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Does Skipping Meals Affect Early Pregnancy?

author image Roxanne Maas
Based in Los Angeles, Roxanne Maas holds a master's degree in genetic counseling with more than 12 years of experience communicating complex genetics and pregnancy information. She has published several abstracts in scientific journals, presented posters at national genetics meetings, and published health-related articles on
Does Skipping Meals Affect Early Pregnancy?
A woman is eating with her child. Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Your developing baby gets all of the nutrients essential for her growth through the placenta and your bloodstream. Therefore, your diet is critical to the baby's proper growth. The baby's organs, which form during the first few months of pregnancy, require certain vitamins and minerals to develop correctly. Although skipping a meal now and then is unlikely to cause harm to you or your developing baby, you need a consistent intake of nutritious food to ensure the best pregnancy outcome possible.

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How Much To Eat

Because growing a baby takes a lot out of you, women beginning pregnancy at a normal weight need to eat an average of 300 extra calories per day. Women who are under- or overweight should speak with their doctor about their specific nutritional needs. Strive to eat balanced meals and snacks throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels relatively constant and energy at its peak. Eating regularly also helps stave off nausea, a common complaint in early pregnancy.

What to Eat

A diet that consists of a variety of vegetables, fruits, dairy foods, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats and oils, such as from nuts and avocados, helps ensure proper development of baby's organs and bones. Dark green vegetables and fortified cereals and juices are good sources of folic acid, a B vitamin important for reducing the chance of neural tube defects. Calcium is vital for the baby to grow strong bones and teeth while aiding your circulation and nervous system.

Improper Diet Risks

Your good and consistent diet is essential to the baby's normal development. Not gaining enough weight during pregnancy increases the chance for premature birth, which can lead to a host of medical complications and even death for the baby. Eating too much fat can cause obesity as well as high blood pressure, but not eating enough, particularly of unsaturated fats, can harm the baby's eye and brain development. A baby who receives insufficient vitamins and minerals from its mother faces increased risks for birth defects.

How to Avoid Meal Skipping

You need to make it a priority to not skip meals, and this can take a bit of planning. Schedule breaks in your day to make sure you have time to eat, and keep healthy grab-and-go options like dried fruit and nuts on hand. Prepare food the night before so an unexpected time crunch the next day doesn't keep you from eating. Set an alarm every couple of hours if you need to remind yourself to eat. Your baby will thank you later.

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