Diet and Nutrition During Pregnancy

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When you’re pregnant, making healthy food choices and watching the amount of weight you gain are important.

It’s important to eat a balanced diet and avoid foods that may be harmful during pregnancy. Foods may be dangerous depending on how they’re prepared. Germs and chemicals in certain foods also may pose a threat to your health or your baby.

You should avoid:

  • Raw meat, fish and eggs – if they are not cooked, they are not safe
  • Dairy products or juices that are not pasteurized – check the labels and select pasteurized products
  • Too much caffeine – check the labels for amounts and know how much you’re getting
  • Fish with mercury like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish - it’s alright to eat shrimp, salmon and tuna if fully cooked, as they don't contain large amounts of mercury
  • Refrigerated pates, meat spreads or smoked seafood
  • Some raw vegetables such as alfalfa sprouts

Folic Acid and Vitamins

All women should be taking folic acid before and during pregnancy. Folic acid is a B vitamin that the cells in your body require for healthy growth and development. If you take it every day before and during pregnancy, it may help prevent birth defects in your baby’s developing brain and spine, called neural tube defects.

Most multivitamins contain folic acid but be sure to check the labels and discuss the amounts you need with your healthcare provider. You can get prenatal vitamins over the counter or get ones that are prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Some breads, cereals and pasta contain folic acid. Other good sources include beans like lentils, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, peanuts, citrus fruits and orange juice from concentrate.

Weight Gain – Not Too Much or Too Little

Gaining too much or too little weight during pregnancy may not be good for you or your baby. Women who gain too much are more likely to have conditions like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy. They also may deliver a large baby or a premature baby. Women who gain too little may have a baby with low birth weight, which can lead to other health complications for your baby.