Nutrition During Pregnancy
The importance of good nutrition during pregnancy
About 300 extra calories are needed
every day to maintain a healthy pregnancy. These calories should come from a balanced
diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Sweets and fats should be kept
a minimum. A healthy, well-balanced diet during pregnancy can also help to reduce
pregnancy symptoms, like nausea and constipation.
The Academy of Nutrition and
Dietetics advises these key components of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy:
Gaining the right amount of weight for you
Eating a balanced diet
Taking vitamins and minerals, as your healthcare provider
Fluid intake is also an important
part of healthy pregnancy nutrition. You can get enough fluids by drinking 8 glasses
water each day. Talk with your healthcare provider about limiting caffeine and
artificial sweeteners. Don’t drink alcohol while pregnant.
Also don’t eat these foods:
Unpasteurized milk and foods made with unpasteurized milk
Soft cheeses, including feta,
queso blanco and fresco, Camembert, brie, or blue-veined cheeses (unless labeled
“made with pasteurized milk”)
Hot dogs and luncheon
meats, unless they are heated until steaming hot before serving
Refrigerated pâté and meat spreads
Refrigerated smoked seafood
Also follow these general food-safety guidelines:
Wash. Rinse all raw produce thoroughly under running
tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
Clean. Wash your hands, knives, countertops, and
cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
Avoid. Raw and undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat. Do
not eat sushi made with raw fish (cooked sushi is safe).
Cook. Beef, pork, or poultry should be cooked to a
safe internal temperature checked with a food thermometer.
Chill. Promptly refrigerate all perishable food.
Why is folic acid important?
The U.S. Public Health Service
advises that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (0.4 mcg) of folic
acid each day. Folic acid is a nutrient found in some green leafy vegetables, most
berries, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, fortified breakfast cereals, and some vitamin
supplements. It can help reduce the risk for birth defects of the brain and spinal
(called neural tube defects). These defects can lead to varying degrees of paralysis,
incontinence, and sometimes intellectual disability.
Folic acid is most helpful during
the first 28 days after conception. This is when most neural tube defects happen.
Unfortunately, many women do not realize they are pregnant before 28 days. So folic
intake should start before conception and continue through pregnancy. Your healthcare
provider will advise the right amount of folic acid for you.
Most healthcare providers will
prescribe a prenatal supplement before conception, or shortly after, to make sure
woman’s nutritional needs are met. But a prenatal supplement does not replace a healthy