Ideally pregnant patients can consult a dietician for a healthy diet during pregnancy. A dietician can give you a list of foods to consume daily and their alternatives. The amounts are calculated according to the patient’s height, prepregnancy weight, due date, and how much she exercises during the week.
The amounts of food are given in standard sizes that most people are familiar with, such as cups and grams. The list will contain nutrients from five food groups.
Although they are not a food group, oils and fats do give you important nutrients. During pregnancy, the fats that you eat provide energy and help build many fetal organs and the placenta.
Most of the fats and oils in your diet should come from plant sources. Limit solid fats, such as those from animal sources. Solid fats also can be found in processed foods.
Vitamins and minerals play important roles in all of your body functions. During pregnancy, you need more folic acid and iron than a woman who is not pregnant.
Taking a prenatal vitamin supplement can ensure that you are getting these extra amounts. A well-rounded diet should supply all of the other vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy.
Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is important for pregnant women. Before pregnancy and during pregnancy, you need 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine called neural tube defects.
Current dietary guidelines recommend that pregnant women get at least 600 micrograms of folic acid daily from all sources. It may be hard to get the recommended amount of folic acid from food alone. For this reason, all pregnant women and all women who may become pregnant should take a daily vitamin supplement that contains folic acid.
Iron is used by your body to make a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy, you need extra iron—about double the amount that a nonpregnant woman needs. This extra iron helps your body make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby.
The daily recommended dose of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg, which is found in most prenatal vitamin supplements. You also can eat iron-rich foods, including lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, and prune juice. Iron also can be absorbed more easily if iron-rich foods are eaten with vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
Calcium is used to build your baby’s bones and teeth. All women, including pregnant women, aged 19 years and older should get 1,000 mg of calcium daily; those aged 14–18 years should get 1,300 mg daily.
Milk and other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, are the best sources of calcium. If you have trouble digesting milk products, you can get calcium from other sources, such as broccoli; dark, leafy greens; sardines; or a calcium supplement.
Vitamin D works with calcium for the baby’s bone and teeth development. It also is essential for healthy skin and eyesight. All women, including those who are pregnant, need 600 international units of vitamin D a day. Good sources are milk fortified with vitamin D and fatty fish such as salmon. Exposure to sunlight also converts a chemical in the skin to vitamin D.
The amount of weight gain that is recommended depends on your health and your body mass index before you were pregnant. If you were a normal weight before pregnancy, you should gain between 25 pounds and 35 pounds during pregnancy.
If you were underweight before pregnancy, you should gain more weight than a woman who was a normal weight before pregnancy. If you were overweight or obese before pregnancy, you should gain less weight.
Overweight and obese women are at an increased risk of several pregnancy problems. These problems include gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and cesarean delivery. Babies of overweight and obese mothers also are at greater risk of certain problems, such as birth defects, macrosomia with possible birth injury, and childhood obesity.
Although there have been many studies on whether caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage, the results are unclear. Most experts state that consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine (one 12-ounce cup of coffee) a day during pregnancy is safe.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat found naturally in many kinds of fish. They may be important factors in your baby’s brain development both before and after birth.
To get the most benefits from omega-3 fatty acids, women should eat at least two servings of fish or shellfish (about 8–12 ounces) per week and while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Since some of the fish types have higher levels of a metal called mercury than others which is known to cause birth defects, some of the fish types shoud not be consumed during pregnancy. Choose fish and shellfish such as shrimp, salmon, catfish, and pollock.
Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish. White (albacore) tuna should not be consumed more than 6 ounces a week.
Food poisoning in a pregnant woman can cause serious problems for both her and her baby. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause your body to lose too much water and can disrupt your body’s chemical balance.
To prevent food poisoning, follow these general guidelines;
Listeriosis is a type of food-borne illness caused by bacteria. Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to get listeriosis than the general population. Listeriosis can cause mild, flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea, but it also may not cause any symptoms.
Listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery. Antibiotics can be given to treat the infection and to protect your unborn baby.
To help prevent listeriosis, avoid eating the following foods during pregnancy: