During pregnancy, more nutrients and calories are required from your diet for you and your growing baby. Aim to have a healthy and balanced diet. Pregnant women require 300 extra calories from healthy and nutritious sources. Avoid eating high-fat and high-sugar foods, which have no nutritional value and can lead to excess weight gain. This also will help reduce any heartburn and indigestion you might be experiencing.
More iron is needed for the production of red blood cells required by you and your fetus. Pregnant women require 27 mg of iron per day. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, beef, poultry and fish are the richest sources, as the iron in these foods is easily absorbed by your body. These foods also are a good source of protein, which is needed for the growth and development of your baby. However, avoid consuming shark, tilefish, king mackerel and swordfish, which contain high levels of mercury and can harm your baby. Green vegetables, pulses and nuts also are good sources.
You need more folic acid during your pregnancy to prevent the baby from developing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The recommended daily allowance of folic acid during pregnancy is 600 micrograms. Breakfast cereals, spinach, cowpeas, asparagus, great northern beans, white rice and broccoli are excellent sources. For example, frozen spinach provides 100 micrograms and white rice provides 65 micrograms of folic acid per half-cup serving. Banana, papaya, bread, turnip greens and peanuts also are good sources.
You and your fetus need dietary calcium to help build strong teeth and bones, The recommended allowance of calcium during pregnancy is 1,000 mg per day. The best sources of calcium are dairy foods, such as yogurt, milk and cheese. Choose low-fat or fat-free products. However, it is important you consume only pasteurized versions to prevent the risk of food poisoning, which can harm your baby.
Alcohol must be completely avoided during pregnancy because it can lead to your baby developing fetal alcohol syndrome and learning difficulties. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says pregnant women should reduce their intake of caffeine to less than 200 mg per day. Drinking more than this can increase the risk of a miscarriage or the baby developing a low birth weight.