the right place. A prenatal nutritionist can do so much for you during your pregnancy. Imagine taking the stress out of knowing what's safe to eat, avoiding inaccurate information on the internet, and gaining confidence to make the best food choices during pregnancy. All of that can be possible when you start working with a pregnancy nutritionist.
However, it's one thing to know that you want to see a nutritionist and another to find the perfect expert for your needs. It can be tricky to find the right dietitian, especially when looking for someone specializing in prenatal nutrition. This comprehensive guide will explore the benefits of working with a pregnancy nutritionist and the best way to find the right one.
Am I a good candidate to work with a pregnancy nutritionist?
If you are an expectant mother, there's a good chance you can benefit from seeking out a pregnancy nutritionist. In just a few sessions, you can learn a lot about what a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy entails. And if you relate to one of the scenarios below, you can significantly benefit from the help of an expert.
You tend to overeat
When you’re pregnant, it can become even more challenging to resist food cravings. But just because your body tells you it wants something doesn't mean you should eat it. There are a few common pregnancy myths surrounding overeating, including that you should "eat for two" and only crave the food your body needs. Depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, you should only gain about 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy. You should gain less than that if you were overweight or obese before becoming pregnant.
While some weight gain is healthy, gaining too much weight can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, gestational diabetes, and a high-risk delivery. A nutritionist can help you set healthy weight management goals during pregnancy and hold you accountable. A nutritionist can also outline a basic workout routine and determine how much you should hydrate and sleep daily.
You tend to undereat
In the same way that overeating can be harmful during pregnancy, so can undereating. Many pregnant women worry about gaining too much weight. To counteract that fear, they tend to eat less than they should. In other cases, women who have to cope with severe morning sickness and nausea during their pregnancies may have significantly diminished appetites, thus depriving their bodies of adequate nourishment.
Not providing your pregnant body with enough nutrients can result in low birth weight for your baby and, tragically, an increased risk for infant mortality. A pregnancy nutritionist can help monitor your weight and develop a healthy, well-balanced eating plan that satisfies you and your baby.
You have dietary restrictions
You can benefit from consulting a prenatal nutritionist if you abide by a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet. As vegans and vegetarians already know, plant-based diets have several nutritional deficiencies. Your diet may lack protein, iron, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, omega-3, and vitamin B12. While a vegan and vegetarian diet can be made safe during pregnancy, you must be aware of the importance of a balanced intake of critical nutrients. A pregnancy nutritionist can provide accurate information on safe nutritional supplements, prenatal vitamins, and food substitutions that you can incorporate into your diet for a healthy pregnancy.
Like vegetarians and vegans, individuals with severe food allergies and food aversions (including those who are gluten-free or lactose intolerant) can also benefit from consulting with a nutrition expert.
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How do I find a pregnancy nutritionist near me?
While it might be the easiest solution, searching online for a "nutritionist near me" may not yield the best results. If you choose to work with a pregnancy nutritionist, you want to ensure that this person is both a highly educated expert and the right expert for you. Here are some ways to find an excellent pregnancy nutritionist near you.
Speak with your doctors
One of the trickiest parts of finding the right pregnancy nutritionist is the vetting process. Some nutritionists have advanced credentials, while others may have limited professional experience. To avoid paying for a service that isn’t worth your while, consider asking for a referral from your doctor, whether that healthcare provider is a general health practitioner or a gynecologist. Doctors are part of an extensive network of healthcare professionals, meaning they can likely refer you to an expert you can trust.
Contact your local university
All registered dietitian nutritionists must earn at least a bachelor's degree in nutrition or a related field. Thus, professors and researchers at your local university's nutrition department might be able to refer you to a top-quality expert in their network. This may even be someone that they have taught or worked with in the past.
Doctorate-level nutrition experts also work at universities, including certified nutritionist specialists (CNS) who are experts in nutrition information and nutrition science. These individuals typically have previous experience counseling patients and may be interested in working with you.
Call your insurance company
An increasing number of insurance companies provide coverage for nutrition counseling. It's worth reading through your policy or calling your provider directory to see which services and professionals are in your network. Knowing which nutritionists or healthcare providers your insurance company covers gives you an excellent place to start your search.
Get in touch with local hospitals and clinics
While some dietitians and nutritionists work out of private practices, many are members of medical teams at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. At the very least, hospitals and clinics may be able to refer you to someone who can take you on as a client.
Speak with other moms
Whether it's a neighbor, a relative, or a friend, connect with someone who has experienced the ups and downs of pregnancy. There's a chance they worked with a nutritionist or dietitian and can tell you about their experience. They should be able to advise you on the best places to look or even refer you to a nutritionist directly.
Utilize online nutrition platforms
These days, there are online platforms dedicated to connecting you with expert nutritionists. Without worrying about complicated travel logistics, you can meet virtually with a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in prenatal nutrition who has experience working with expectant mothers of all backgrounds.
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How to choose the right pregnancy nutritionist for you
While searching for a nutritionist, you don't just want to find someone with impressive credentials and expertise. You also want to find an expert who will mesh well with your needs. To help with your decision, read more about what to look for in a pregnancy nutritionist.
Check their credentials
Before doing anything else, check your pregnancy nutritionist's credentials before signing up for their services. Some titles that indicate a high level of professional experience include Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN), Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), and Registered Dietitian (RD). That's not to say that professionals without this title can't have significant experience. You can dig further by inquiring about the individual's professional education, continuing education, and certifications.
Factor in cost
How much you can afford to spend on a pregnancy nutritionist is crucial to consider when selecting your nutritionist. Remember that affordable and qualified nutritionists are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. You should be able to find a qualified expert who can help you through your pregnancy without breaking the bank. To figure out your budget, consider how long you plan to see a pregnancy nutritionist and how much you can afford to spend on a nutritionist per month. Thankfully, even just a few sessions with a nutritionist can go a long way toward helping you navigate your pregnancy with confidence.
Consider specializations and further training
Some nutritionists specialize in weight loss, while others focus on renal or diabetes nutrition. Finding a nutritionist specializing in prenatal nutrition will be most beneficial for you. Working with an expert in prenatal nutrition will ensure you receive the most accurate and up-to-date information in this field. If you have other health issues, look for a dietitian who has experience working with clients with complex needs.
Benefits of working with an online pregnancy nutritionist
There are many benefits of choosing an online platform for your nutrition needs. Working with a telehealth provider can streamline finding the perfect nutritionist for you.
Thorough vetting process
As mentioned previously, one of the most stressful parts of finding a nutritionist is ensuring that this person is highly qualified. The last thing you want is to begin working with someone who doles out inaccurate or poorly-researched advice that negatively impacts your health.
One of the biggest perks of working with an online nutrition platform is that they will have already vetted the nutritionists in their network. These companies are highly selective with their nutritionists and only invite the best of the best in each field to join their team. Working with an online nutrition provider will save you the time and effort of vetting your nutritionist.
Match with a nutrition expert who's a good fit
An online nutrition service will not only ensure that you are matched with an expert in pregnancy nutrition, but they will also ensure that you work with a person you get along with. Your nutrition journey during pregnancy will be full of ups and downs, and you want to work with someone who will be a reliable support system. While some expectant mothers may prefer to work with someone who pushes them and holds them accountable to their goals, others may work better with someone who is more gentle and nurturing.
When you work with an online provider, you can outline your goals and preferences to the nutrition consultant, ensuring that you get matched with someone who is a good fit.
Free initial consultation and satisfaction guarantee
Many online nutrition providers offer additional perks, including free initial consultations. A free consultation ensures that customers are satisfied. No love (or money) is lost if you don't enjoy this service. This perk lets you see how well you connect with your paired nutritionist, and you can let the provider know if you don't think it's a good fit. They can then match you with a more complementary nutritionist in their network.
Pregnancy Nutrition Plan Checklist
Now you have all the tools you need to find a pregnancy nutritionist! Here is a quick rundown of everything you should remember during your search.
Before anything else, you need to find some potential pregnancy nutrition candidates. Rather than doing a futile Google search, here are more effective ways to locate a top-quality nutritionist.
- Ask your current doctors for referrals.
- Check in with nutrition departments at local colleges and universities.
- Call your insurance company.
- Consult local hospitals, clinics, and public health departments.
- Speak with other moms, including friends, neighbors, and relatives.
- Use an online nutrition platform that thoroughly vets its nutrition experts.
Complete a Background Check
Completing a background check is essential if you don't end up working with an online platform that has already vetted its nutritionists. Before signing up for a nutritionist's services, you should consider these critical factors.
- Pay attention to education and credentials.
- Be on the lookout for red flags.
- Factor cost into your decision.
- Ask about customer service. How frequently will a nutritionist get back to you? Knowing this information will be vital in case of an emergency.
Find the Right Fit
Finding the right nutritionist doesn't just come down to education, experience, and expertise. It also means finding someone who specializes in prenatal nutrition and will be a powerful support system during your pregnancy. Here are a few ways to determine whether a nutritionist will likely be a good fit.
- Find someone with pregnancy-related qualifications and experience.
- Make sure your work styles mesh.
- Get to know each other with a quick phone call before committing. Even a short conversation with someone will give you a feel for whether or not you click.