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Nutrition During Pregnancy

Expectant mothers typically have an epiphany regarding the importance of nutrition when they learn they are pregnant. Most expectant moms want to make the right nutrition choices for the health of their developing baby – and rightly so. The proper nutrition during pregnancy is vital to the overall health of you and your developing baby.

Ideally, you will have already established a healthy diet before conception. However, if your diet was slightly less than healthy, pregnancy is the perfect time to get it back on track. The basic thing to remember is to eat a variety of foods from the five basic food groups in the right quantities. To achieve proper nutrition during pregnancy, you will want to increase your caloric intake slightly. Aim for consuming about 10% more than your ideal caloric intake before becoming pregnant. If you're not sure, ask your obstetrician.

During pregnancy, you should avoid alcohol (and tobacco) all together. You should also decrease your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant and it does cross the placenta, so try limiting yourself to one cup of coffee, tea or pop per day. Other foods to avoid include large amounts of ocean fish that may contain mercury such as tuna, shark or mackerel and foods that are high in unsaturated fats. You should also be extra cautious of food safety and avoid eating undercooked meat or poultry, foods containing raw egg, and unpasteurized milk and juice products.

To help you maintain proper nutrition during pregnancy, your obstetrician will likely prescribe a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins have the proper amounts of folic acid, calcium, iron, and other nutrients that are essential to a healthy pregnancy. Some women have difficulty taking these vitamins, but you should discuss any trouble with your doctor rather than cease taking them all together. Your doctor may suggest a different brand or an alternative to help you get the vitamins and minerals you need.

Keep in mind that weight gain is expected and natural during pregnancy. Though increasing your caloric intake may be necessary, you don't have to stop all physical activity. You can still exercise during pregnancy and your doctor will probably recommend it. You will have to use caution and follow your doctor's guidelines, but even with proper activity and nutrition during pregnancy, you can expect to gain around 30 pounds. Don't worry about the weight gain because it can easily be lost after you deliver. Keep in mind that breastfeeding will also require the same attention as nutrition during pregnancy, making weight management even easier should you choose to breastfeed.

The most important thing to remember about proper nutrition during pregnancy is that much of what you eat and drink crosses the placenta and is received by your baby. Don't eat anything you wouldn't want your baby to have and make sure you follow your doctor's guidelines for healthy eating. This will ensure that you will stay healthy and that your baby will develop properly and arrive happy and healthy too.

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