Good nutrition during pregnancy, and enough of it, is vitally important if your baby is going to grow and develop. Experience say you will probably find you are hungrier than usual but there is no need to “eat for two” – even if you are having twins or triplets.
Although nausea and vomiting during the first few months of pregnancy can make this difficult, try to eat a balanced diet. Its best to get vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, but when you are pregnant, recommended is to take certain prenatal vitamins.
- 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day throughout your pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding
- 400 micrograms of folic acid each day
- ideally you should take this from before you are pregnant until you are 12 weeks pregnant
Do not to take vitamin A supplements, or any supplements containing vitamin A, as too much could harm your baby.
Healthy eating when pregnant
- Eat a variety of foods to get more of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals, you and your growing baby need.
- Starchy foods like breads, potatoes and grains should be the main part of every meal. Starchy food can contain vitamins and fiber, and help satisfying your appetite.
- Eat at least five portions of fruit, and vegetables a day. These contain vitamins and minerals, plus fiber to help prevent constipationand help with digestion.
- Eat some protein every day, such as meat (avoid liver during pregnancy), fish, chicken, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts.
- Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt help provide calcium and other nutrients.
- Avoid too many sugary snacks or those high in sugar.
What to eat when you are pregnant and don’t feel well
During pregnancy you may have morning sickness, diarrhea or constipation. You may find it hard to keep foods down, or you may feel too sick to eat at all. Here are some suggestions:
- Morning sickness: Eat crackers or cereal before getting out of bed. Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day and avoid fatty, fried and greasy foods.
- Constipation: Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Also drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
- Diarrhea: Eat more foods containing pectin and gums (two types of dietary fiber) to help absorb excess water. Examples include bananas, white rice and refined wheat bread.
- Heartburn: Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Try drinking milk before eating and limit your intake of caffeinated foods and drinks.
Can I diet while pregnant?
No. Do not diet or try to lose weight during pregnancy. Both you and your baby need the proper nutrients to stay healthy. Bear in mind that you will lose some weight in the first week after your baby is born.
What about special diets?
Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you have to change your vegetarian diet. Your baby can get all the nutrition he or she needs to grow and develop, as long as you eat a wide variety of healthy foods that provide enough protein and calories for you and your baby.
However, you may need to adjust your eating habits to make sure you and your baby are getting adequate nutrition.
For people with food allergies and those who are lactose intolerant, seek medical advice from your GP. Some other supplements may be recommended in some cases. For example, for a woman with the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, a GP or midwife may recommend iron supplements.
Food cravings during pregnancy
Food cravings during pregnancy are normal. Although there is no widely accepted explanation for these cravings, almost two-thirds of all pregnant women have them. If you develop a sudden urge for a certain food, go ahead and indulge your craving if it provides energy or an essential nutrient. But if your craving persists and prevents you from getting other essential nutrients, try to achieve more of a balance in your daily diet.
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