Mother's Health and Well-Being - Nutrition
A diet that is well balanced and nutritious is important for everyone. However, for pregnant women it is especially important to pay attention to what they are eating because the developing baby is depending on Mom for all the nutrients he or she will need to be born healthy. The food that pregnant women eat can help their babies to grow and prevent birth defects.
Most Pregnant Women Only Need About 300 Extra Calories a Day!
Some things that expectant women should keep in mind about their dietary needs:
Eat a Variety of Healthy Foods Each Day
- Vegetables - 3 servings a day
- Fruits - 2 servings a day
- Whole Grains - 6 servings a day (breads, cereals, pasta)
- Dairy - 4 servings a day (yogurt, tofu, milk, cheese)
- Protien - 3 servings a day (meat, nuts, beans)
For more information on the recommended daily intake and serving portions visit the USDA webiste.
Be Sure You are Getting the Vitamins and Minerals Needed to Support a Healthy Pregnancy
- Calcium - can be found in foods such as milk, tofu, cheese, yogurt, and dark leafy vegetables (such as spinach).
- Iron and Zinc - can be found in beans, whole grains and red meat.
- Folic Acid - can be found in foods such as beans, oranges, spinach and turnip greens. Some grains are fortified with folic acid so check the labels on cereals, breads and rice to make sure.
If you are concerned about whether you are getting the right amount of nutrients from your diet, speak with your health care provider about taking a prenatal vitamin supplement.
Drink Plenty of Water
Pregnant women should drink SIX to EIGHT glasses of water a day and even more in the hot weather. A glass of water equals 8 ounces so it's not as much as it sounds! About 3 or 4 bottles of water is all you need to stay hydrated.
Do NOT Drink Alcohol!!!!
No Amount of Alcohol is Safe During Pregnancy!!
Beer, wine and liquor can all cause serious and permanent damage to your developing baby. Click here for more information on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Limit the Amount of CAFFEINE You Drink
While the research isn't clear, there have been findings to show that pregnant women who drink a lot of caffeine are at higher risk for miscarriage and premature delivery (before 37 weeks) and are more likely to have a baby with a low birth weight.
Caffeine can be found in a variety of foods and beverages such as:
- Energy Drinks
Remeber that your baby drinks and eats everything you do so if you consume a lot of caffeine, so does your baby.
Babies can be born dependant on caffeine and may experience similar withdrawal symptoms after delivery (ie. headaches, irritability).
If you are concerned about your caffeine intake, speak with your health care provider about the best options for you and your baby.
Make Sure All Your Food is Fully Cooked
Food poisoning can be very dangerous to you baby. Fully cooking foods can minimize the risk of infection from bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. Foods that can carry these bacteria include:
- Poultry (Chicken and turkey)
Eat 4-6 Small Meals a Day
This will help keep your ENERGY up and help with any nausea or indigestion you are experiencing.
Gaining TOO MUCH or TOO LITTLE weight during your pregnancy can have an impact on the baby. Most women need to gain about 25-35 pounds for a healthy pregnancy.
Because every woman's body is different, be sure to speak with your health care provider for more information about your nutritional needs!!
Expectant Mothers with Diabetes Face Risky Challenge - USA Today, July 6, 2009