Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

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  What You Should Eat
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Good nutrition is vital to the health of your baby because your fetus is nourished by what you eat. There is no official "food pyramid" for pregnant women, but experts agree that for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, you should do the following:
  • Eat five or six small meals a day.
  • Never diet during pregnancy.
  • Gain between 25 and 35 pounds if you are average weight, less if you are high weight, more if you are low weight.
  • Take your daily prenatal vitamin supplements.
  • Eat extra protein and calcium each day.
  • Avoid fatty fish (swordfish, mackerel, shark, etc.) as they may contain high levels of mercury. For the same reason, don't eat more than 6 oz. of fresh or canned tuna per week.
  • Avoid raw fish (sushi and sashimi) and soft cheeses; they can cause infections that could harm your baby.

When trying to get pregnant, or when you are pregnant, your body needs extra vitamins and minerals. Critical fetal development occurs in the very early weeks of pregnancy when most women do not even know they are pregnant. Therefore, it's important that all women of childbearing age take a daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine. Dietary sources of folic acid include whole grains, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and liver. Since it's difficult to get enough folic acid from your diet alone, it's best to take a multivitamin every day.

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 5/17/2012