Practical advice for new parents

Pregnancy Nutrition

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There never is a time in a woman’s life when good nutrition is as important as when she is expecting a baby. Ideally, practicing good 'pregnancy nutrition' should be a part of a woman’s routine before she even begins trying to become pregnant. Studies have proven that women who eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy are less likely to suffer from infertility, develop complications during pregnancy, or deliver a baby with health problems.

If you already eat healthy foods and are pregnant, you can continue to follow your same routine though you will probably need to begin taking a prenatal vitamin supplement. It is a common misconception that a pregnant woman is eating for two. In fact, the average pregnant woman only needs 200 more calories per day to support a developing baby.

Most pregnancy experts are in agreement that the ideal weight gain during the entire nine months should be between 25-35 lbs / 11-15kgs for a woman of normal weight. It is generally suggested for women who are overweight to gain somewhat less, and those who are underweight or are expecting twins or higher multiples to gain additional pounds. Under no circumstance is pregnancy the appropriate time to begin a restrictive calorie diet. Low maternal weight gain has been associated with preterm delivery and low birth weight babies. As well, pregnancy is not the time to eat uncontrollably. Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension), fatigue, heartburn, and constipation.

While maintaining a well-balanced diet during pregnancy can be challenging, especially for those who have less than ideal eating habits, it is one of the best ways to ensure an uncomplicated pregnancy and a healthy baby. Here is a quick overview of smart pregnancy nutritional choices:

Whole Grains

Brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread or pasta

Fruits and Vegetables

Cooked, raw, or juice, two servings of fruit and three of vegetables is optimum.

Protein

Lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, tofu, and beans

Dairy Products

Nonfat milk, yogurt, cheese

Water

Drink bottled or purified water where possible.

Fat

Limited consumption. Fat should be no more than 30 percent of the daily caloric intake. Common sources of fat include salad dressings, butter, gravies, and sweets.


While it is important to eat a varied diet during pregnancy, there are several foods that should be avoided as they pose serious health risks. These include:
  • Raw fish, shellfish, or meat including sushi
  • Unpasteurized juice, milk, or cheese
  • Uncooked eggs
  • Luncheon or deli meats
  • Fish with high levels of mercury including mackerel, swordfish, tile fish, and shark
  • Smoked seafood
  • Alcohol