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What Does a Pregnancy Nutritionist Do?

There are many sources of information for pregnant women, including obstetricians, midwives, doulas, and pregnancy nutritionists. Each of these professionals has something different to offer, and every woman has unique needs with each pregnancy.
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Unlike other pregnancy-related roles, a pregnancy nutritionist has completed extensive education and training in meeting pregnant women's and their babies' nutrition needs. A pregnancy nutritionist (also known as a prenatal nutritionist) can help mothers reduce symptoms like nausea, heartburn, bloating, and acid reflux. They can also help expectant mothers feel better about their bodies, improve energy levels, reduce stress, and more. 

If you're curious about how pregnancy nutritionists and dietitians help their clients, read on to find out more.

What is a pregnancy nutritionist?

Whether you're pregnant with your first baby or your fourth, you may benefit from the help of a pregnancy nutritionist. There are so many things to think about during your pregnancy. A registered dietitian nutritionist can make things easier by helping you maintain a nutritious diet. 

A pregnancy nutritionist can help you achieve a healthy pregnancy by offering nutritional counseling for your body and your pregnancy. Pregnancy nutritionists are experts in pregnancy nutrition and the best ways to promote healthy weight gain for pregnant women. If you have food aversions or food allergies, a pregnancy nutritionist will incorporate those needs as they build you a custom nutrition plan. Read more here to learn about pregnancy nutritionists.

Am I a good candidate to work with a pregnancy nutritionist?

You might search for a "pregnancy nutritionist near me” for several reasons. "Here are some of the most common reasons why expectant mothers choose to work with a prenatal or pregnancy nutritionist. 

Symptom management

Every expectant mother has encountered horror stories about nausea, heartburn, or bloating she may feel while pregnant. It can be daunting to cope with just a few of these symptoms. The best pregnancy nutritionists understand which foods pregnant women should consume or avoid to reduce these symptoms. Nutritionists with expertise in prenatal nutrition can recommend specific foods based on the symptoms you're experiencing. 

Your nutritionist will also be able to advise you on healthy eating habits that will give you and your baby the nutrients you need without causing severe pregnancy symptoms. Sometimes, when a pregnant woman has severe symptoms, she may unknowingly cause nutrient deficiencies for her developing baby by avoiding foods that might upset her stomach. A pregnancy nutritionist can help you incorporate tasty and nutritious foods into your diet while also managing the severity of pregnancy symptoms. 

Lower the risk of deficiencies

Regardless of pregnancy symptoms, avoiding nutrient deficiencies is an important reason why some women choose to work with a prenatal nutritionist. As an expectant mother, your top priority is to help your baby thrive. Certain foods can help your baby's bones grow, and certain mineral supplements support your baby's brain development. A pregnancy nutritionist has a detailed understanding of the ideal foods and dietary supplements to give you and your baby everything you need throughout the gestation period. 

Your nutritionist may recommend specific foods in your first trimester and adjust your eating plan as your pregnancy progresses. Your nutritionist may also recommend certain prenatal supplements to lessen the chance of your baby developing congenital disabilities. A pregnancy nutritionist will create a nutrition plan to meet your baby's needs at various stages of your pregnancy while also helping you stay as strong and healthy as possible as you approach your due date. While you can get many essential micronutrients from a balanced diet, your nutritionist may recommend certain supplements to promote a healthy pregnancy and lower the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Avoid complications

Many women worry about the possibility of pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and abnormally high or low birth weight. A prenatal nutritionist can help you eat a well-rounded diet that will lower your risk of developing these potential complications. A healthy, balanced diet full of green leafy vegetables and whole grains is an excellent place to start. Your nutritionist will go further by incorporating the foods you enjoy into a complete nutrition plan that gives you the nutrients you need to avoid complications. A mother's health is a valuable indicator of her baby's health, so it's essential to eat a nutrient-rich diet that is also enjoyable and palatable. 

Cover the basics

A prenatal nutritionist can help you avoid myths and misconceptions while teaching you the basics of a healthy pregnancy diet. For instance, a pregnancy nutritionist may remind you of the importance of getting adequate fluids daily. They may also explain how the idea that expectant mothers need to "eat for two" is outdated and incorrect. If you have questions about which foods to avoid (i.e., deli meat and soft cheeses), your nutritionist can guide you to choose alternatives at the grocery store. 

Although there are some general guidelines to understand and follow, your pregnancy is unique, so it's best to work with someone who can help you by providing specific support tailored to your needs. 

Need some more time to think? Read more here.

How a pregnancy dietitian can help you create healthy lifestyle choices

Here are a few ways a pregnancy dietitian or nutritionist can help you create healthy lifestyle choices during your pregnancy.

Overall wellness

A nutritionist or dietitian can promote overall wellness during your pregnancy. They'll guide you towards optimal health by helping you maintain a nutritious diet and explaining which foods you should avoid. 

Although there is no miracle supplement you can take to ensure a healthy pregnancy, the next best thing is to work with someone who can advise you on the best ways to achieve overall wellness through a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Gut health

The rise in estrogen and progesterone that your body produces during pregnancy can alter your gut function and microbiome composition. Unhealthy food choices can also throw your gut health out of sync. This combination of factors makes you more vulnerable to pathogens. Your nutritionist will be able to recommend pregnancy-safe foods and nutrients you can consume to help your gut. Achieving a healthy gut can help you feel better by reducing the painful bloating you may experience while pregnant, and it can also help by easing constipation.

Acid reflux

Also known as indigestion or heartburn, acid reflux is one of the most common pregnancy complaints. It can be highly uncomfortable. Hormonal changes and your baby pressing against your internal organs can cause acid reflux. However, changes to your diet and lifestyle can help ease heartburn. A nutritionist will be able to recommend the best foods to relieve acid reflux while cautioning you about the foods that can make indigestion worse.  

Proper weight gain

Proper weight gain is an essential aspect of pregnancy. Although you can get general recommendations based on your pre-pregnancy size, a pregnancy nutritionist or dietitian can help you with your specific weight goal. 

While weight gain isn't always an accurate indicator of your baby's development, expectant mothers need to gain weight appropriately for their overall health. A pregnancy nutritionist or dietitian can support you in adopting the optimal diet to achieve a healthy weight. 

What qualifies as "healthy" weight gain differs for each woman, and appropriate weight gain also varies from trimester to trimester. If you're not gaining enough weight, your nutritionist can advise you about the safest way to consume extra calories. They can also help you cut back if you are gaining too quickly.

An image of healthy food

Is a pregnancy registered dietitian the same as a pregnancy nutritionist?

In most cases, registered dietitians and nutritionists both have extensive knowledge about the best ways to nourish a person's body, but there are some slight differences between the two. 

The main difference is that the term "nutritionist" can be used by practically anyone, regardless of their education, training, or experience. On the other hand, registered dietitians are professional nutrition experts who have completed at least a bachelor's degree in nutrition science and an internship program and have passed a national dietetics exam. Many registered dietitians (RDs) use the term nutritionist to describe themselves, but it's important to check out the credentials of your prospective pregnancy nutritionist before agreeing to work with them. 

Setting realistic success goals for working with a pregnancy nutritionist

Just as there is no miracle supplement to ensure an uncomplicated pregnancy, a prenatal nutritionist cannot guarantee an ideal pregnancy, even if you follow their instructions and adopt the healthiest possible diet and lifestyle. Nevertheless, a pregnancy nutritionist provides a valuable service for expectant mothers. 

A pregnancy dietitian will listen to your concerns and develop a nutrition plan for your needs. This can help improve your overall health and give your baby the nutrients they need for proper growth and development. Working with a prenatal nutritionist is a sustainable solution for pregnant women searching for a professional to advise them on the nutrition they need for the healthiest and safest pregnancy possible.

How to get started with a pregnancy nutritionist today

Getting started with a pregnancy nutritionist is very simple. Rather than wasting time searching online for a "nutritionist near me," Top Nutrition Coaching offers a short assessment to help our nutrition specialists understand your needs and goals. After a complimentary phone consultation, they'll match you with an experienced pregnancy nutritionist based on your evaluation. Within a few days, you can start meeting with an empathetic and highly knowledgeable nutrition professional via our telehealth platform, all from the comfort of home.  

Find your personal nutrition coach today.

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About the author

Nicolette Star Maggiolo, RD, LDN
I'm a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with education from Boston University and clinical training from both Brigham & Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. I specialize in helping the military and non-military individuals embrace nutrition as a partner in both their mental and physical health.

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