Eating right and focusing on good nutrition during pregnancy is a top priority, says OMC Registered Dietitian Andrea Petersen. Good nutrition habits will help ensure a healthy baby and mom. And hopefully, these traits will continue with us even after the baby is born.
Suggested guidelines for good nutrition during pregnancy
Eat a variety of foods (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein).
Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid every day.
Eat foods containing iron (meat, poultry, seafood, iron-fortified cereals, dried beans, spinach, apricots, prunes, raisins).
Eat foods rich in vitamin C (oranges, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes) at the same time as foods with iron to increase their absorption into your body.
Get plenty of calcium (milk, yogurt, low-fat cheeses, calcium-fortified orange juice or a calcium supplement).
Take iron and calcium supplements at different times of day to ensure their absorption.
Drink lots of water.
And if you don’t like some foods, “that’s okay. You just need to find alternatives” Petersen says. “There are many vegetables out there, and plenty of other protein sources other than meat, such as dried beans, tofu, peanut butter and eggs. The prenatal vitamin that you take will help make up for some of the nutrients you may miss if you are a ‘picky’ eater,” she says, “but it will not make up for the calories and protein that you may be missing.”
Foods to avoid
Seafood with high mercury levels, such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, and King mackerel should be avoided. Choices that are lower in mercury includes salmon, flounder, tilapia, trout, pollock, and catfish, according to the USDA. Click here to learn about making wise food choices while pregnant.
Don't eat seafood that may contain harmful bacteria, viruses or pollutants, such as raw fish, shellfish (especially oysters and clams), smoked seafood and any fish caught in polluted water.
Don't eat undercooked meat, such as hamburger (hot dogs and deli meats should only be consumed if cooked until they are steaming hot).
Avoid unpasteurized milk or cheese.
Limit yourself to no more than 300mg/day of caffeine (about two cups of coffee).
Avoid herbal tea since there is not enough research on the effects of herbs to developing babies.
Don't consume alcohol.
In addition to good nutrition, you should get enough rest, minimize stress and exercise, Petersen says. “Discuss your nutrition and exercise plans with your healthcare provider,” she adds.