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Proper Nutrition During Pregnancy

Aug 17, 2007
For expectant mothers pregnancy nutrition is key to having a healthy baby. Proper nutrition throughout the pregnancy ensures that the unborn baby is able to get all the nourishment needed to develop and grow to full size. This does not mean mothers-to-be have a carte blanche to eat everything in sight.

Mothers who had pre-pregnancy nutritional problems or were overweight should not consider dieting during their pregnancy. Every effort should be made to follow doctors orders for proper weight gain. The actual figures vary however the average woman usually gains around twenty five to forty pounds during her pregnancy. There are essential nutrients every expectant mother should add to their daily intake.

Folic acid and iron are the most important vitamins needed for proper pregnancy nutrition. Expectant mothers should take 400 mg a day of Folic Acid, which helps prevent spina bifida and other brain damage from developing in the growing fetus. There are natural sources of folic acid in some foods, like leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans and some breakfast cereals. In addition, to prevent anemia it is a good idea for you while planning your pregnancy nutrition to keep iron-rich foods in mind such as:

- Lean red meats
- Fish
- Chicken or turkey
- Whole grain breads

Your baby also needs calcium to build strong bones. The U. S. Recommended Daily Allowance for Calcium for expectant mothers who wish to follow proper pregnancy nutrition guidelines is 1000 mg per day for pregnant and lactating mothers. In order to achieve this level you need to drink at least four glasses of milk. If you find you do not tolerate milk due to nausea or intolerance you could try eating yogurt or cheese, or even cottage cheese. Getting your calcium each day is very important.

During your pregnancy your eating habits might change. You may experience a short period of nausea in the beginning of your pregnancy. Some women never have morning sickness at all. Many women have cravings for unusual foods. Eating pickles with ice cream is generally okay once in a while, but keep in mind your overall pregnancy nutrition plan and know that everything you eat does have an impact on your health and that of your baby.

Naturally, you want to avoid:

- Caffeine
- Alcohol
- Artificial sweeteners
- High amounts of sodium
- Un-pasteurized milk products such as eggnog

Proper pregnancy nutrition will make a big difference in the birth weight and overall health of your newborn. Eating healthy foods starts your baby off on the right track.

As always, if you have any concerns you should always ask your doctor about any nutritional advice. They are there to guide you through your pregnancy and will gladly refer you to a registered dietician who can help you determine a plan that is just right for you.
About the Author
Azzam Sheikh
Facilitator 'Strengthening families, strengthening communities' parent programme.

pregnancy resource center
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