Healthy Eating: Eating a well-balanced diet is an important part of staying healthy throughout your life, but it’s especially important during pregnancy for you and your baby. A healthy balance of meats, vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy are recommended. Good sources of protein may be obtained from lean meats, poultry, fish, and milk products. The remainder of the diet should be well balanced with vegetables, fruits, whole-grain breads, and whole-grain cereal products. Be cautious of fats and concentrated sugars (candy, soft drinks), which have many empty calories. If you have some fluid retention, watch out for very salty foods (canned meats, canned soups, chips, pretzels, etc.). And remember to read labels! Salt is an important part of a balanced diet, but they’re hidden salts in many processed foods.
If you are struggling with what and how much you should eat, putting together a meal plan can help! Click on our Valley Nutrition Guide for an example of a well-rounded meal plan to get you started.
Vitamins: A daily prenatal vitamin supplement is recommended for every woman in pregnancy. If you are a vegetarian, please discuss this with your doctor. You will need to be sure you are getting adequate protein, iron, vitamins B12 and vitamin D. *Forte Elements offers an excellent prenatal vitamin.
Folic acid/Iron: Be sure that 0.4 to 0.8 mg (400 – 800 mcg) of folic acid is included in your prenatal vitamin. This is especially important during and before becoming pregnant to decrease certain types of birth defects. Prenatal vitamins also have a sufficient amount of iron needed for most women to prevent iron‐deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Very large doses of vitamins may be harmful and should be avoided.
Caffeine: Caffeine is contained in coffee, tea, chocolate, colas, and some other soft drinks. It is a stimulant and should be limited to 1-2 servings a day.
Alcohol: Alcoholic Beverages are NEVER recommended during pregnancy! Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can put the baby at risk for growth restriction, birth defects, problems with joints and limbs, and mental and behavioral problems. There is no known safe level of alcohol in pregnancy.
Mercury: Fish is a good source of protein and other nutrients, however, some types may contain high levels of mercury which may affect the baby’s development. Fish such as shark, king mackerel, and swordfish should be limited. No fish should be eaten raw (sushi).
Smoking: Smoking is strongly discouraged, as it is known to decrease the amount of oxygen received by the fetus, therefore impairing growth and development. Passive exposure to tobacco use by other household members has the same effect on the fetus. A baby born to a smoking mother is more susceptible to respiratory infections and other physical ailments. Please ask us about information/programs which can help you to stop smoking and have a healthier lifestyle for you, your baby, and others around you.
For more related information on nutrition in pregnancy, see the following posts:
Unsafe foods in pregnancy