Pregnancy Information Diet

Coffee is my weakness. The strong, roasted smell of the bean is enough to make me long for that first cup. The day I turned my head away from a cup of coffee I knew I was pregnant. Everyone in my family has been that way. Coffee seems to be our first food aversion. It’s as if my body set up its own defense against the consumption of caffeine.

Many doctors warn against drinking too much caffeine during pregnancy. One study suggests a connection between large amounts of caffeine consumption (over four cups of coffee a day) with stillborn births. Alcohol consumption should be avoided completely. Drinking alcohol while pregnant is linked to miscarriages, low-birth weight, stillbirths and a more serious condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome.

Healthy Pregnancy Diet

The health of your baby depends a great deal on the foods you eat. Diet and nutrition is one of the areas of pregnancy where most women have many questions. If you already have a healthy diet of nuts and grains, fruits and vegetables and plenty of proteins you’ll be more likely to provide for your baby’s nutritional needs.

If you tend to eat a lot of foods with too much salt or sugar, pregnancy is good time to change those poor diet habits. Healthy eating is the key to the healthy development of the fetus and reduces the problems associated with pregnancy.

Dietary Requirements for Pregnant Mothers

If you’ve wanted to drop a few pounds, do that before you become pregnant. Some women have such strong aversions to foods that they lose weight in their first trimester. Others suffer from morning sickness.

Once you become pregnant, your body will require more calories, vitamins and minerals. Essentially, you’ll need to eat enough to meet the demands of your growing baby. Most women require a daily intake of 2000 to 2500 calories. This requirement rises to 2300 to 2800 calories a day when you’re pregnant.

The Importance of Proteins

Some of today’s trendier diets promote the importance of protein. In a balanced diet, protein plays a significant role. Proteins are digested by the body and broken down into amino acids. The body then uses these amino acids to build up new proteins that are required for normal functioning.

For the average adult, 60 milligrams of protein a day is recommended. For the pregnant mother who is also providing protein for her developing fetus, protein intake should be increased to 70 to 75 milligrams per day. This extra protein is essential for the developing fetus.

Folic Acid

Research shows that increasing the intake of certain vitamins during pregnancy reduces the risks of defects in the fetus. Doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins once the pregnancy is confirmed. In fact, many women take prenatal vitamins as soon as they begin to plan their families.

Studies show that taking up to 400 micrograms of supplemental folic acid reduces the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. Folic acid is a mineral found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, peas, orange juice and some grains. Cereal manufacturers have also begun to add folate to cereal grains. Doctors suggest that women begin taking folic acid before they get pregnant.

Calcium

Calcium is very important in our everyday diet. Calcium keeps our bones healthy and strong. A diet low in calcium can lead to osteoporosis or brittle bones later in life.

The developing fetus requires a large amount of calcium for its own bone development. Its calcium comes directly from the mother. If the mother doesn’t have enough calcium in her diet the fetus will absorb it directly from the mother’s bones and teeth. Therefore, a mother’s daily calcium requirement almost doubles (from 800 milligrams a day to 1500 milligrams a day) when she’s pregnant.

Keeping Blood Iron Rich

Iron is very important. Pregnant women should receive at least 30 milligrams a day of iron. Routine blood tests throughout the pregnancy will determine whether iron is lacking. A condition called anemia occurs when iron is low in the blood. If the pregnant mother is anemic the doctor will recommend an iron supplement. Prenatal vitamins contain varying levels of iron.

High-Risk Foods and Food Questions

Some foods carry a risk for pregnant mothers. Swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish are considered dangerous because they can contain high levels of mercury that may be transferred to the fetus. Pregnant women should also limit their intake of canned tuna to less than twelve ounces a week. Avoid raw fish and seafood, especially oysters and clams.

Undercooked meat or eggs can be a source of salmonella or food poisoning. Eating cake or cookie batter prepared with raw eggs is also a risk. Other foods to avoid are soft cheeses like Brie, feta, Camembert and Roquefort.

Non-pasteurized products can also be a source of food poisoning. Make sure all dairy products are pasteurized for the safety of the growing fetus. If questions arise about the safety of any food, forego that food while you’re pregnant or ask your doctor about it. Remember that the fetus growing inside you is nourished by the foods you eat.

Resources

Beers, M. H.