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Nutrition Duo!—You and Your Baby

0 Comments 🕔21.Mar 2017

Nutrition Duo!—You and Your Baby

So you’re expecting or thinking about the future prospect—congratulations! This is a very exciting time in your life! Proper nutrition is very important both before you become pregnant as well as during your pregnancy. This article will address some of the key aspects to be aware of so put your feet up and enjoy!

Much research has addressed the relationship between a pregnant woman’s eating habits and the health of her child. It is very important to obtain adequate folic acid prior to conception as well as throughout your pregnancy. Inadequate intakes can increase in risk of neural tube defects and possibly palate and lip deformities. It is recommended that women who may become pregnant consume 400 micrograms of folic acid from fortified foods, vitamin/mineral supplements, or from both. This is in addition to the naturally occurring folate found in foods. Once a woman becomes pregnant, her folic acid intake recommendation increases to 600 micrograms per day and to 500 micrograms per day if she decides to breast-feed. Always discuss your individual nutrition needs with your physician and registered dietitian. Good sources of naturally occurring folate include orange juice, peanuts, dried beans, lentils, and spinach. Grain products that are enriched must be fortified with folic acid (which is the form of folate found in supplements and fortified food products).

Stop that!
Now is a good time to stop any habits that could harm your baby, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. These are good things to avoid even if you are in the planning stages since you never know when you might become pregnant.

How much weight should you gain?
This is a common question that crosses every pregnant woman’s mind at some point. The answer depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. If you were of a healthy weight prior to pregnancy (body mass index 18.5-24.9) then the recommended amount of weight gain is 25-35 pounds. If you were underweight prior to conception, your goal may be a weight gain of 28-40 pounds, and if you were overweight, you may be advised to gain 15-25 pounds. This can vary from individual to individual and is based on several factors so do discuss this with your physician.

The schedule of weight gain can vary as well. Some women gain 2-4 pounds the first trimester or may not gain any weight at all. After the first 3 months, most women gain between 3/4-1 pound per week; some weeks may be more and some may be less. There is a new life growing inside of you so be excited about your changing body and try to enjoy every step of the way!

Do I need to consume a lot more food?
Pregnancy actually calls for a daily caloric increase of 300 calories and 10 grams of extra protein per day. Where your calories come from is just as important as how much you consume. Choose plenty of fruits and vegetables; lean meats and dairy products; other protein sources such as peanut butter, nuts, and legumes; healthy fats; and whole grains. Some studies suggest a link between chocolate intake and happier babies—who knows? Just enjoy the sweets in moderation and don’t overdo it!

What if I feel sick?
You may find yourself not wanting to eat much those first few months. Not every expectant mother experiences morning sickness, but it can be common. Try not to eat too much at one time, and listen to your body. Eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day is a great way to keep you and your baby well nourished throughout the day without overdoing it and feeling nauseous. If you do find yourself feeling sick, (and this can occur either before or after eating—trust me!) try some crackers or ginger. Ginger has a soothing effect and works very well for many women. Also, try eating slowly and keep foods around that sound appetizing to you. If you do find yourself vomiting several times per day, consult your physician.

What about fluid?
Staying hydrated is very important during pregnancy. Aim for a goal of 8-12 cups of fluid per day. If plain water doesn’t sound good, add a bit of 100% fruit juice or a bit of lemonade to an almost full glass of water. This can be a tasty way to get that water down! Milk counts as fluid too and you need 4 servings of dairy each day. Calcium is an mineral that plays important roles before, during, and after pregnancy. If you have questions about caffeine, check with your physician as opinions may vary. In general, 1-2 servings of coffee, tea, or caffeinated beverages are thought to be okay. If you feel nauseated or experience reflux or heartburn, try cutting back on your caffeine intake.

Other important factors to consider:

Stay active—as recommended by your physician. Regular exercise is great during pregnancy, especially walking. Your physician can provide specific guidelines if exercise is new to you or if you have questions. Many women experience back pain which can get progressively worse the farther along your pregnancy progresses. If this is a problem for you, let your physician know so you can try to alleviate some of the pain/pressure. Read Working Out While Expecting to find out more on staying fit during pregnancy.
Cook food to proper temperatures! Don’t consume raw or undercooked meat/meat products. Steer clear of unpasteurized items, especially soft cheeses, as they may contain listeriosis.
In a similar vein, be aware that several kinds of fish may be contaminated with mercury.Women who are pregnant or nursing are urged to avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, fresh tuna, sea bass, halibut, marlin, pike, and white croaker if they are pregnant. Canned tuna should be eaten no more than once a month, and , other types of fish should be limited to no more than 12 ounces per week. Farm-raised trout and catfish, shrimp, fish sticks, flounder, wild pacific salmon, croaker, mid-Atlantic blue crab, and haddock are considered safest.
Wear appropriate masks and gloves when cleaning or using harsh chemicals. If you are painting the baby’s room, obtain appropriate safety masks and ask questions about the products you may be using. Have someone else clean out the litter box if you have cats to decrease the risk of toxoplasmosis. If you are the only member in your household, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done.
Stay off of your feet for long periods of time. If you find yourself sitting or standing for extended amounts of time, take a break and change positions.
There is a large amount of information out there on pregnancy. Ask questions, do your research, don’t forget to have fun, and enjoy this great, exciting time in your life!

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