Now that you are pregnant, you need to eat well - not only for your own health, but for the baby growing inside. There will be certain foods that will help you through your pregnancy to produce a healthy bouncing baby. Specifically, you’ll need to increase your intake of protein, certain vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron, and calories (for energy) during your pregnancy. If your diet has been poor, or inconsistent, you will want to make the change to eating nutritious, well-balanced meals.
Remember, eating better doesn’t mean eating more. Most women need only about 300 calories more per day above their pre-pregnancy needs (usually between 1,800 and 2,200 calories overall per day) to help keep a healthy weight for the duration of the pregnancy.
Avoid Raw and Unpasteurized Foods
You may want to steer clear of raw seafood, unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses (such as brie or camembert), pate and raw or undercooked meat and poultry. The reason for this is that they are all possible sources of bacteria that may affect your baby. Remember that your baby ‘eats’ what you eat.
Try replacing these nutritional losers with healthy choices such as skim milk, 100 percent fruit juice, or water with a squeeze of lemon.
A vitamin-mineral supplement may be a good insurance that a pregnant woman will be able to meet her nutritional needs. Strict vegetarians, and women with medical conditions such as diabetes, gestational diabetes or anemia, as well as those with a history of low birth weight babies, should talk with their healthcare providers about supplements they might need.
The Risks of Caffeine and Alcohol
It is best to avoid the intake of alcohol. Drinking during pregnancy can cause physical defects, learning disabilities and emotional problems in children. You may also want to avoid or at least cut down on your intake of caffeine. Over-indulging in caffeine can possibly result in the birth of a low birth weight child, miscarriage and sudden infant death syndrome.
Give in to an Occasional Treat
You don’t have to give up all your favorite goodies just because you’re pregnant. But processed foods, packaged snacks, and sugar-loaded desserts shouldn’t be the mainstay of your diet, either. First, think smart snacking: Try a banana smoothie rather than ice cream, or a frozen all-fruit nonfat sorbet instead of canned peaches in sugar syrup. Don’t guilt-trip yourself, though, about eating a cookie once in a while. Enjoy every bite.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD