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Eating Right For Pregnancy

Women who are planning on becoming pregnant or are already need to eat a balanced diet. If you're pregnant, you need to increase the number of calories you take in each day to provide for a growing fetus. Eating right is one of the most important things a woman needs to do to keep herself and her unborn child healthy. With a proper diet, the fetus will grow at a healthy rate, and good nutrition can help avoid low birth weight or premature delivery. The mother also needs a healthy diet, as she can suffer from infection, anemia, and a difficult birth if she doesn't get a variety of nutritional foods in her pregnancy diet.

A pregnant woman needs about 300 extra calories each day. However, this doesn't give you free reign to indulge in high fat treats and sweets. If you choose to fill your extra calorie intake with unhealthy foods, the fetus will take what it needs from your body. Instead, these extra calories should come from healthy sources, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources.

If you have certain dietary restrictions, or eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, you need to talk to a nutritionist to make sure you're getting all of the necessary nutrients. You'll need to make up protein sources from tofu, legumes and nuts. For a normal pregnancy, you'll need to consume the following every day:

-3-5 servings of vegetables

-2-4 servings of fruit

-2-3 servings of dairy products

-2-3 servings of meat and poultry (or vegetarian proteins)

-6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta

These servings break down into adequate amounts of protein for proper fetal development, calcium for healthy fetal and placental development, and iron for the mother and baby's blood supply. Iron also helps prevent anemia in the mother. Foods like leafy green vegetables and orange juice also contain folates folic acid is essential for preventing neural tube defects (anencephaly and spina bifida).

Besides eating a healthy diet, a woman who plans on becoming pregnant or already is needs to take a supplement containing folic acid and other nutrients. At least 400 micrograms of folic acid should be taken each day if you're trying to conceive, or if you are pregnant. Since neural tube defects occur in the first few weeks after conception, it's imperative that you take folic acid even if you aren't yet pregnant.

You should limit the amount of certain fish you eat because of high mercury content. Avoid fish with high mercury altogether, such as tuna, swordfish and ray. One to two servings per week of fish is fine, but don't exceed that amount as mercury poses a large risk to both pregnant women and unborn babies.

If you're a java junkie, you need to stop or dramatically cut down. While an occasional cup of coffee won't hurt, drinking four cups every day can. Women who consume excessive amounts of caffeine increase the risk of miscarriage, and may have a baby that has problems with hyperactivity later in life. The same goes for soda not only is the high caffeine content unhealthy, but you lose phosphorus and calcium from your bones, which is essential for a healthy pregnancy.Fats and oils should be used very sparingly, along with sweets. Although you need to pay attention to salad dressings, butter and desserts don't cut fat entirely out of your diet.


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