Eating Healthy During Pregnancy
You need to eat about 300 more calories each day to help your baby grow. Don't waste calories on junk foods that are high in fat and sugar. Be sure to select wholesome foods from each of the four food groups to ensure that you get enough of the proper nutrients.
Fruits and Vegetables
Eat four or more half-cup servings a day. Drink plenty of fruit juices as well.
Breads and Cereals
These foods are the primary source of complex carbohydrates. Enriched breads and cereals also provide minerals and vitamins. These foods are most nutritious when consumed with meats and legumes. Choose whole grains over processed foods as these provide more fiber. Eat four servings a day.
Meat, Eggs, and Beans
Red meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and beans all are rich in protein, iron, and vitamins. They help build new body tissue that make up muscles, heart, lungs, brain, eyes, and skin. Red meats help prevent anemia from lack of iron. Eat three servings a day.
Foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins. They build bones and teeth and aid in the growth and repair of tissue and muscles. Drink four 8 ounce glasses of vitamin D milk. If you can't tolerate dairy products, you might take calcium supplements or Tums; ask your doctor for a list of alternate foods that are rich in calcium.
Water helps you digest foods and flush waste products out of the body. Drink eight or more glasses each day.
Your doctor will let you know how much weight gain is appropriate at different stages of pregnancy. Total weight gain should be 25 to 30 pounds. If you're underweight, you might try to gain a little more.
Here's where all that extra weight comes from:
4 to 6 lbs - stored fat, protein and other nutrients
2 to 3 lbs - added fluid
3 to 4 lbs - added blood
1 to 2 lbs - breast enlargement
about 2 lbs - uterus enlargement
6 to 8 lbs - the babyabout 2 lbs - amniotic fluid
1.5 lbs - the placenta
What to Avoid
The U.S. Surgeon General, along with many other medical authorities, advises that pregnant women avoid alcohol, which is known to cause birth defects and other problems. Consistent alcohol use during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in your baby, a permanent condition marked by lifelong mental and behavioral problems. Refraining from alcohol in early pregnancy is most important as that is when the baby's organs are forming. If you have a problem with alcohol, contact our center for a referral for help; you owe it to your baby and yourself.
If you smoke, quit now. If you are unable to stop on your own, ask your doctor about strategies for quitting. Low birth weight, premature birth, miscarriage, and other complications are linked to cigarette smoking. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict so that less oxygen and nourishment reaches the baby.
It's a good idea to cut back on your caffeine consumption when pregnant. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas, and other products. Be sure to discuss with your doctor how much caffeine, if any, you are permitted.
Many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescribed medications can harm your unborn child. Immediately discuss with your doctor all medications you are taking. Your obstetrician will give you a list of which OTC's are safe during pregnancy.
Drugs & Narcotics
Street drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and crack, can deprive developing babies of vital oxygen and nourishment and can cause babies to be born with addictions and/or birth defects. This is a preventable tragedy. If you are taking drugs and cannot stop, contact our center; we can refer you to a place where you can get help for yourself and your baby. More recently, authorities have been attempting to prosecute drug-abusing mothers for harm done to their new infants. Don't risk losing your baby, your life, or you health to drug abuse.
Avoid raw or not well cooked meat as well as contact with cats feces, which can both lead to toxoplasmosis infection. Avoid hot tubs, saunas, or exposure to illness that could cause a fever. Exercise moderately, but never to the point where your temperature becomes elevated. Avoid exposure to sexually transmitted disease.