Nutrition Tips for Future Mommies

Choose this and not that when you are eating for two. Nutritious choices you make now will make for a healthier, happier baby later.

Joan Westlake

HealthKey.com contributor

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:

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: