Choose this and not that when you are eating for two. Nutritious choices you make now will make for a healthier, happier baby later.
March 1, 2010
Good nutrition is so vital to growing a baby that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends you begin before you conceive. A pre- pregnancy visit to the doctor will help detect any special nutritional needs you might have and guide you to an optimal eating plan.
The ACOG suggests using the Food Pyramid created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Go to MyPyramid.gov and click on the My Pyramid for Moms, which is targeted toward expecting and breastfeeding women. Plug in your personal info such as age, weight, height, activity level, and pregnancy status. From there, you will be able to create a daily food menu specifically for your needs and tastes. You will be able to easily analyze your daily diet and get suggestions to improve it such as adding oatmeal or reducing your ice cream consumption.
A healthy diet includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. The Food Pyramid illustrates how many servings you should consume to get the nutrients you need from these basic food groups:
Meat and beans
Traditionally referred to as eating for two, the ACOG points out that the extra calories a woman needs to grow a healthy baby is only 100 to 300 calories a day. A small snack such as an egg salad sandwich meets that need. You don't want to "diet" while pregnant but pigging out is not a great idea, either.
In addition to a well-balanced diet, pregnant women need increased levels of folic acid and iron as well as other nutrients that are usually prescribed as a supplement.
The developing fetus is especially vulnerable to pollutants, bacteria, and viruses that can damage and even cause miscarriage. It is important to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly and to be careful not to contaminate one food source (such as lettuce) with another (such as raw meat).
The USDA and an army of medical organizations warn mommies-to-be to avoid:
Alcoholic beverages. Even moderate drinking during pregnancy can cause behavioral or developmental problems for a baby.
Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and albacore tuna are high in mercury, which damages fetuses and growing children. While the government says limited amounts of canned light tuna are okay, consumer groups report that mercury levels varied in the cans and were sometimes higher than safe for children and pregnant women. However, fish and shellfish are good sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. The Organic Consumers Association recommends the following low-mercury fare - anchovies, Arctic char, crawfish, Pacific flounder, herring, king crab, sand dabs, scallops, Pacific sole; tilapia, wild Alaska and Pacific salmon; farmed catfish, clams, striped bass, and sturgeon.
Unpasteurized juice, milk or soft cheeses.
Refrigerated pates and meat spreads. Canned versions are acceptable.
Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, shellfish and eggs.
Hot dogs or deli meats such as bologna, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
Excess caffeine. The Mayo Clinic points out that a 2008 study suggests that 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is a 12-ounce cup of brewed coffee, during pregnancy, may slow fetal growth.
Herbal teas. Get more information from a knowledgeable health care professional about herbs. Some, such as red raspberry leaf, can cause contractions.