Diet and Nutrition
Diet and nutrition play a major role in having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. It is very important to visit your health care provider before becoming pregnant or as soon as you know you are pregnant. Your health care provider can help you to determine what you should and should not be eating as well as inform you of any supplements you should take. He/she can also assist you with alternatives if you have any known food allergies and/or aversions. Aversions (sudden intense dislike) to certain foods and/or smells are very common in pregnancy.
According to the CDC, some serious birth defects can be prevented if pregnant mothers receive proper nutrition. Part of receiving proper nutrition is making sure that you are eating 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. It is recommended that woman start taking folic acid before they become pregnant and throughout their pregnancy. Research has found that, getting enough folic acid can prevent up to 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects.
Here are some suggestions for your diet and nutrition that you can follow after you have discussed them with your health care provider.
- Drink extra fluids; water is best.
- Eat well. See USDA link below for more information.
- Take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily both before pregnancy and during the first few months of pregnancy.
- Take iron during your pregnancy as recommended by your doctor, to reduce the risk of anemia.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol.
- Do not eat raw fish, soft cheeses, and raw or undercooked meat and poultry.
- Limit your consumption of tuna and other cooked fish to about 12 ounces a week, the equivalent of about two servings. The FDA notes that these fish contain methyl mercury, a metal believed to be harmful in high doses to the growing brains of fetuses and young children.
- Cut back or skip caffeinated beverages.
- Make sure you are at a healthy weight before becoming pregnant. Being overweight or underweight can have a negative impact on your health and the health of your baby.
Remember that diet and nutrition play a major role in having a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby. See your health care provider as soon as possible to discuss proper diet and nutrition and to have any of your questions answered and any concerns addressed.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a food pyramid especially for pregnant and breastfeeding women.