Nutrition During Pregnancy
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A healthy and balanced diet is critical in pregnancy. Your growing child gets his or her nutrition directly from you, so pregnancy is a great time to make changes to your eating habits which will have lasting positive effects.
Too much weight gain over the next nine months increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes of pregnancy and having a large baby (macrosomia). Insufficient weight gain often results in underweight babies who sometimes have a more difficult transition following delivery.
There is a safe balance that can be achieved. Here are some pointers to get you started on a healthy diet.
Your weight matters. Guidelines for weight gain in pregnancy have been established based on your pre-pregnancy BMI (weight in relation to height). Keeping these guidelines in mind and discussing them with your doctor is very important.
|Pre-pregnancy BMI||Single Pregnancy||Twin Pregnancy|
|Underweight (<18.5)||28-40 lbs||No data available|
|Normal weight (19-25)||25-35 lbs||37-54 lbs|
|Overweight (25-30)||15-25 lbs||31-50 lbs|
|Obese (>30)||11-20 lbs||25-42 lbs|
Recommended guidelines for weight gain (Institute of Medicine, 2009)
A daily prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid is important before, during and after your pregnancy. If you are planning to breastfeed, you should continue your prenatal vitamins until you stop nursing.
Most foods are safe during pregnancy. If you have questions about a specific food, talk to your doctor. Here are some quick reminders:
Caffeine in pregnancy is OK in moderation. The maximum recommended daily intake is less than 200mg.
|Grande Starbucks coffee||550|
|Brewed coffee (8 oz)||135|
|Tea bag or leaf (8 oz)||35|
|Regular soda (12 oz)||35-55|
|Red Bull (8.3 oz)||80|
Any meat, fish or poultry you eat during pregnancy must be fully cooked. It is advisable to limit processed/deli meats especially if you are unable to store or refrigerate them appropriately.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, inform your doctor and consider adding a multivitamin to your diet. It might be important to meet with a dietitian to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of folic acid, vitamin B12 and zinc.
Avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tile fish, which contain high levels of mercury. Up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of fish that are low in mercury such as shrimp, canned light tuna (not albacore), salmon, pollock and catfish is considered safe.
If you are carrying twins, the recommendations for weight gain in pregnancy are roughly double. Healthy choices are still important.
Herbal medicines should be avoided. The inactive ingredients in many over-the-counter products are not FDA-regulated and could be harmful to your baby.
The appropriate level of Vitamin D in pregnancy is unknown and the ideal amount of supplementation is not universally agreed upon. Too much Vitamin D can be toxic. Vegetarians, patients with limited sun exposure, patients with dark skin complexions or patients with a known Vitamin D deficiency might benefit from supplementation.
Fish oils are safe to take during pregnancy.
Avoid alcohol and smoking during pregnancy.
Food cravings are common in pregnancy and are not harmful as long as you continue to eat a healthy diet. Cravings for starch, chalk or clay, known as Pica, can be harmful.