Nutrition During Pregnancy

woman eating while pregnant

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Healthy eating is important for a healthy pregnancy. Healthy eating will also help you feel better, give you more energy and help you gain a healthy amount of weight. Healthy eating will lower your chance of having health problems during pregnancy such as low iron or high blood pressure and will help you gain a healthy amount of weight.

During pregnancy you should eat twice as healthy, not twice as much. Aim to eat three balanced meals a day with nutritious snacks in between. During the second and third trimester and while you are breastfeeding you can add an extra two to three Food Guide Servings a day. Check out tips and tools for healthy eating during pregnancy.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

A healthy weight gain during pregnancy can help give your baby a healthy start. The amount of weight you should gain depends on how much you weighed before you got pregnant. Use the Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator to determine the right amount of weight for you to gain. Check out tips for a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.

Folate

Folate is an important vitamin that helps build healthy blood and tissues for you and your baby. Extra folic acid is needed to reduce the risks of neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs are birth defects that affect the baby's brain and spine. In addition to the folic acid you get from your prenatal multivitamin it is important to eat folate-rich foods.

Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that you need for good health throughout life. During pregnancy you may need to eat more iron in your diet. It is important to take a multivitamin that contains iron. Eating iron-rich foods is also important so that your baby will have a good supply of iron at birth.

Foods to Limit or Avoid

  • Fish is a great source of omega-3 fats that are important for your baby's brain, nerves and eyes. Eat fish twice a week. However, limit fish that are high in mercury
  • Limit your daily intake of caffeine to no more than 300 mg per day when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, soda pop, energy drinks and chocolate
  • Avoid these foods that may become contaminated with bacteria:
    • Raw fish, especially shellfish such as oysters and clams
    • Undercooked meat, poultry, seafood and hot dogs
    • All foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs such as salad dressings
    • Unpasteurized milk products
    • Unpasteurized juices, such as unpasteurized apple cider
    • Raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts
  • Artificial sweeteners are safe in small amounts during pregnancy. It is important that foods and drinks made with these do not replace healthier options

For More Information

Download a copy of Healthy Eating for a Healthy Baby for more healthy eating information and recipes. 

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