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June 2010 | 0 Comments | Print

Healthy eating during pregnancy

With Tepu Juula-Potticary, childbirth educator, The Christ Hospital

If you’re expecting it’s important that you pay careful attention to the food you eat. Good nutrition is linked to healthy babies, more energy, a better pattern of weight gain and more rapid healing after you give birth.

At The Christ Hospital we like to provide our expectant mothers with helpful information about their diet and weight that will be useful to them during this very special time in their child’s development.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Most women should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during their pregnancy. If you are underweight, you may need to gain more. If you are overweight, you may need to gain less. The weight typically goes to:

  • Breasts:  1 – 2 pounds
  • Blood volume:  4 – 5 pounds
  • Body fluid:  1- 2 pounds
  • Fat:  5 – 7 pounds
  • Baby:  7 – 8 pounds
  • Placenta:  2 – 3 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid:  2 – 3 pounds
  • Uterus:  2 – 5 pounds

Gradual weight loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week during the first six months after delivery is normal.

Vitamins and Minerals

During your pregnancy you will need to follow a diet rich in certain vitamins and minerals. Here are some foods you may want to try to enrich your diet:

Vitamin C:  For healthy blood and skin

  • Oranges
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cantaloupe

Iron:  For healthy blood

  • Lean meats, fish and poultry
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Molasses
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Whole grain breads fortified with iron

Vitamin A:  For bone growth, healthy skin and eyes

  • Apricots
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Greens
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Winter squash

Folate:  For healthy blood and to prevent birth defects

  • Cantaloupe
  • Broccoli
  • Dried beans
  • Greens
  • Liver
  • Orange juice

Important Vitamins and Minerals

Calcium:  For strong bones and teeth

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Low-fat ice cream
  • Dry breakfast cereals (fortified with calcium) with milk
  • Orange juice (fortified with calcium)
  • Broccoli or greens

Nausea is often a problem during the early months of pregnancy. Below are some tips to help you decrease nausea. (Be sure to consult your health care provider if you experience severe nausea and are unable to eat or hold down fluids.)

  • Avoid large meals. Eat several small meals five or six times a day.
  • Eat crackers or dry cereal before getting out of bed in the morning
  • Drink fluids between meals, rather than with them
  • Avoid spicy or fatty foods if you feel ill after eating them
  • Eat an evening snack that has protein in it
  • Avoid smells of cooking food.

Heartburn is a frequent complaint during the last three months of pregnancy. At this time the baby is growing rapidly and tends to push on the surrounding digestive organs. To help reduce heartburn:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Drink fluids between meals
  • Limit spicy and fatty foods
  • Eat slowly
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Remain in a sitting position for at least half an hour after each meal
  • Consult your health care provider about the use of antacids.
Fluid Consumption

You will need to drink eight or more cups of fluid every day. Beverages such as milk, fruit and vegetable juices and soups provide valuable nutrients and may help you meet your fluid needs. Also, drink plenty of water. If you drink soft drinks, do not let them replace nutritious beverages.

Food Safety

There are a number of foods that need to be avoided during pregnancy due to the risk of food-borne illness. Avoid any raw meats or raw fish such as sushi; soft cheeses like feta, Brie and blue cheese; and mercury fish such as shark, swordfish and king mackerel. Herbal supplements should be cleared with your doctor.

A pregnancy resource

For additional information about healthy eating during pregnancy contact The Christ Hospital at 877-904-4YOU or visit

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