No matter where you are in your pregnancy, it’s never too late to
begin eating healthier. In fact, nutrition can be one of the sweetest
gifts you can give yourself and baby before and during pregnancy. Proper
nutrition are building blocks for a healthy pregnancy. And, we are here
to help. Every step of the way – whether we are prescribing your
prenatal supplements or helping you make better eating choices, you can
count on us.
Awareness that the food you eat provides your baby with a foundation for
growth and development is a big step in the direction of optimal health.
Healthy Brain & Spine Development
Folic acid is a key nutrient that should be included in your diet to help
prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine such as
anencephaly and spina bifida. Anencephaly is a serious birth defect that
causes the baby to be born without parts of the brain and skull. It is
estimated that more than 1200 pregnancies are affected by this condition
each year in the US. Spina bifida is another birth defect that happens
when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.
At CBHA, we suggest that you begin taking 400 mcg of folic acid supplement
at the start of your pregnancy to help prevent birth defects. Your first
trimester screen is the perfect starting point to ensure you are off to
a great start!
Foods that contain folic acid
- Leafy greens – spinach and broccoli
- Cereal – check for cereals with 100% of folic acid daily value
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Egg yolks
Growing Strong Bones & Teeth
Another important part of nutrition during pregnancy is calcium. Your body
can’t make calcium on its own, so it’s important to take a
supplement or ensure you are getting an adequate amount through your diet.
Calcium helps support the development of strong bones and teeth for your
baby, and calcium reduces your risk of developing osteopetrosis later
in life. We recommend that expectant mothers consume 1,000 mg of calcium
per day either by supplement or food.
Foods that contain calcium
- Cheese (check with your doctor for a list of which cheeses are best)
What to limit during pregnancy
During pregnancy, remember that what you eat, or drink is also consumed
by the baby.
- Caffeine. You don’t need to completely quit your morning routine,
but it is best to limit your caffeine intake to 200 mg—which is
equal to a 12 oz. cup of coffee or tea per day. Avoiding sugar filled
sodas as your source of caffeine is a great way to eliminate empty calories
- Refined Sugar & Fats. Reducing sweets and foods high in fat and sugar
helps you reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. Checking ingredient
labels will tell you where unnecessary sugars can be found.
- Foods high in fat or processed sugar. According to a study funded by the
National Institute of Health, a diet high in fat and sugar during pregnancy
may interact with a gene that controls early brain development in the
fetus. This interaction potentially increases the risk for attention deficit
hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in some children.
- Fish. Avoid fish with higher concentrations of mercury, which may include
fresh tuna, swordfish, and mackerel. Instead, focus on fish with low concentrations
of mercury – like tilapia, salmon, shrimp, canned tuna, cod, or
catfish. Limiting fish to 2-3 servings per week.
What to avoid
Some things are simply not good for you during pregnancy. These include:
- Alcohol. Avoid alcohol during pregnancy to reduce the risks of miscarriage,
still births, and life-long conditions.
- Cigarettes. Smoking during pregnancy can cause low birth weight and has
been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Raw meat. Avoid raw and undercooked meat as well, often contaminated with
bacteria like salmonella (sorry; no ceviche).
- Drugs. Talk with your doctor about drugs you may be taking when you are pregnant.
- Cat litter/waste. Parasites in cat waste can be harmful for your baby if
you become infected. Delegate the changing of the litter box until after
the baby is born and use gloves when you are pregnant and gardening.
And remember: you are not eating for two!
There is an adage that when you are pregnant, you are eating for two. But,
it’s important to know that although you are eating for you and
your baby, you are not eating for two. In fact, you only need to take
in an additional 300 calories per day to ensure you are consuming enough
food for you and your baby. These 300 additional calories should be nutrient
dense foods (veggies, fruits, legumes etc…) to help support your
growing little one. But remember, not all calories are equal. It’s
best to avoid empty calories during pregnancy such as soft drinks, sweets,
refined sugars, and carbs.
For additional information on pregnancy nutrition, please call us to make
an appointment with our onsite registered dietitian. We want to help support
your pregnancy and ensure it is happy and healthy!