Nutrition during pregnancy
Nutrition during pregnancy is important for delivery of a healthy baby. It requires a lot of nutrients to grow a baby, and eating should not just be haphazard. A wide variety of foods at three meals can ensure a good intake of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
- No more than 200 mg per day of caffeine is recommended, and that is equal to one 12-oz. cup of coffee, unless your doctor says otherwise.
- Folic acid supplementation is suggested before becoming pregnant to prevent fetal neural tube defects.
What to do if nausea and vomiting are a problem:
- It can help to sip on water or eat a few plain crackers before getting up in the morning.
- Avoid strong odors from food and household items.
- Avoid spicy and/or greasy foods.
- Enjoy small meals – slightly under eat so that the stomach is not overfilled.
- Continue to drink plenty of fluids during the day to keep up hydration.
General nutrition guidelines during pregnancy:
- Strive for 10 cups fluids/beverages.
- Get in plenty of lean protein; this can include vegetarian options such as nuts, legumes and tofu.
- Incorporate whole-grains, fruits and vegetables into all meals for a natural supply of fiber. Taking prenatal vitamin-mineral supplement with extra iron can cause constipation.
All fish contains at least some mercury, but certain fish are much higher in mercury content. These fish should be avoided during pregnancy:
- King mackerel.
- Raw or undercooked fish.
Albacore tuna should be limited to just 6 oz. per week. These fish should be limited to 8-12 oz. per week total – salmon, tilapia, cod, catfish, shrimp and light tuna.
Food safety is also important during pregnancy, especially because an intake of foods that carry E. coli, listeria or salmonella can be so dangerous to both mother and fetus. That means avoiding:
- Unpasteurized milk.
- Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk.
- Unpasteurized cider or fruit juice.
- Raw fish including sushi.
- Raw or undercooked eggs.
Luncheon meats and hotdogs need to be reheated before eating. And all fish, poultry and meat needs to be cooked to the recommended safe internal temperature. Best to be safe.
Recipes to try:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.