Your Health During Pregnancy
For once in your life, the words healthy diet make no reference to deprivation. It’s your job as a mother to indulge yourself, but to indulge wisely! Most pregnant women find that they need about an extra three hundred calories a day to maintain their energy and gain the 25 to 35 pounds doctors recommend. If the idea of an extra 25 to 35 pounds depresses you, keep in mind that you will lose 12 to 14 of these pounds within a week of your baby’s birth. But your focus now needs to be on bulking up, not slimming down. Here are daily eating goals for pregnancy that your doctor can customize for you:
- Breads, cereals, pasta, and other whole grains: six to eleven servings
- Milk and fun dairy products like ice cream: four to six servings
- Vegetables: three to five servings
- Proteins like lean meats, eggs, and beans: three to four servings (protein is responsible for the growth of body tissues, including all of your baby’s, the amniotic fluid and placenta, and the increase in your blood volume.
- Fruits: two to four servings
Even if you fulfill each of these goals daily, there are three nutrients you will probably not get enough of without supplements. The first of these is folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin responsible for cell division and the development of healthy tissues. It’s credited with reducing birth defects of the brain and spine. Calcium is the second, and it’s needed to prevent you from losing your bone density as your baby claims a lot of your calcium for bone growth. The third is iron, which helps your blood carry enough oxygen for two.
The National Academy of Sciences recommends a supplement containing thirty milligrams of iron, but you will need to be careful that you don’t take too much iron, as that also can harm your baby. Taking all of these supplements is a great occasion for drinking more water. You need 64 ounces of fluids a day. That’s a lot of liquid to push into an already shrinking bladder.
Living through an hour without running to the bathroom and a few other pleasures, you will have to do without until after pregnancy. You should consume no more than one cup of coffee or caffeinated soda a day and if you can skip that one, do so. You should avoid drinking alcohol entirely because higher rates of miscarriage, mental retardation, and low birth weights have all been blamed on alcohol consumption. Skip the artificial sweeteners too, just to stay on the safe side.
You should also plan to avoid all potentially contaminated foods. Contamination can occur naturally or come from pollution. Avoid lead contamination by storing acidic foods in glass or plastic instead of crystal or ceramic. Test the lead content of your tap water if you live in an older home. Large fish can be contaminated with mercury, so avoid swordfish and shark and eat no more than one half pound of tuna a week.
Fresh fish can be contaminated with pesticides and PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, so avoid wild freshwater carp, catfish, lake trout, whitefish, bluefish, mackerel, and striped bass, and make sure to stick to low fat fish and trim the fat, since PCBs accumulate in fat. You can avoid bacterial contamination by skipping soft cheeses and skipping anything uncooked and unboiled while in a foreign country. Do not eat anything that includes unpasteurized milk, raw eggs, raw or undercooked fish, poultry, or meat, tempting as they may sound.
Eating well is one easy and enjoyable thing you can do to nourish your baby, yourself, and your peace of mind.