Nutrition Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant and your doctor hasn’t prescribed prenatal vitamins by now, insist upon it. Not only is prenatal nutrition important for your health as you take on the task of forming your child’s body, but your baby’s health is at stake, too. Your nutrition during pregnancy is critical: Eat a balanced diet and take good prenatal vitamins; it’s more important than ever.

Nutrition During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is not an illness. If you eat healthy foods, you shouldn’t be worried that your nutrition during pregnancy should be much different. You certainly don’t need additional fat, sugar or salt. If you have gestational diabetes, you should immediately meet with a nutritionist to plan small meals and snacks to control your blood sugar levels.

Neither should you try to maintain your pre-pregnancy weight. Prenatal nutrition is not a synonym for “weight loss diet.” If your doctor isn’t satisfied with your weight gain, you may be depriving your growing baby of important nutrients. And remember, if you choose to breastfeed, you’ll still need additional healthy calories in your diet for milk production after the birth of your baby.

Even a well balanced diet can use a boost. Taking prenatal vitamins during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is one of the important actions you can take to ensure a good start to your infant’s life. Don’t forget to get plenty of dietary calcium.

Vitamin A, Calcium and Folic Acid Facts

Your physician and nutritionist should be knowledgeable about folic acid facts. Folic acid is another name for a vitamin commonly known as B9. Folic acid is good for you, but essential for your baby, so make sure your prenatal nutrition plan includes folic acid in addition to, or combined with, your prenatal vitamins. In fact, nutrition experts recommend enriching your diet with folic acid prior to pregnancy.

Foods rich in folic acid include cantaloupe, eggs, salmon, broccoli, asparagus, wheat germ, lentils and liver.

A folic acid deficiency is thought to increase the chance of miscarriage. Alternately, researchers have discovered that your chance of giving birth to a baby with neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida may be reduced by as much as fifty percent if you take folic acid. If the folic acid facts you need aren’t easy to find on the Internet, ask your doctor to provide you with information on its importance in nutrition during pregnancy.

The use of vitamin A during pregnancy should also be discussed with your physician. While this vitamin also prevents birth defects, some research indicates that excess amounts of vitamin A can be harmful. The beta-carotene form of vitamin A isn’t harmful, however, so enrich your diet with carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli and squash.

Herbal Supplements

In 1994, the FDA issued the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) that discusses, among other topics, the use of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements during pregnancy. The act was a result of all the contradictory information on the Internet indicating that certain supplements were particularly recommended for pregnant women, while other sites decried the use of the same substances as causing birth defects or miscarriage.

In truth, little evidence exists for either position, and non-prescription supplements are too numerous to verify as carefully as the FDA approval process for prescription drugs.

If you plan to take herbal supplements that have been known to relieve morning sickness or leg edema, check with your medical practitioner first. Some simple supplements might be very helpful as long as they don’t compromise your baby’s health. Don’t take chances; keep your medical team informed of any additional supplements you might be taking during pregnancy or breastfeeding.