Having a Healthy Pregnancy
Your diet is your baby’s diet so it is important for you to eat well. Your diet should be well balanced and include a variety of different foods. In general, the least processed foods are the most healthy (exceptions include raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, unpasteurized dairy products and juices, raw sprouts).
Most women consume 1800-2200 calories per day. When you become pregnant you will need about 300 more calories per day.
Vitamins and Minerals
A nutritious diet will go a long way towards supplying these important vitamins and minerals. Most doctors recommend a prenatal vitamin which helps supply extra amounts needed in pregnancy. Check with your doctor before taking any vitamin supplement during pregnancy.
Foods to Avoid
- Fish with high levels of mercury
- Raw or undercooked meats, poultry, eggs, seafood
- Hot dogs or deli meats
- Unpasteurized soft cheeses, milk, or juices
- Herbal supplements or teas
Prenatal care should begin early in pregnancy and be regular throughout. Your doctor, midwife, or nurse practitioner will keep monitoring your health and the health of your baby. It is not simply a question of being checked for problems but also of maintaining optimal health and pregnancy outcome.
Good prenatal care is linked to good pregnancy outcomes.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause mental and physical defects called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. No one knows how much alcohol will cause fetal alcohol syndrome so it is best not to drink at all while pregnant. However, do not panic if you have had a few alcoholic drinks before you realized you were pregnant. This is probably not enough to cause a problem. If you cannot stop drinking seek help. For referral to resources call us or contact the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) 1-800-622-2255 or ncadd.org.
If you have an alcohol habit or problem this is a good time to quit.
Contact The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) 1-800-622-2255 for help, resources, and referrals in your area.
Smoking during pregnancy has been shown to reduce oxygen to your baby, and may cause complications like low birth weight, preterm labor, and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If you are smoking, STOP. If you can’t stop get help to stop!
- The American Legacy Foundation (866) 667-8278
- The National Partnership to help Pregnant Smokers Quit (919) 843-7663
- Smokefree.gov (877) 448-7848) Smoking Quitline of National Cancer Institute
Drug Use & Medications
Illegal drugs, over the counter drugs, prescription drugs and even some herbal teas and medications harm your baby because they cross the placenta and enter your baby’s bloodstream. Check with your health care provider before taking any medications or remedies, for example, aspirin or Ginko Biloba or other vitamin supplements.
Before taking medication OR before stopping medication that you are currently taking for a serious health problem or condition, talk to your doctor.
HIV and other STDs
STDs affect women of every socioeconomic and educational level, age, race, ethnicity, and religion. The CDC 2002 Guidelines for Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases recommend that pregnant women be screened on their first prenatal visit for STDs which may include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Ask your doctor about getting tested for these STDs, since some doctors do not routinely perform them. New and increasingly accurate tests continue to become available. Even if you have been tested in the past, we recommend that you be tested again when you become pregnant.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Your Pregnancy & Birth, Fourth Edition, The American College of Obsbstretricians and Gynecologists. (2005)
“Eat Your Way to a Healthy Pregnancy”, Mama Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, AMA March of Dimes. (2005)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines 2002. MMWR 2002;51(no. RR-6).