Nutrition For Expectant Moms
A healthy diet includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water. The U.S. government publishes dietary guidelines that can help you determine how many servings of each kind of food to eat every day. Eating a variety of foods in the proportions indicated is a good step toward staying healthy.
Food labels can tell you what kinds of nutrients are in the foods you eat. The letters RDA, which you find on food labeling, stand for recommended daily allowance, or the amount of a nutrient recommended for your daily diet. When you’re pregnant, the RDAs for most nutrients are higher.
Here are some of the most common nutrients you need and the foods that contain them:
|meat, whole-milk dairy products, nuts, peanut butter, margarine, vegetable oils
Keep General Guidelines In Mind
About 300 extra calories are needed each day to maintain a healthy pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. These calories should come from a balanced and diverse diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with minimum added sugars and fats.
When navigating the menu of daily choices, it helps to know the difference between absolutes and guidelines , says McNally.
Fish, for instance, is an important source of nutrients. However, some types of fish should be avoided or only consumed in moderation during pregnancy because they contain higher levels of mercury. Raw and undercooked fish, especially shellfish, such as oysters and clams, is an absolute no-no, she adds.
Alcohol and recreational drugs, which can cause problems in children ranging from behavioral problems to birth defects, should also be strictly avoided.
Raw fish can be contaminated with parasites and bacteria. We recommend that women avoid this during pregnancy, McNally says. Drugs and alcohol are also things that we have patients stay away from. Even patients who have a glass of wine with dinner will never know the safe level or what you can drink or not drink in terms of fetal alcohol syndrome.
Why Nutrition Is Important In Pregnancy
Nutrition. Eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy is linked to good brain development and a healthy birth weight, and can reduce the risk of many birth defects. A balanced diet will also reduce the risks of anemia, as well as other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness.
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Lean Meat Chicken Seafood Eggs Legumes Nuts And Seeds
These foods give you protein, iron, zinc and other nutrients. Your body needs more iron and zinc when youre pregnant. Iron is especially important to avoid anaemia .
Iron-rich foods include red meat, chicken, fish, green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, pumpkin and kumara, and grains like oatmeal and whole grain breads. The iron in plant-based foods isnt as easily absorbed, so youll need to eat a larger amount of those foods in each meal.
Your body can only absorb a small amount of iron at one time, so its important to eat iron-rich foods every day. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so serve iron-rich foods with foods rich in vitamin C like broccoli, cooked taro leaves, oranges, kiwifruit).
Drinking milk products and tea products can reduce absorption of iron from meals, so try to space these out from iron inclusive meals.
Be careful when buying, preparing, cooking and storing food to make sure its safe to eat.
Read more about food safety
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Why Should You Avoid Certain Foods During Pregnancy
Some foods have a higher risk of harboring illness-causing bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella or E. coli. At the same time, your immune system has a harder time fighting off germs during pregnancy.
Put those two together, and youre more likely to get sick or suffer complications like miscarriage or premature delivery if you accidentally eat something thats contaminated. Just as concerning is the fact that foodborne illness-causing bacteria can cross the placenta. And since your babys immune system isnt strong enough yet to fight off the germs, shes at risk for developing a serious infection or even birth defects.
Not all no-no foods are off limits because of bacteria, though. Alcohol and high-mercury fish, for instance, wont make you sick, but can negatively impact your babys development. And others simply havent been studied enough to know whether theyre safe for your growing baby.
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Get Legitimate Advice On What To Eat During Pregnancy
Knowing what to eat during pregnancy will keep you and your baby safe and healthy. With nutritious meals on the table, you can safeguard your child from various health risks. Eating the right foods will also reduce symptoms, such as nausea, morning sickness and fatigue.
Some long-time parents who insist that they know the routine should never assume this pregnancy will be like their others nutritionally. Your family and friends may also mean well when giving you pregnancy advice, but keep in mind that a legitimate set of guidelines is what you need the most. This will ensure that you get precise details on what to eat and what not to eat during pregnancy.
First-hand information from a nutritionist specializing in prenatal care is 100% reliable. Ideally, consult one, who will offer advice tailored for your specific needs. A certified nutritionist** can provide you definitive advice on proper prenatal care and diet.
During pregnancy, you are your babys only source of nourishment. What you eat and drink will affect your childs health, so you want to be sure that you choose the best food to eat during pregnancy.
Family Health Centers of San Diego can guide you through your pregnancy. Our dedicated certified nutritionists** and registered dietitians will assess your condition and help you make healthy food choices. We will help you manage your symptoms through the foods you eat and educate you on prenatal care.
Foods To Eat Or Avoid When Pregnant
Use this handy guide to help make decisions about what to eat and what to avoid during pregnancy.
It highlights some foods that are not recommended for pregnant women.
Foods to avoid are listed for a range of reasons, but in most cases there is a higher risk those foods may contain harmful bacteria such as listeria or salmonella.
Red = Don’t eat
scroll/swipe sideways if not all columns are displayed)
Meat, Poultry & Seafood
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Herbal And Green Teas
We do not have much information on the safety of herbal and green teas in pregnancy. Therefore, it is best to limit how much you drink. You should drink no more than 4 cups of herbal tea a day. It is important to remember that green tea contains caffeine, which should be limited as much as possible during pregnancy.
You should ask your GP or midwife if you are unsure about the safety of any herbal products.
How And Why Do Pregnant Women Get Constipated
The definition of normal bowel movement can vary from person to person. But when it becomes less frequent with hard stools and difficult to pass, you may have constipation.
The cause of constipation during pregnancy is not fully known. Many experts believe that there are several factors conspire to cause the problem. In early pregnancy , the occurrence of constipation is likely to be associated with the following factors:
At late stages of pregnancy, constipation is usually caused by the following conditions:
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Undercooked Meat And Seafood
Foods that are commercially packaged are likely to contain large quantities of trans fats. These trans fats are bad for the heart and the blood vessels. Since your heart and blood vessels play a major role in making your baby. It is best to avoid these. Chips, biscuits, cookies and fast food are in this category.
Undercooked Or Raw Fish
This one will be tough for you sushi fans, but its an important one. Raw fish, especially shellfish, can cause several infections. These can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections, such as norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Listeria.
Some of these infections may only affect you, causing dehydration and weakness. Other infections may be passed on to your baby with serious, or even fatal, consequences.
Pregnant women are especially susceptible to listeria infections. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , pregnant women are up to 10 times more likely to get infected by Listeria than the general population. Pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more at risk.
This bacteria can be found in soil and contaminated water or plants. Raw fish can become infected during processing, including smoking or drying.
Listeria bacteria can be passed to your baby through the placenta, even if youre not showing any signs of illness. This can lead to premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, and other serious health problems, according to the CDC .
Its definitely advised to avoid raw fish and shellfish, including many sushi dishes. But dont worry, youll enjoy it that much more after baby is born and its safer to eat again.
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Foods To Avoid When Youre Pregnant
When youre pregnant your immunity is lower, so you and your unborn baby are more at risk than usual from food-borne illnesses.
Bacteria like listeria, salmonella and campylobacter and pathogens like toxoplasma can cause food-borne illness.
When youre pregnant, this can cause infection in you and your baby, and in extreme cases can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.
For that reason, its advised that you dont eat any of the following foods while youre pregnant:
- processed meats* – pâté, salami, ham and luncheon, for example
- cold pre-cooked meat* – chicken and corned beef, for example
- raw milk and raw milk products
- soft pasteurised cheese*
- pre-prepared or unrefrigerated salads, including rice or pasta salad, coleslaw, roasted vegetable and green salads
- hummus and other dips containing tahini such as baba ghanoush and halva
- raw, smoked* or pre-cooked fish* or seafood*, including sushi, smoked salmon, marinated mussels or oysters
- foods containing raw egg – smoothies, mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce or desserts like mousse, for example
- soft-serve ice cream
- cream or custard, especially in pre-made cakes or pastries .
*Note that these foods are safe to eat if heated thoroughly until piping hot, that is, above 70°C.
More Foods To Avoid While Pregnant
It may seem daunting to keep track of all the foods you can and canât eat while pregnant. Here, weâve compiled some frequently asked questions about specific foods to help make it a little easier.
It may seem like a lot to consider, but a healthy pregnancy diet is as much about enjoying what you can eat as it is about looking out for what you cannot eat while pregnant. You might see this as an opportunity to sample some previously unknown foods â a fruit or vegetable youâve never tried, for example. Or, you might even learn how to cook an old favorite in a new way, like baked salmon prepared at home instead of salmon rolls from your neighborhood sushi spot.
Try not to dwell on any food restrictions, and instead focus on the endless opportunities to enrich your pregnancy diet. You can have a lot of fun sampling a rich variety of foods during your pregnancy, with your prenatal vitamins providing any extra nutrients you need.
As you get ready for the arrival of your little one, you may want to download the Pampers Club app. You have a lot to think about in the coming months, but weâre here to help make this journey easier. With the app you can get great rewards for all those diapers that are in your future!
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Fruit Juices Prepared Outside The House
Avoid Dairy products like cheese and paneer. Much of paneer, cream etc. that is available commercially is not made with pasteurized milk. Non pasteurized milk may contain various germs that can cause serious infections in pregnancy and so it is safe to avoid milk products not prepared at home. If you do buy milk products from outside make sure you check the label.
Eat A Variety Of Healthy Foods Each Day
Vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods:
- are all part of healthy eating during pregnancy
- contribute to the nutritional health of you and your baby
Try making half your plate vegetables and fruits at meals and snacks.
Choose foods that have little to no added:
- saturated fat
If you are not able to eat a variety of foods due to nausea or vomiting, speak to your health care provider.
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Say Yes To Healthy Fats And Oils
Among the many food restrictions during pregnancy, oils and fats are on top. Nutritionists do not advise completely giving them up, as they are beneficial for your babys brain and eye development. However, your oil intake should be limited to six teaspoons every day. It is also important to consume only plant oils like olive, canola or safflower. Regarding fat intake, solid fats are foods you should avoid taking in large amounts while pregnant so you do not gain excess weight.
Juice Made From Wheatgrass
The benefits of wheatgrass are tremendous to such a high degree that most women believe that a healthy pregnancy without consuming wheatgrass is a rarity. However, very few people know about the presence of various microbes and moulds present in wheatgrass. The conditions in which wheatgrass is harvested are usually damp and moist, making it a paradise for various microbes to thrive. Since wheatgrass juice is made from raw wheatgrass, these germs find their way into the juice which, when consumed, causes a massive imbalance in the nutrients present in your body.
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Foods That Are High In Fat Sugar Or Both
Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories, which can contribute to weight gain. Having sugary foods and drinks can also lead to tooth decay.
Fat is very high in calories, so eating too many fatty foods, or eating them too often, can make you put on weight. Eating too much saturated fat can also increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your chance of developing heart disease.
Foods that are high in fat, sugar, or both, include:
- all spreading fats
- fizzy drinks
If you’re having foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.
Healthy Start Vouchers For Pregnant Women
You may qualify for the Healthy Start scheme, which provides vouchers to pregnant women and families who qualify. The vouchers can be used to buy milk and plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables at local shops. You’ll also get coupons that can be exchanged for free vitamins locally.
For more information or to apply for the vouchers, you can:
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Drinks To Avoid Or Limit During Pregnancy
Now that youre set on smart ways for how to hydrate during pregnancy, lets take a minute to recap the no-nos.
- Alcohol. Steer clear of alcohol completely. Theres no level of alcohol thats safe to consume when youre pregnant.
- Unpasteurized juices. They could harbor illness-causing bacteria.
You should also limit your intake of:
- Caffeinated drinks. Experts agree its okay to have up to 200 milligrams of caffeine daily during pregnancy. Thats roughly the amount in 12 ounces of brewed coffee.
- Soda. It’s loaded with sugar and empty calories, and some evidence suggests that diet sodas could increase your babys odds of becoming overweight later in life.
- Juice. Its fine to have a little 100 percent fruit juice, but too much puts you at risk for taking in more calories or sugar than you need. As for juice drinks that arent 100 percent fruit juice? Steer clear of those completely.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
More On Healthy Pregnancy From Birth Eat Love
Our goal here is to make having a healthy pregnancy easier for busy Moms. We strive to provide you with useful and practical information that is research based. Healthy eating is one of our passions. Here are some more articles you may find helpful:
- Trying to figure out what to eat for dinner? This list of healthy pregnancy dinner recipes all contain pregnancy superfoods and are pretty easy to make.
- Finding snacks that are actually good for you can be a challenge during pregnancy. This post has over 50 healthy snack ideas that are low sugar, high protein and nutrient dense.
- Check out this page for all our best healthy pregnancy resources.
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