Your nutrition before, during and after pregnancy is an important part of insuring a healthy baby as well as maintaining your health.
Pregnancy offers a unique opportunity to focus attention to your dietary habits and make healthy choices. An increase of approximately 300 kcal/day is recommended during pregnancy. Because of the increase in blood volume, increased iron consumption either through dietary sources or supplements of approximately 15 mg/day is required.
Most prenatal vitamins will cover this need. Approximately 1200mg of calcium per day is recommended for pregnant or lactating women. Prenatal vitamins typically only have approximately 200 mg, so 3-4 servings of dairy products per day are needed, or you may choose to use additional calcium supplements. Folate (folic acid) supplementation has been shown to decrease spinal defects and other birth defects in newborns. It is recommended that folate be started prior to conception for maximum benefit, but should be continued throughout pregnancy. Mega dose vitamins are to be avoided as some vitamins and minerals can be toxic in large doses (e.g. iron, selenium, vitamins A&D). Again, please do not take any over the counter vitamin supplements or herbal products unless you have discussed them with your doctor.
A prudent diet, whether pregnant or not, should include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and other foods high in fiber and should avoid saturated fats and trans fatty acids, but this becomes especially important while pregnant. Caffeine consumption should be minimized and you should avoid undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products.
Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet but due to mercury contamination precautions should be taken to avoid fish that may contain high levels of mercury. Read further for more information.
The following graph can help you determine your body mass index (BMI).
Weight gain during pregnancy should be dependent upon your BMI.
<19 wt gain of 27 to 40 lbs
19 to 25 wt gain of 25 to 35 lbs
26 to 29 wt gain of 15 to 25 lbs
>29 wt gain of 10 to 15 lbs
Limiting your weight gain during pregnancy will allow a return to a normal healthy weight after pregnancy. Consult your doctor on ways to meet your target weight gain.