Dads Need Prenatal Nutrition, Too

Dads Need Prenatal Nutrition, Too

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A new study shows that prenatal health is not just mom’s responsibility

Pre-baby dietary concerns are no longer just for Moms.

It’s a well documented fact that the health of the mother has a direct effect on the health of the child she is carrying, but what about the father’s role?

A new study by a team of scientists at the University of Nottingham, England reveals that the father’s diet at the time of conception could impact the health of the offspring as well.

The team, led by Dr. Adam Watkins, found that when a mother mouse was fed on a low-protein diet, her offspring developed health issues such as hypertension, and exhibited altered behavior. When the father mouse was fed the same low-protein diet at the time of conception, the offspring showed hypotension and a precursor symptom of diabetes known as low glucose tolerance.

The findings suggest that concentrating on prenatal health might not be enough to ensure the health of the child. Mothers-to-be might want to call on their baby’s father to join them in eating right for the sake of the offspring.

Dr. Watkins and his team will present their findings at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction in Montreal, Québec.

Prepregnancy Diet: Best Foods to Eat When You're Trying to Get Pregnant

You don&rsquot have to wait until you&rsquore pregnant to start eating well. In fact, following a healthy diet before you conceive can help boost your fertility, lower the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida and even reduce your chances of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy.

Also good? Shoring up what you eat now makes for a smoother transition once baby is on board. Use this nutrition guide to plan out your meals.

Your Instructor

Allie is a mother of 3 little ladies who is certified in Nutrition and Lifestyle During Pregnancy, Child Nutrition and Cooking, who is also a Personal Fitness Trainer specializing in prenatal and postpartum fitness. She continually takes courses to further her knowledge to help you the best she can to navigate the ever changing recommendations in nutrition and fitness for pregnancy. She isn't a doctor, just a mommy of 3 with lots of experience in health, nutrition, and fitness that she is eager to share with you.

Nutrition During Pregnancy

Eating well is one of the best things you can do during pregnancy. Good nutrition helps you handle the extra demands on your body as your pregnancy progresses. The goal is to balance getting enough nutrients to support the growth of your fetus and maintaining a healthy weight.

The popular saying is that pregnant women &ldquoeat for two,&rdquo but now we know that it&rsquos dangerous to eat twice your usual amount of food during pregnancy. Instead of &ldquoeating for two,&rdquo think of it as eating twice as healthy.

If you are pregnant with one fetus, you need an extra 340 calories per day starting in the second trimester (and a bit more in the third trimester). That's roughly the calorie count of a glass of skim milk and half a sandwich. Women carrying twins should consume about 600 extra calories a day, and women carrying triplets should take in 900 extra calories a day.

Vitamins and minerals play important roles in all of your body functions. Eating healthy foods and taking a prenatal vitamin every day should supply all the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy.

Take only one serving of your prenatal supplement each day. Read the bottle to see how many pills make up one daily serving. If your obstetrician&ndashgynecologist (ob-gyn) or other obstetric care provider thinks you need an extra amount of a vitamin or mineral, he or she may recommend it as a separate supplement.

No, do not take more than the recommended amount of your prenatal vitamin per day. Some multivitamin ingredients, such as vitamin A, can cause birth defects at higher doses.

During pregnancy you need folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin C. See the below table for recommended amounts.

Key Vitamins and Minerals During Pregnancy

Calcium (1,300 milligrams for ages 14 to 18 years 1,000 milligrams for ages 19 to 50 years)

Builds strong bones and teeth

Milk, cheese, yogurt, sardines, dark green leafy vegetables

Helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to your fetus

Lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, prune juice

Essential for healthy brain development

Iodized table salt, dairy products, seafood, meat, some breads, eggs

Important for development of your fetus&rsquos brain and spinal cord

Milk, beef liver, eggs, peanuts, soy products

Vitamin A (750 micrograms for ages 14 to 18 years 770 micrograms for ages 19 to 50 years)

Forms healthy skin and eyesight

Carrots, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes

Vitamin C (80 milligrams for ages 14 to 18 years 85 milligrams for ages 19 to 50 years)

Promotes healthy gums, teeth, and bones

Citrus fruit, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries

Vitamin D (600 international units)

Builds your fetus&rsquos bones and teeth

Helps promote healthy eyesight and skin

Sunlight, fortified milk, fatty fish such as salmon and sardines

Helps form red blood cells

Helps body use protein, fat, and carbohydrates

Beef, liver, pork, ham, whole-grain cereals, bananas

Vitamin B12 (2.6 micrograms)

Helps form red blood cells

Meat, fish, poultry, milk (vegetarians should take a supplement)

Folic acid (600 micrograms)

Helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine

Supports the general growth and development of the fetus and placenta

Fortified cereal, enriched bread and pasta, peanuts, dark green leafy vegetables, orange juice, beans. Also, take a daily prenatal vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid.

Excess weight during pregnancy is associated with several pregnancy and childbirth complications, including:

Obesity during pregnancy also increases the risk of:

Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is important for pregnant women. Folic acid may help prevent major birth defects of the fetus&rsquos brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs).

When you are pregnant you need 600 micrograms of folic acid each day. Because it&rsquos hard to get this much folic acid from food alone, you should take a daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms starting at least 1 month before pregnancy and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Women who have had a child with an NTD should take 4 milligrams (mg) of folic acid each day as a separate supplement at least 3 months before pregnancy and for the first 3 months of pregnancy. You and your ob-gyn or other obstetric care provider can discuss whether you need to supplement with more than 400 micrograms daily.

Iron is used by your body to make the extra blood that you and your fetus need during pregnancy. Women who are not pregnant need 18 mg of iron per day. Pregnant women need more, 27 mg per day. This increased amount is found in most prenatal vitamins.

In addition to taking a prenatal vitamin with iron, you should eat iron-rich foods such as beans, lentils, enriched breakfast cereals, beef, turkey, liver, and shrimp. You also should eat foods that help your body absorb iron, including orange juice, grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli, and peppers.

Calcium is a mineral that builds your fetus&rsquos bones and teeth. Women who are age 18 or younger need 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Women who are 19 or older need 1,000 mg per day.

Milk and other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, are the best sources of calcium. If you have trouble digesting milk products, you can get calcium from other sources, such as broccoli, fortified foods (cereals, breads, and juices), almonds and sesame seeds, sardines or anchovies with the bones, and dark green leafy vegetables. You also can get calcium from calcium supplements.

Vitamin D works with calcium to help the fetus&rsquos bones and teeth develop. Vitamin D also is essential for healthy skin and eyesight. All women, pregnant or not, need 600 international units of vitamin D a day.

Good sources of vitamin D include fortified milk and breakfast cereal, fatty fish (salmon and mackerel), fish liver oils, and egg yolks.

Many people do not get enough vitamin D. If your ob-gyn or other obstetric care provider thinks you may have low levels of vitamin D, a test can be done to check the level in your blood. If it is below normal, you may need to take a vitamin D supplement.

Choline plays a role in your fetus&rsquos brain development. It also may help prevent some common birth defects. Experts recommend that pregnant women get 450 mg of choline each day.

Choline can be found in chicken, beef, eggs, milk, soy products, and peanuts. Although the body produces some choline on its own, it doesn&rsquot make enough to meet all your needs while you are pregnant. It&rsquos important to get choline from your diet because it is not found in most prenatal vitamins.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat found naturally in many kinds of fish. Omega-3s may be important for brain development before and after birth.

Women should eat at least two servings of fish or shellfish per week before getting pregnant, while pregnant, and while breastfeeding. A serving of fish is 8 to 12 ounces (oz).

Some types of fish have higher levels of mercury than others. Mercury is a metal that has been linked to birth defects. Do not eat bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, or tilefish. Limit white (albacore) tuna to only 6 oz a week. You also should check advisories about fish caught in local waters.

Flaxseed (ground or as oil) is a good source of omega-3s. Other sources of omega-3s include broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, cauliflower, and walnuts.

B vitamins, including B1, B2, B6, B9, and B12, are key nutrients during pregnancy. These vitamins:

Supply energy for your fetus&rsquos development

Your prenatal vitamin should have the right amount of B vitamins that you need each day. Eating foods high in B vitamins is a good idea too, including liver, pork, chicken, bananas, beans, and whole-grain cereals and breads.

Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system. It also helps build strong bones and muscles. During pregnancy, you should get at least 85 mg of vitamin C each day if you are older than 19, and 80 mg if you are younger than 19.

You can get the right amount of vitamin C in your daily prenatal vitamin, and also from citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, broccoli, and tomatoes.

Drink throughout the day, not just when you are thirsty. Aim for 8 to 12 cups of water a day during pregnancy.

There are many tools that can help you plan healthy meals. One useful tool is the MyPlate food-planning guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The MyPlate website, www.choosemyplate.gov, can help you learn how to make healthy food choices at every meal.

The MyPlate website offers a MyPlate Plan, which shows how much to eat based on how many calories you need each day. The MyPlate Plan is personalized based on your:

The MyPlate Plan can help you learn about choosing foods from each food group to get the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy. The MyPlate Plan also can help you limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats.

Bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereal, and tortillas are all grains. Whole grains are those that haven&rsquot been processed and include the whole grain kernel. Oats, barley, quinoa, brown rice, and bulgur are all whole grains, as are products made with those grains. Look for the words &ldquowhole grain&rdquo on the product label. When you plan meals, make half of your grain servings whole grains.

You can eat fresh, canned, frozen, or dried fruit. Juice that is 100 percent fruit juice also counts in the fruit category. Make half your plate fruit and vegetables during mealtimes.

You can eat raw, canned, frozen, or dried vegetables or drink 100 percent vegetable juice. Use dark leafy greens to make salads. Make half your plate fruit and vegetables during mealtimes.

Meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds all contain protein. Eat a variety of protein each day.

Milk and milk products, such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, make up the dairy group. Make sure any dairy foods you eat are pasteurized. Choose fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) varieties.

Oils and fats are another part of healthy eating. Although they are not a food group, they do give you important nutrients. During pregnancy, the fats that you eat provide energy and help build the placenta and many fetal organs.

Oils in food come mainly from plant sources, such as olive oil, nut oils, and grapeseed oil. They also can be found in certain foods, such as some fish, avocados, nuts, and olives. Most of the fats and oils in your diet should come from plant sources. Limit solid fats, such as those from animal sources. Solid fats also can be found in processed foods.

Weight gain depends on your health and your body mass index (BMI) before you were pregnant. If you were underweight before pregnancy, you should gain more weight than a woman who had a normal weight before pregnancy. If you were overweight or obese before pregnancy, you should gain less weight. The amount of weight gain differs by trimester:

  • During your first 12 weeks of pregnancy&mdashthe first trimester&mdashyou might gain only 1 to 5 pounds or none at all.
  • If you were a healthy weight before pregnancy, you should gain a half-pound to 1 pound per week in your second and third trimesters.

See the below table for recommended weight gain during pregnancy.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Less than 18.5 (underweight)

*Assumes a first-trimester weight gain between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds

Source: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2009. Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

During the first trimester with one fetus, usually no extra calories are needed. In the second trimester, you will need an extra 340 calories per day, and in the third trimester, about 450 extra calories a day. To get the extra calories during the day, have healthy snacks on hand, such as nuts, yogurt, and fresh fruit.

Excess weight during pregnancy is associated with several pregnancy and childbirth complications, including:

Obesity during pregnancy also increases the risk of:

Birth defects, especially NTDs

You and your ob-gyn or other obstetric care provider will work together to develop a nutrition and exercise plan. If you are gaining less than what the guidelines suggest, and if your fetus is growing well, gaining less than the recommended guidelines can have benefits. If your fetus is not growing well, changes may need to be made to your diet and exercise plan.

Birth Defects: Physical problems that are present at birth.

Body Mass Index: A number calculated from height and weight. BMI is used to determine whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.

Calories: Units of heat used to express the fuel or energy value of food.

Cesarean Birth: Birth of a fetus from the uterus through an incision (cut) made in the woman&rsquos abdomen.

Complications: Diseases or conditions that happen as a result of another disease or condition. An example is pneumonia that occurs as a result of the flu. A complication also can occur as a result of a condition, such as pregnancy. An example of a pregnancy complication is preterm labor.

Fetus: The stage of human development beyond 8 completed weeks after fertilization.

Folic Acid: A vitamin that reduces the risk of certain birth defects when taken before and during pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes: Diabetes that starts during pregnancy.

High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure above the normal level. Also called hypertension.

Macrosomia: A condition in which a fetus grows more than expected, often weighing more than 8 pounds and 13 ounces (4,000 grams).

Neural Tube Defects: Birth defects that result from a problem in development of the brain, spinal cord, or their coverings.

Obstetric Care Provider: A health care professional who cares for a woman during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. These professionals include obstetrician&ndashgynecologists (ob-gyns), certified nurse&ndashmidwives (CNMs), maternal&ndashfetal medicine specialists (MFMs), and family practice doctors with experience in maternal care.

Obstetrician&ndashGynecologist (Ob-Gyn): A doctor with special training and education in women&rsquos health.

Oxygen: An element that we breathe in to sustain life.

Placenta: An organ that provides nutrients to and takes waste away from the fetus.

Preeclampsia: A disorder that can occur during pregnancy or after childbirth in which there is high blood pressure and other signs of organ injury. These signs include an abnormal amount of protein in the urine, a low number of platelets, abnormal kidney or liver function, pain over the upper abdomen, fluid in the lungs, or a severe headache or changes in vision.

Preterm: Less than 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Trimester: A 3-month time in pregnancy. It can be first, second, or third.

Funny Pregnancy Books

As pregnancy hormones begin to wreak havoc on your emotional state, it’s best to seek out laughter—it really is the best medicine. The good news is that funny pregnancy books can make you belly-laugh while teaching you about the craziness to come in the next nine months and beyond.

Funny Little Pregnant Things: The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Gross Things about Pregnancy That Other Books Aren’t Going to Tell You by Emily Doherty, amazon.com

Get ready for your baby bump to bounce with laughter. This funny pregnancy book skips comparing your fetus to produce and tells you what you really need to know without trying to “scare the baby out of you.”

Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy, amazon.com

Pregnancy serves up some LOL moments, and Jenny McCarthy—yes, that Jenny McCarthy—captures them all in her classic pregnancy book, guiding moms-to-be for ten years and counting. She uses her sharp sense of humor to discuss hormones, hemorrhoids, having sex while pregnant, granny panties and so much more. When you start to take your pregnancy too seriously, this is one of the funny pregnancy books sure to offer comic relief.

It’s Really 10 Months: Delivering the Truth About the Glow of Pregnancy and Other Blatant Lies by Natalie Guenther, Kim Schenkelberg and Celeste Snodgrass, amazon.com

What happens when three thirtysomething friends experience pregnancy at the same time? A hilarious pregnancy book that offers moms-to-be the emotional support they need over the next 9—er, 10—months.

Let’s Panic About Babies!: How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant Who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain, and Finally Turn You into a Worthwhile Human Being by Alice Bradley and Eden M. Kennedy, amazon.com

If you’re a bit of a hypochondriac, pregnancy is no doubt causing your anxiety to skyrocket.But this book about pregnancy can help ground you by providing answers you need—with the humor necessary to make it easier to roll with the (baby) punches (and kicks).

The Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People by Jordan Reid and Erin Williams, amazon.com

When the urge hits for coffee or wine, when baby kicks are keeping you up at night or when you made the umpeenth trip to the bathroom, this activity book will keep you from losing your mommy-to-be mind. Filled with ideas for journal entries, pictures to color, doodling prompts and more, this hilarious activity-based pregnancy book is there to help you maintain your sanity in a less serious way.

Salt & Protein Can Reduce Risk for Pre-eclampsia

Eating a whole foods diet, with adequate amounts of protein, and water to thirst, can help alleviate many of the complications women face during pregnancy. A diet high in protein can help repair and grow muscle, stabilize blood sugar, and can lower a mother’s risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Pre-eclampsia, a potentially life threatening condition, affects between 5-8% of mothers. Symptoms include high blood pressure, edema, rapid weight gain, visual disturbances, headaches, and pain in the upper right quadrant. The only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery of the baby.

When I was pregnant with my first son, my midwife suggested I eat 80-120 grams of protein a day. Without fully understanding why this was so important, I gave it a shot, but really didn’t track my protein intake too closely. Around 35 weeks, my blood pressure started to rise, and at every prenatal appointment it was higher and higher. In an effort to reduce my blood pressure, friends and family told me to cut my salt intake, and unfortunately, I listened. As a result, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at 36 weeks and risked out of my homebirth. At 37 weeks, I went to the hospital for an induction and had a very difficult birth that ended up being vastly different than anything I had hoped or planned for. I learned the hard way just how important protein and salt intake is in the maternal diet.

As someone who has experienced pre-eclampsia, it is important that I help spread the message about how diet can impact your and baby’s health and birth. This graphic explains how the body reacts when mom does not consume enough protein, calories and salt.

(The Brewer Diet can be very beneficial to pregnant mothers and focuses on a whole foods diet that is high in protein. This website is a wonderful resource to for those interested in learning more about The Brewer Diet. Proper nutrition really can make a huge difference in your birth experience.)


Transition can be a very intense moment for women. Most women who are doing a natural birth go into another head space or altered state all together. Others can become frightened or want to quit. She can begin to shake, shiver, or become hot and cold. Her cervix is going from 8 cm - 10 cm. Transition is much faster than early and active stages of labor. It can last anywhere between a few minutes to a couple of hours.

  • Keep doing what worked.
  • Again, if she begins to panic, synchronize your breathing with hers. Look her in her eyes and tell her to breathe with you. Help her slow her breathing down.
  • Be close to her.
  • Continue to trust her and your baby. Both of them are working very hard.

New Utah law requires dads to pay prenatal child support

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Biological fathers in Utah will be legally required to pay half of a woman’s out-of-pocket pregnancy costs under a new law unique to the state that critics say doesn’t do enough to adequately address maternal health care needs.

The bill’s sponsor has presented the measure as an effort to decrease the burden of pregnancy on women and increase responsibility for men who have children. But some critics argue the new legislation won’t help women who are most vulnerable and could make abusive situations even more dangerous for pregnant women.

Utah appears to be the first state to mandate prenatal child support, according to the state’s Planned Parenthood association and the bill’s sponsor. But a few states, including Wisconsin and New York, have provisions that can result in fathers being financially responsible for pre-birth expenses.

Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, recently signed the proposal, which received widespread support in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Republican Rep. Brady Brammer said he decided to sponsor the measure because he had grown frustrated with the number of anti-abortion measures going through the Legislature and wanted to pursue legislation that would make it easier to bring life into the world.

“We want to help people and actually be pro-life in how we do it as opposed to anti-abortion,” Brammer said. “One of the ways to help with that was to help the burden of pregnancy be decreased.”

The bill would apply to a pregnant woman’s health insurance premiums and any pregnancy-related medical costs, Brammer said.

If the paternity of the child is disputed, fathers won’t be required to pay until after paternity is established. The father also wouldn’t be financially responsible for the cost of an abortion received without his consent unless it’s necessary to prevent the death of the mother or if the pregnancy was the result of rape.

In Utah, mothers already have the option to seek support related to birth expenses through the courts but few do, said Liesa Stockdale, director of the state’s Office of Recovery Services, which typically collects child support. She said mothers will now have the option to also seek pregnancy-related payments through the legal system, but it’s unclear how often they will pursue it.

“I don’t know how often it will be used,” Stockdale said. “That’s yet to be seen how often parents will choose to pursue these costs. But certainly if they do, we’re here to collect.”

The bill is not intended to lower the frequency of abortions, but Brammer said that could be a potential result.

Anti-abortion activists have lauded the bill, however, saying it will protect the lives of unborn children by supporting women through their pregnancy. Merrilee Boyack, chairman of the Abortion-Free Utah coalition, said she hopes this bill will decrease abortions in the state by lessening economic pressures on new moms.

“Anything we can do to support women in these circumstances will help them be able to give birth to their babies, feel good about that choice and feel supported along the way,” Boyack said.

The new legislation comes on top of a long list of restrictions Utah has placed on abortion. Last year, the state approved a measure that would make abortions illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the decades-old ruling that legalized it nationwide. The Utah measure would make it a felony to perform the procedure, except in cases involving rape, incest and serious threat to the life of a mother.

Other Republican-governed states have been considering an array of tough anti-abortion restrictions this year. Sweeping abortion bans have already been signed into law in South Carolina and Arkansas.

Democratic lawmakers and women’s rights activists have questioned whether the new legislation on fathers helping to cover costs will actually meet women’s needs.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Katrina Barker said she supports giving women more financial support but said there are better ways to help women, like expanding Medicaid, access to contraception and providing paid parental leave.

Barker also said she doesn’t believe this legislation will lead to fewer women having abortions because the costs of pregnancy are typically small compared with the costs of raising a child.

“In the grand scheme of things, having a child and raising them to adulthood is going to be a lot more money,” Barker said.

The average cost of raising a child is $233,610 – excluding the cost of college – for a middle-income family, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cost of an abortion can range from being free to up to $1,000 depending on location and whether the mother has health insurance, according to Planned Parenthood.

Domestic abuse tends to escalate during pregnancy and seeking these costs could further increase stressors about financially supporting a baby, said Gabriella Archuleta, a public policy analyst with YWCA Utah, which provides services to domestic violence survivors. About 324,000 pregnant women are abused each year in the United States, according to data from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Archuleta also noted that this measure doesn’t equitably address the high cost of navigating the legal system and will likely only serve women who are wealthier or have wealthy partners.

“On the surface of it, it sounds like a good idea,” Archuleta said. “But what we’re here to do is look at some of the nuances and how it impacts women, and I don’t think those nuances were really explored to the extent that they should have been.”

Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pregnancy: Nutrition

Congratulations! You are now eating for you and your baby. While there are 2 of you now, you only need to increase your calorie intake by 500 calories. This guide will help you choose a variety of healthy foods for you and your baby to get all the nutrients you need.

What foods should I eat?

You will need an additional 200 to 300 extra calories from nutrient-dense foods such as lean meats, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grain products. It will be important to carefully consider the foods you consume during your pregnancy. This is a time to eat more foods that are nutrient-dense, and fewer sweets and treats. Eat a variety of foods. Use the website www.choosemyplate.gov as a guide to choose the amounts of foods in each food group.

Daily guidelines for eating healthy during pregnancy

    : Calcium is needed in the body to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium also allows the blood to clot normally, nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day for pregnant and lactating (breastfeeding) women. Women 19 years or younger need 1,300 mg a day. Eat or drink 4 servings of dairy products or foods rich in calcium. Dairy products are the best source of calcium. Other sources of calcium are dark, leafy greens, fortified cereal, breads, fish, fortified orange juices, almonds and sesame seeds. : Folic acid is used to make the extra blood your body needs during pregnancy. ACOG and the March of Dimes recommend 400 micrograms (mcg) per day for pregnant women. This amount is included in your prenatal vitamins. The March of Dimes suggests that 70% of all neural tube defects can be avoided with appropriate folic acid intake. Some women are at an increased risk for having a baby with an open neural tube defect (including but not limited to women with a family history of spina bifida, women on anti-epileptic medication, etc.). ACOG recommends additional folic acid for women at an increased risk for neural tube defect. Your doctor can discuss this with you and in some instances, refer you for genetic counseling to discuss further. Foods rich in folic acid include lentils, kidney beans, green leafy vegetables (spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, and broccoli), citrus fruits, nuts and beans. Folic acid is also added as a supplement to certain foods such as fortified breads, cereal, pasta, rice, and flours. : Iron is an important part of red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the body. Iron will help you build resistance to stress and disease, as well as help you avoid tiredness, weakness, irritability, and depression. ACOG recommends you receive 27 total mg of iron a day between food and your prenatal vitamin. Good sources include whole grain products, lean beef and pork, dried fruit and beans, sardines and green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin A: ACOG recommends you receive 770 mcg of Vitamin A daily. Foods rich in Vitamin A are leafy green vegetables, deep yellow or orange vegetables (e.g., carrots or sweet potatoes), milk, and liver.
  • Daily recommendations: Include 2 to 3 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of fruits, at least 3 servings of whole grain bread, cereals, pasta, 2 to 3 servings of lean protein (e.g., meat, fish, and poultry). : Vitamin D works with calcium to help the baby’s bones and teeth develop. It also is essential for healthy skin and eyesight. All women, including those who are pregnant, need 600 international units of vitamin D a day. Good sources are milk fortified with vitamin D and fatty fish such as salmon. Exposure to sunlight also converts a chemical in the skin to vitamin D.
  • DHA: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), recommends pregnant and lactating women should aim for an average daily intake of at least 200 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) a day in addition to your prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins, as well as DHA, can be purchased over-the-counter or with a prescription.
  • Protein: Protein is an important nutrient needed for growth and development. Protein is needed for energy and to build and repair different parts of your body, especially brain, muscle and blood. A pregnant woman needs additional protein for her baby's growth. Each person needs different amounts of protein depending on their size. A woman weighing 150 pounds needs 75 grams of protein every day. (To estimate, use your pre-pregnant weight and divide by 2.) Choose a variety of protein-rich foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Use labels on packaged food to determine how many grams of protein each food provides. : Alcohol has been linked with premature delivery and low birth weight babies, as well as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
  • Caffeine: It is recommended to limit your caffeine intake. You may choose: two 5-ounce cups of coffee, three 5-ounce cups of tea, or two 12-ounce glasses of caffeinated soda.
  • Eat salty foods in moderation. Salt causes your body to retain water and could lead to an elevation in your blood pressure.
  • Do not diet! Even if you are overweight, your pregnancy is not an acceptable time to lose weight. You or your baby could be missing essential nutrients for good growth.

Are there foods that are harmful to eat during pregnancy?

There are specific foods that you will want to avoid during your pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can have a negative effect on your immune system and put you at greater risk for contracting a foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has found that contracting the foodborne illness Listeria during pregnancy can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, and even fetal death. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract Listeria.

  • You can decrease your chances of contracting Listeria by using caution with hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, or other deli meats (e.g., bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
  • Avoid getting fluid from hot dog and lunch meat packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
  • Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela (queso panela) unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Make sure the label says, "MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK.”
  • Pay attention to labels. Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. Foods that do not need refrigeration, like canned or shelf-stable pâté and meat spreads, are safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.
  • Other foods that are more likely to cause foodborne illnesses include sushi, rare or undercooked meats and poultry (chicken), beef, raw eggs, Caesar dressing, and mayonnaise. For more information on Listeria, go to the CDC.

Another food of concern for pregnant women is fish. Although fish is a low-fat, healthful protein choice, there are certain fish that have elevated levels of methyl mercury or Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), a pollutant in the environment.

Consuming fish with high levels of methyl mercury during pregnancy has been associated with brain damage and developmental delay for babies.

  • Eating identified safe fish 1 time a week is safe for pregnant women.
  • The March of Dimes recommends pregnant women should avoid all raw and seared fish. Raw fish includes sushi and sashimi, undercooked finfish, and undercooked shellfish (such as undercooked oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops).
  • Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish even when cooked as they have higher levels of mercury.
  • The March of Dimes cautions against eating fish that may contain higher levels of PCBs. Fish in this category include bluefish, bass, freshwater salmon, pike, trout, and walleye.

For more information on safe fish, go to the CDC or the March of Dimes.

How much weight should I gain?

Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy by eating a balanced diet is a good sign that your baby is getting all of the nutrients he or she needs and is growing at a healthy rate.

Weight gain should be slow and gradual. In general, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during your first 3 months of pregnancy and 1 pound a week for the remainder of the pregnancy. A woman of average weight before pregnancy can expect to gain 15 to 35 pounds during the pregnancy. You may need to gain more or less depending on whether you are underweight or overweight when you get pregnant. Recommendations also differ if you are carrying more than 1 baby.

Where does all the weight go?

  • Baby, 6-8 pounds
  • Placenta, 2-3 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid, 2-3 pounds
  • Breast tissue, 0-3 pounds
  • Blood supply, 3-4 pounds
  • Fat stores for delivery and breastfeeding (remainder of weight)
  • Uterus increase, 2-5 pounds

What if I am gaining too much weight?

Try to get your weight back on track. Don't consider losing weight or stopping weight gain altogether. You should try to slow your weight gain to recommended amounts, depending on your trimester. During the first trimester, you should gain 2 to 4 pounds total during the second and third trimester, you should gain 1 pound per week. Consider trying these diet changes to gain weight more slowly:

  • Eat the appropriate portion size and avoid second helpings.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products.
  • Exercise consider walking or swimming on most if not all days.
  • Use low-fat cooking methods.
  • Limit sweets and high-calorie snacks.
  • Limit sweet and sugary drinks.

What if I am not gaining enough weight?

Every woman is different and not everyone will gain at the same rate. You should talk to your doctor if you are concerned that you are not gaining enough. Weight gain can be hindered by nausea and morning sickness. Excessive vomiting can be a symptom of hyperemesis gravidarum, which you should discuss with your doctor. Consider trying these diet changes to gain weight within appropriate ranges:

  • Eat more frequently. Try eating 5 to 6 times per day.
  • Choose nutrient and calorically dense foods such as dried fruit, nuts, crackers with peanut butter, and ice cream.
  • Add a little extra cheese, honey, margarine, or sugar to the foods you are eating.

What can I eat if I am not feeling well?

Pregnancy symptoms vary. Some women may have difficulty with morning sickness, diarrhea, or constipation. Here are a few suggestions on how to deal with these symptoms.

  • Morning sickness: For morning sickness, try eating crackers, cereal, or pretzels before you get out of bed. Eat small meals more frequently throughout the day. Avoid fatty, fried foods.
  • Constipation: Increase your fiber intake by eating high fiber cereal and fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of water—at least 10-12 glasses per day.
  • Diarrhea: Increase your intake of foods containing pectin and gum fiber to help absorb excess water. Good choices include applesauce, bananas, white rice, oatmeal, and refined wheat bread. : Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, eat slowly and chew thoroughly, avoid spicy or rich foods, and caffeine. Do not drink a lot of fluids with your meal, drink fluids in between meals. Try not to lie down after eating a meal, and keep your head elevated when lying down.

Are cravings normal?

Many women will have food cravings during pregnancy, but there are others who do not. If you have food cravings, it's okay to indulge as long as it fits into a healthy diet and does not occur too often.

If you are craving non-food items such as ice, laundry detergent, dirt, clay, ashes, or paint chips, you may have a condition known as pica. You should discuss this with your doctor immediately. Eating non-food items can be harmful to you and your baby and may be a sign of a nutritional deficiency such as iron deficiency.

All Moms and Dads-to-Be, This Might Help You Get Through Tough Times of Pregnancy

Right from the start of our pregnancy journey, my wife and I had a lot of mixed feelings.
It was mainly because of the miscarriage we had a few months ago. Sometimes we felt that it will be very difficult for us to deal with the amount of pain associated with another pregnancy chance, but fortunately, my wife showed courage, and we went ahead and had a baby.

Initially, we were just too worried about the negatives, and never really focused on the beautiful time of the pregnancy, which made us miss a whole lot of fun times that we could have had, had we not been busy worrying about the nonsense. I would like to advice each and every Mom and Dad to be out there to think ahead, stop thinking about the negatives, and focus more on the positives.

My wife and I are having the best time of our life, looking forward to the most promising thing that has ever happened to us.

For our current pregnancy, we had trouble conceiving, because of my wife&rsquos high thyroid issue. But, we were guided very rightly by our gynaecologist. She was our shining light during our dark period in life.

After conceiving, the first few months are the toughest time for any couple, as the mom&rsquos body keeps going through different changes, and she has a hard time dealing with all the changes, managing her daily schedule, and maintaining her social life as well. During this time, all the relationships are tested, and if you love your partner enough, like I do, you will be able to go through this period quite easily, like we did.

Even though the second trimester is said to be the easiest and the most relaxing time in pregnancy, from the child growth point of view, all the child&rsquos important organs like the brain, lungs, and heart develop during this time, so it is very important for dads-to-be to take care of the moms-to-be, so that she can concentrate on the child inside her.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions (including content in any form) expressed within this post are those of the author alone. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The responsibility for intellectual property rights of this content rests with the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with him/her.


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  4. Tyla

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