You and your baby's health!
During your pregnancy, healthy foods and good nutrition are keys to you and your baby’s health. Make sure you include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy in your everyday meal plan. While you do get to eat for two (and maybe sneak in some ice cream now and then) the recommended increase in your daily diet is about 300 calories than normal. In addition to a healthy diet, it is very important to get all of the recommended nutrients for your baby by taking a prenatal vitamin supplement. If you aren’t sure what kind to take, ask your doctor and they can recommend one for you.
Things to enjoy
Fiber - To avoid constipation and hemorrhoids, you should have plenty of fiber in your diet. Sources of fiber include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Fiber also fills you up without adding unnecessary calories so you can be full without binging.
Calcium - Calcium is a mineral that help your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves develop. You should be getting 1000mg of calcium per day. Calcium rich foods include orange juice, milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, kale and spinach. If you aren’t getting enough calcium from what you eat and drink, you should consider a calcium supplement. Always talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your daily routine.
Vitamin D - Vitamin D helps your body absorb Calcium. Vitamin D is important because it helps your body’s immune system, nerves and muscles work. Vitamin D also helps your baby’s bones and teeth develop. Your body needs 600mg of Vitamin D per day. Good sources of Vitamin D include fatty fish (salmon), and foods with added Vitamin D such as cereals and milk. One can also get Vitamin D when your skin comes into contact with the sun. Too much sun can lead to cancer, so it’s best to get most of your Vitamin D from your prenatal vitamin or food sources.
Iron - Iron is a mineral that is used to help make hemoglobin, a protein that helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. You need twice as much iron during pregnancy than you did before pregnancy. Your body needs about 27mg of iron per day. Yummy sources of iron include iron-fortified cereal, pasta and bread, beans, leafy green vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, meat, and poultry. Your body absorbs more iron when you eat fruits and veggies together with meat, poultry and fish or with food that is high in vitamin C. Sources of vitamin C include grapefruit, tomatoes, orange juice, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach. If you are not getting enough iron from your diet, talk with your doctor before adding any supplements to your daily routine.
Folate and Folic Acid - Folic acid is a B vitamin that when taken prior to pregnancy and during early pregnancy, helps prevent neural tube defects, which cause abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Insufficient folate in your diet will increase the risk of health complications like preterm delivery and low birth weight. You should have 600 mg of folate or folic acid per day. A supplement is recommended in addiction to a folic acid heavy diet. Good sources of folate and folic acid are fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, and dried beans.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and DHA - Your body needs fatty acids and DHA for baby’s brain and eye development. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you need 200mg of DHA each day. Good sources include Fish (like salmon, herring, halibut), nuts, vegetable oils (canola, soybean and olive oil), and foods that have DHA added to them (orange juice, milk and eggs).
Things to avoid
Alcohol - The consumption of alcohol while pregnant leads to fetal alcohol syndrome, premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects, and mental retardation. NO AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL IS SAFE DURING PREGNANCY.
Drugs - Drugs include street drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and herbal products. Drugs can hurt you and the baby taken before or during pregnancy. Tell your provider about any drugs or medications you take if you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant. Don’t take any drug without your providers OK. Ask your provider for help to quit using street drugs or prescription drug abuse now.
Caffeine - You do not have to cut this out completely. Limit your caffeine intake to 200 mg per day. That is the equivalent of 12-ounce cup of coffee. Remember tea, chocolate, soda and some over-the-counter medications contains caffeine too. One chocolate bar contains the same amount of caffeine as a quarter cup of coffee.
Excessive fats and cholesterol - Don’t cut fats out completely because it’s important to have some good fats in your diet. The total amount of fat you eat should be 30% or less of your daily calories. So, if your doctor recommends a 2,000 calorie per day diet, then you should limit yourself to 65 grams of fat per day.
Seafood - Pregnant women should avoid all raw fish. Sushi, clams, oysters, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (also called white snapper) are not good to consume. They contain high levels of mercury that are dangerous to your developing baby. It’s safe to eat 8 to 12 oz. each week of fish that are low in mercury (shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, canned tuna and no more than 6 oz of albacore white tune per week). If unsure what’s safe, ask your doctor.
Raw or undercooked foods - Make sure you fully cook fish, chicken, turkey and any other meat. Undercooked meat can make pregnant women sick. Heat hotdogs and deli-meats until they are steaming hot to kill off harmful bacteria. Avoid soft-scrambled eggs and other food with raw or lightly cooked egg products. Also, avoid raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts. Avoid meat spreads, smoked seafood, and refrigerated pates.
Unpasteurized soft cheeses, milk or juices - Foods that are pasteurized have been heated to kill “bad germs.” Foods that are unpasteurized contain germs that maybe harmful to you and your baby. Look for the word “pasteurized” on food labels on cheeses, milk, yogurt and juices. Avoid soft cheeses such as brie, feta, Camembert, blue-veined, queso blanco.
Nonfood item - Some pregnant women crave nonfood items that are harmful to themselves and the baby. Cravings may include: clay, ice, dirt, chalk, coffee grounds, charcoal, etc. If you are experiencing such cravings, please call your provider right away.
Foods that make you feel better
Morning sickness - If you are feeling nauseous and/or vomiting, try to calm your tummy with bland foods like crackers, cereal, or pretzels. To keep your stomach happy throughout the day, enjoy a variety of small meals. Avoid fatty, greasy, and fried foods.
Constipation - Fiber and good hydration will solve your constipation problems. Be sure you are drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day and enjoy fiber rich foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. You can also take a fiber supplement if the problem persists.
Diarrhea - If you have diarrhea, you need to keep yourself well hydrated. You should also incorporate foods that contain gums and pectin to help absorb excess water. Sources of these gums and pectins are applesauce, bananas, white rice, oatmeal, and refined white bread.
Heartburn - To calm the uncomfortable burning sensation, drink milk and try chewing an antacid tablet. To avoid getting heartburn, eat small, frequent meals, limit citric beverages, and spicy foods. Also try drinking milk before you eat. Always talk with your doctor if you are aren’t sure what foods or supplements are best for you and your baby.