Nutrition in Pregnancy
Take a daily prenatal vitamin. Vitamins are meant to supplement, not replace, a well-balanced diet. Nutrients are best absorbed in the foods in which they are naturally found. Try to eat a variety of foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
Protein helps you feel good and helps your baby develop. Good sources include lean meat, fish, poultry, seafood, yogurt, cheese, beans, peas, legumes, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds. Aim for 60-80g per day.
Calcium is important for your baby's bones and teeth. You should try to get at least 1000 mg a day. Try to get four to five servings of dairy per day (e.g., milk, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream). If you do not tolerate or like dairy, you can get it from other sources, such as broccoli, dark leafy greens, sardines, milk alternatives or a calcium supplement.
Folic acid is important to help prevent major birth defects to the spine and brain of the baby. It is currently recommended that pregnant women get 600 mcg of folic acid daily. It is hard to get folic acid from diet alone, so pregnant women should take a prenatal vitamin that contains a minimum of 400 mcg of folic acid.
Iron is used by the body in the production of red blood cells. Pregnant women need extra iron to make more blood to help supply good oxygen to their babies. The recommended daily dose is 27 mg of elemental iron. This is found in most prenatal vitamins. Eating iron-rich foods is also helpful as some women will become anemic as the pregnancy progresses. Good dietary sources of iron include lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables and prunes. Iron is more easily absorbed if eaten with vitamin C-rich foods (citrus and tomatoes).
Vitamin D works with calcium in the development of the baby’s bones and teeth. It is also important for skin and eyesight. All women need 600IU daily. Good sources are vitamin D-fortified milk and fatty fish like salmon.
Omega 3 fatty acids are important for baby’s brain development. You should try to eat two servings of fish or shellfish (about 8-12 ounces) per week while pregnant and breastfeeding. Some prenatal vitamins also contain it or you can get a supplement.
Caffeine intake should be limited to 200 mg per day (one 12-ounce coffee).
Avoid undercooked, contaminated meat and eggs. Avoid unpasteurized cheese and milk.
Avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury, including king mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish. Limit white (albacore) tuna to six ounces a week. Check local advisories about fish caught in local waters.
Avoid smoking, illicit drug use, and alcohol during pregnancy. Nicotine, alcohol, and drugs cross the placenta and can affect your unborn child. They can decrease the amount of oxygen your baby receives, restrict fetal growth, increase preterm labor, increase risks of sudden infant death, increase risks of asthma, cause learning disabilities, cause behavioral problems, and increase the risk of miscarriage.
If you need help quitting, the Lurie Cancer Center Tobacco Cessation Program can help.
Gestational Diabetes Meal Planning
A healthy meal plan is important for managing your blood glucose.