1. Make every bite count
It takes about 55,000 extra calories to make a baby healthy. This may seem a lot, but it’s only 300 extra calories a day (the equivalent of a glass of low-fat milk, a slice of bread and an apple), and it’s only in the last two quarters. In the first trimester, calorie needs don’t budge an inch when your baby grows no longer than a green bean.However, your vitamin and mineral needs have gone up. Folic acid which is Vitamin B for example, helps prevent birth defects, is more important than ever.That means: 1) focus on “real “foods— colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and non-fat milk; 2) little space for extra chocolate cake; and 3) take a moderate-dose multivitamin AND mineral that contains at least 400 mcg folic acid to cover your bases when you are not eating perfectly.
2. Consume ample foods rich in calcium
Calcium helps to build bones in the baby and prevent bone loss in the mother, as most people know. Calcium also prevents high blood pressure caused by pregnancy and is important for the normal functioning of the nerves and muscles.
The pregnant mother needs 3 or more glasses of low-fat or non-fat milk or fortified soy milk every day before, during and after her pregnancy if she is planning to take care of her child. You can cook your rice or oatmeal in milk to add more calcium to your diet instead of water. Search also for non-conventional calcium sources, such as calcium-fortified foods. At least 1,000 mg per day.
3. Get enough fluid
Getting enough nutritional fluids, such as water, is important during pregnancy to prevent constipation and increase the blood volume that carries both mother and baby oxygen and nutrients. So, bring a bottle of water, take 8 swigs of water every time you see a fountain of water (1 swig= 1 ounce) and drink a glass of water between each meal and snack. Drink nutritious drinks, such as V8 sodium reduction, orange juice or non-fat milk to get your fluids.
4. Focus on iron-rich foods
Protein-rich foods are important sources of iron, such as extra-lean meat, chicken without skin, fish or cooked dried beans and fish. This mineral is one of the most difficult nutrients to get enough during pregnancy, but it is critical to maintain the baby’s normal oxygen supply, normal development and growth and to prevent premature delivery. Make sure you include several iron-rich foods in your daily diet, cook in cast iron pots and take a multivitamin with iron.
1. Give up on seafood
This is currently one of the hottest nutritional issues for pregnant women. Here’s the good thing: fats in fish, called omega-3 fats, are essential for the development of the baby’s brain and vision. Babies whose mothers have consumed ample omega-3s, especially DHA (97 percent of the omega-3s in the brain are DHA), are higher in IQ tests later in life, whereas low intake is associated with developmental delays. Omega-3s may also help to prevent premature births and allergies and asthma later in life.
But the bad thing is that all fish contain mercury, a toxic metal that can cause serious damage to the nervous system. Hundreds of studies have shown that the higher the levels of mercury, the more fish you eat. As a consequence, pregnant women were told not to consume more than 12 ounces per week and to avoid the worst offenders— shark, swordfish, mackerel and tilefish. But many women have taken this recommendation so seriously that they completely avoid fish, which explains why 75% of the population does not consume DHA on a given day.
This “Don’t” includes a very important “Do.” You absolutely do need the omega-3s, especially DHA. Fish get their DHA by eating DHA-rich algae. If you are concerned about contaminants like pesticides and mercury in fish, can’t afford or don’t like fish, you can get that same DHA in foods that are fortified with algal-based DHA. Or, take a DHA supplement. Aim for about 300mg a day. Be careful, some foods are fortified with omega 3s, but it is the wrong one. The omega-3 ALA in walnuts, flax and soy is good for your heart, but won’t give your baby the “brain” boost that you get only from DHA.
2. Drink alcohol, coffee, colas, teas or eat soft cheeses
The information on alcohol is cut in stone: alcohol causes birth defects that are irreversible. No safe limit has been set.
The use of coffee and other coffeinated drinks is not so clear. Recent studies have shown no effect on birth weight or birth defects from caffeine. In the past, however, studies have found a possible link between consumption of caffeine and miscarriage, low birth weight and growth delay.
Also, feta, Brie, Camembert, or Mexican-style cheeses such as Queso Blanco Fresco are prime candidates for bacterial contamination (listeriosis), which causes fever, miscarriage and other complications during pregnancy, so avoid these during pregnancy.
Soft, unpasteurized cheeses like feta, Brie, Camembert, and goat — as well as ready-to-eat meats like hot dogs and deli meats — may contain listeria, bacteria that cause mild flu-like symptoms in most adults but can be very dangerous for unborn babies. Listeriosis, the infection caused by the bacteria, can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or severe illness or death of a newborn. Feta is safe if it is made with pasteurized milk, which should be clearly identified on the label.
3. Follow fad diets, like a low-carb diet
This is not the time for unbalanced diets. In order to build a healthy baby today and in the future, you need more than 40 nutrients. The developing baby is much more sensitive to the nutritional status of the mother than previously thought, and some health effects do not appear in life until much later. So skip low-carbon or food-combining diets and stick to healthy, tried-and-true eating.
4. Gain too much weight
Excess body weight entering pregnancy or accumulated during pregnancy can affect whether a woman conceives and also might increase the risks for pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, stillbirth, very-preterm birth and cesarean delivery. Many women are entering pregnancy overweight, gaining too much during pregnancy, and then not losing the weight after the baby is born — a pattern that contributes to this country’s #1 health problem — obesity.
Optimal weight gain is an individual matter. In general, a normal-weight woman should gain about 25 and no more than 35 pounds during her pregnancy. Women who are overweight entering pregnancy (i.e., more than 25% of body weight is fat tissue) should gain no more than 15 to 25 pounds during their pregnancies, while underweight women should gain approximately 28 to 40 pounds depending on their height and degree of leanness prior to pregnancy.
It is also important not only the total weight gain, but the weight gain pattern— with a slow gain of about 2 to 5 pounds in the first quarter (more if you are thin, very active or tall and less if you are overweight, sedentary or short), followed by a steady increase to about three quarters to one pound per week in the last two quarters. Please discuss sudden weight changes with your OBGYN. -TODAY.com