Pregnancy is a time to take the best possible care of your health. You are not only eating for your own health, but also for the growth and development of your baby.
You’re eating for two, but that does not mean eating whatever and however much you want.
Eat a balanced diet
Center your diet around nutrient-dense foods such as lean proteins, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This is a time for fewer sweets and treats.
Take your vitamins
You need more of certain vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet meets most of these needs and prenatal vitamins are specially formulated to fill in the gaps. Important prenatal vitamin ingredients include calcium, iron and folic acid.
Gain the right amount of weight for you
Pregnancy weight gain depends on your health and weight before you were pregnant. With normal weight before pregnancy, you should gain 25 - 35 pounds. If you were underweight, you should gain more. If you were overweight, you should gain less. Discuss your situation and make a plan with your midwife or doctor.
Get your omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are good fats, and important for your baby’s brain development, as well as good for your brain, blood pressure and heart. Sources include salmon, herring, sardines and fresh-water trout. According to the March of Dimes, you can eat up to 12 ounces per week of these fish.
Nuts and foods that have added DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Some brands of orange juice, milk and eggs are fortified with DHA. Read the label to check.
Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses per day of fluid, including water, milk, juice, tea and other drinks. Juice and sweetened drinks contain extra calories, so don't rely on them too much.
Don't hesitate to drink fluids because you're afraid of retaining water. It’s actually dehydration that contributes to swelling from fluid retention.
Don’t consume flaxseed and flaxseed oils
Even though these are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, some studies have shown they can be harmful during pregnancy. Until we know more, avoid these if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Don’t eat certain types of fish
Some fish have higher levels of mercury (linked to birth defects). March of Dimes recommends avoiding shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, and limiting white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week. If eating local fish, check local advisories. Avoid all raw and seared fish.
Don’t consume foods that may contain the bacteria Listeriosis
Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to get Listeriosis than the general population. Usually with flu-like symptoms, Listeriosis may also have no symptoms, and can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery.
Avoid unpasteurized milk, hot dogs, luncheon meats and cold cuts (unless they are heated until steaming hot just before serving), pâté, meat spread, smoked seafood, raw and undercooked seafood, raw eggs and raw or rare meat.
Limit empty calories
Empty calories are foods with little or no nutrient value, including processed foods such as donuts, cakes, candy, soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and chips. Save these for the occasional treat.
Do not drink alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, liquor or mixed drinks. Even moderate drinking during pregnancy can cause behavioral or developmental problems for your baby. Heavy drinking during pregnancy can result in malformation and mental retardation.
As with everything concerning your pregnancy, it’s important to bring any questions or concerns to your midwife or doctor. You and your health care provider can work together to be sure you are getting the best possible nutrition.
How GMC Can Help
Whether you’re pregnant or considering having a baby, GMC offers services designed for every stage of a woman’s life. Read more about pregnancy, find your due date with our online calculator, or test your knowledge with quizzes, all at our Health (e) Library at gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/wellness.