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Pregnancy Nutrition

Without a doubt, a nutritious, well-balanced eating plan can be one of the greatest gifts you give to your soon-to-be-born baby. Adopting a healthy eating plan before pregnancy is ideal, but no matter how many weeks are left on your countdown calendar, its never too late to start! Supplying your own body with a tasty blend of nutritious foods can not only improve your fertility, keep you feeling healthy during pregnancy, and pave the way for an easier labor, but it can also help to establish essential building blocks of growth and overall health for your child. The food we eat on a daily basis affects how our bodies work, how we heal and grow, and how we maintain energy and strength for years to come. It also determines the basic nutritional health that our children are born with, and provides a model for their eating habits during childhood and beyond. Pregnancy is the one time in your life when your eating habits directly affect another person. Your decision to incorporate delicious vegetables, whole grains and legumes, lean protein, and other wise food choices into your eating plan before and during pregnancy will give your baby a strong start in life.

Weight Change and Calories


It is a wonderful fact --your body will gain weight during your pregnancy! As you watch your weight begin to increase, take it as proof that your body is nurturing your growing baby. By the time you are ready to give birth, your total blood volume will have increased by as much as 60%. Your breasts will have filled with milk. Your uterus will have grown to accommodate your baby and has filled with amniotic fluid; your baby has grown to weigh 6 to 10 pounds (on average). To accomplish all of these productive changes, your body needs approximately 300 extra calories per day during your 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Every woman should discuss her individual nutrient needs with her health care provider. Do not neglect your babys health by neglecting your own!

Myth: Now that you are pregnant, you should be eating for two (or twice as much!). Fact: It is true that your nutrient needs increase, but energy requirements only increase about 300 calories per day for the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

Myth: Gaining less weight during pregnancy will make delivery easier. Fact: Mothers who do not gain enough weight during pregnancy place their babies at risk for severe complications such as premature birth, which can cause lung and heart problems.

Myth: If you gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy, none of it will be fat gain.

Fact: A healthy pregnancy includes fat storage. Your body uses this excess fat as energy during labor and breastfeeding.

Myth: Pregnant women only crave the foods their bodies need. Fact: Pregnant women can crave foods of any type. Cravings should not be the sole indicator of nutritional needs.

Myth : A pregnant woman who is healthy will not experience discomforts. Fact: Nausea, heartburn, and constipation are not biased! They will afflict women regardless of healthy living. However, women who regularly eat healthy, wholesome foods, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and avoid excess sugar and fat may significantly reduce these uncomfortable symptoms.

Food Groups
It is helpful to pay attention to recommended daily servings from each food group. Most foods come with a nutrition label attached. This nutrition label will help you to know what amount constitutes one serving.

Protein (Meats, Beans, Etc.)


Experts recommend 75 to 100 grams of protein per day. Protein in your foods positively affects the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy, and it plays a helping part in your increasing blood supply. Examples of daily sources of protein:

2-3 servings of meat (1 serving = approximately 3 ounces/ size of a deck of cards)


y y y y y y y y

fully cooked fish or seafood liver chicken lean beef lamb pork nuts (1 serving = approximately cup) tofu (1 serving = approximately cup)

2-3 servings of legumes (1 serving = approximately cup)


y y y y y y

split peas red and white kidney beans black beans navy beans black-eyed peas chick peas (garbanzo beans)

Calcium (Dairy, etc.)


Daily requirement of calcium is around 1000 milligrams during pregnancy. Calcium helps your body regulate fluids, and it helps build your babys bones and tooth buds. Examples of daily sources of calcium:

3-4 servings of dairy


y y y y y y y y y y

milk (1 serving = 1 cup) eggs (1 serving = 1 large egg) yogurt (1 serving = 1cup) pasteurized cheese (1 serving = approximately 1.5 ounces/ or 4 playing dice stacked together) tofu (1 serving = cup) white beans (1 serving = approximately cup) almonds (1 serving = approximately cup) salmon (1 serving = approximately 3 ounces) turnip greens (1 serving = approximately 1 cup) cabbage (1 serving = approximately 1 cup)

Iron (Vegetables, Grains, Meat, etc.)


In combination with sodium, potassium, and water, iron helps increase your blood volume and prevent anemia. A daily intake of 27 milligrams is ideal during pregnancy. Examples of daily sources of iron:

2-3 servings of green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately 1 cup)


y y y y y

collard turnip spinach lettuce cabbage

3 servings of whole grains (1 serving = approximately. cup or one slice)


y y y y

bread cornmeal cereal oatmeal

2-3 servings of lean protein (1 serving = approximately 3 ounces/ size of a deck of cards)
y y y

beef seafood poultry

Folate/Folic Acid (Legumes, etc.)


Folic acid plays a key role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Experts recommend 600 to 800 micrograms (.6 to .8 milligrams) daily. Examples of daily sources of folate:

2 servings of dark green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately 1 cup)


y y y y y

collard turnip spinach lettuce cabbage

2-3 servings of fruit (1 serving = approximately cup)


y y y y y y y y

orange strawberry lemon mango tomato grapefruit kiwi melon

3 serving of whole grain (1 serving = approximately cup or 1 slice)


y y y y

bread cornmeal cereal oatmeal

2 servings of legumes (1 serving = approximately cup)


y y y y y y

split peas red and white kidney beans black beans navy beans black-eyed peas chick peas (garbanzo beans)

Vitamin C (Fruit, etc.)


Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C will help with wound healing, tooth and bone development, and promotes metabolic processes. Experts recommend at least 85 milligrams per day. Examples of daily sources of Vitamin C:

3 servings of fruit or vegetables (1 serving = approximately cup)


y y y y y y y y y y

orange strawberry lemon mango tomato grapefruit kiwi melon potato peppers

What are the foods I should avoid during pregnancy?


Raw Meat: Uncooked seafood and rare or undercooked beef or poultry should be avoided because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. Deli Meat: Deli meats have been known to be contaminated with listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which may be life-threatening. If you are pregnant and you are considering eating deli meats, make certain that you reheat the meat until it is steaming.

Fish with Mercury: Fish that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided. Mercury consumed during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. A sample of these types of fish include: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Canned, chunk light tuna generally has a lower amount of mercury than other tuna, but still should only be eaten in moderation. Certain types of fish used in sushi should also be avoided due to high levels of mercury. Please see Mercury in Fish for specific types of fish and further information on how to calculate mercury levels. Smoked Seafood -Refrigerated, smoked seafood often labeled as lox, nova style, kippered, or jerky should be avoided because it could be contaminated with Listeria. (These are safe to eat when they are in an ingredient in a meal that has been cooked, like a casserole.) This type of fish is often found in the deli section of your grocery store. Canned or shelf-safe smoked seafood is usually OK to eat. Fish Exposed to Industrial Pollutants: Avoid fish from contaminated lakes and rivers that may be exposed to high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls. This is primarily for those who fish in local lakes and streams. These fish include: bluefish, striped bass, salmon, pike, trout, and walleye. Contact the local health department or Environmental Protection Agency to determine which fish are safe to eat in your area. Remember, this is regarding fish caught in local waters and not fish from your local grocery store. Your purchase supports the APA Raw Shellfish: The majority of seafood-borne illness is caused by undercooked shellfish, which include oysters, clams, and mussels. Cooking helps prevent some types of infection, but it does not prevent the algae-related infections that are associated with red tides. Raw shellfish pose a concern for everybody, and they should be avoided altogether during pregnancy. Raw Eggs: Raw eggs or any foods that contain raw eggs should be avoided because of the potential exposure to salmonella. Some homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custards, and Hollandaise sauces may be made with raw eggs. If the recipe is cooked at some point, this will reduce the exposure to salmonella. Commercially manufactured ice cream, dressings, and eggnog are made with pasteurized eggs and do not increase the risk of salmonella. Restaurants should be using pasteurized eggs in any recipe that is made with raw eggs, such as Hollandaise sauce or dressings. Soft Cheeses: Imported soft cheeses may contain bacteria called Listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which can be life-threatening. You would need to avoid soft cheeses such as: Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Feta, Gorgonzola and Mexican style cheeses that include queso blanco and queso fresco, unless they clearly state that they are made from pasteurized milk. All soft non-imported cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe to eat. Unpasteurized Milk: Unpasteurized milk may contain bacteria called listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which can be life-threatening. Make sure that any milk you drink is pasteurized.

Pate: Refrigerated pate or meat spreads should be avoided because they may contain the bacteria listeria. Canned pate, or shelf-safe meat spreads can be eaten. Caffeine: Although most studies show that caffeine intake in moderation is OK, there are others that show that caffeine intake may be related to miscarriages. Avoid caffeine during the first trimester to reduce the likelihood of a miscarriage. As a general rule, caffeine should be limited to fewer than 300 mg per day during pregnancy. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it helps eliminate fluids from the body. This can result in water and calcium loss. It is important that you are drinking plenty of water, juice, and milk rather than caffeinated beverages. Some research shows that large amounts of caffeine are associated with miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in infants. The safest thing is to refrain from consuming caffeine. Alcohol: There is NO amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy, and therefore alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can interfere with the healthy development of the baby. Depending on the amount, timing, and pattern of use, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other developmental disorders. If you consumed alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, stop drinking now. You should continue to avoid alcohol during breastfeeding. Exposure of alcohol to an infant poses harmful risks, and alcohol does reach the baby during breastfeeding. Unwashed Vegetables: Yes, vegetables are safe to eat, so you still need to eat them. However, it is essential to make sure they are washed to avoid potential exposure to toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis may contaminate the soil where the vegetables were grown.