Eating a variety of foods may be the last thing you want to do as you clutch both a box of saltines and a bucket early in pregnancy. But once you're feeling more yourself, the pendulum swings the other way. Many pregnant women feel wolfish hunger to make up for lost time. For your health and baby's, here's how you should eat during pregnancy.
Above all, take your prenatal vitamin supplements. They can help fill in any gaps in your diet. (I'm looking at you, wacky cravings and weird avoidances.) If you find yourself noshing on less-than-nutritious foods, the supplements can help you and baby get what you need. Plus, pre-natal vitamins provide folic acid, vital to baby's health. In fact, many health authorities think that every woman of childbearing age who could possibly get pregnant should take folic acid supplements because many birth defects caused by folic acid deficiency occur before a woman is even aware she's pregnant. It's that important.
Stay within the calorie guidelines recommended by your health care provider. If you're naturally slim, she may want you to eat more calories than if your pre-pregnancy weight is higher than what's healthy.
Overall, eat a balanced diet with plenty of whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lean sources of protein and dairy. This is not the time to diet or skimp on nutrition.
Don't rely upon processed foods. Dietitians agree that less processing means more nutrition.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good as fresh. Sometimes, frozen is better if your grocery store's produce was picked green and shipped to the store days or weeks later. Frozen produce is usually picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen. But if your produce is local, go with fresh.
Focus on dark leafy green vegetables, berries, and other produce in a variety of colors. Thoroughly wash any fresh produce.
You don't have to completely nix caffeine. Most OB-GYNs allow their patients one daily serving. But don't go overboard since caffeine can affect your baby. The acidity of coffee and colas can also worsen heartburn.
Don't drink alcohol or use illicit drugs. They pass through the to your baby. Ask your provider before taking any over-the-counter supplements, medicine or prescription medication except for prenatal vitamins. Take only what your OB-GYN recommends at the right dose. More isn't always better.
Avoid any undercooked or uncooked meat, poultry or seafood. Many practitioners tell patients to avoid cold lunchmeat, raw hot dogs, soft cheese, raw (non-pasteurized) milk, and soft-cooked eggs or raw eggs (such as in cookie dough). These foods may pose a serious health risk for the baby, including miscarriage and death.