Pregnancy is an important time for both you and baby, and a proper diet becomes more important than ever during that time. Clearly, a healthy diet during pregnancy goes a long way in paving the way for a healthy delivery. What you eat during pregnancy can have lasting effects on the health of your newborn. A proper antenatal diet should provide both you and your baby with good nutrition for the best of health, both during pregnancy and in the months and even years after birth. Consult your doctor for specific antenatal diet recommendations, and before beginning any new diet.
The antenatal diet, also called the prenatal diet, is vitally important for the health and welfare of your baby during development in the womb. Since your baby is fully dependent on you for sustenance, a proper diet should promote optimum health and nutrition in your body, to prepare you for delivery and for nursing after the baby is born. It should also provide your baby with the nutrients it needs, both in utero and when nursing.
On its website, the March of Dimes organization stresses how important it is for you during pregnancy to consume a balanced daily diet of foods from the five food groups: dairy, meat/protein, fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates and grains. The prenatal diet should include 6 ounces of grains, 2 1/2 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy products and 5 1/2 ounces of protein per day. Drinking ample water and juice will prevent dehydration, constipation and nausea.
Foods to Avoid
Women following the antenatal diet must avoid certain foods, the March of Dimes explains, listing raw fish, scrambled eggs, unpasteurized milk and juices, liver products and herbal teas among them. The United Kingdom's National Health Service adds that limiting consumption of shrimp, salmon, pollock, tuna and catfish will minimize the amount of mercury you get from seafood. The NHS also suggests limiting vitamin A -- commonly found in supplements and in liver products -- because it can harm the baby in utero.
The March of Dimes recommends that before pregnancy you get 400 micrograms of folic acid per day -- available in green, leafy vegetables, bread and cereals, or in supplement form -- to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Once pregnant you should up your intake to 600 micrograms. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
To assist you with heartburn relief, break up your daily food intake into four to six small meals per day rather than eating three large ones. Pregnant women should eat about 300 more calories per day than usual, though that figure is based on pre-pregnancy weight, according to the March of Dimes. Consult your doctor for a calorie figure specific to your weight and other conditions.