Nutrition During Pregnancy Ingredient labels can become overwhelming when you’re expecting. You’ve become extra conscious about everything going into your body as you navigate what’s the best possible meal plan for the health of you and your baby. Truth is, there isn’t one magic diet plan. The basic principles of healthy eating remain the same in pregnancy—plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and sources of lean protein. Nutrients to seek out Folate and folic acid: These can prevent serious brain and spinal cord abnormalities if taken before conception and during the first three months of pregnancy. Research has shown that folate is more easily absorbed and used by the body so looking for a prenatal vitamin with folate can be beneficial. Found in: whole grain cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans, legumes and nuts. Calcium: Build up strong bones and teeth for both you and baby. Your baby also needs calcium to develop a healthy heart, nerves and muscles. If you are not getting enough calcium, the baby will take calcium from your own bones, which can negatively impact your health. Found in: milk (skim is best), eggs, fish, dark green leafy vegetables and dairy products. Iron: You need twice as much iron during pregnancy. Your body uses it to form red blood cells that carry oxygen to your tissues and the baby. Without it, you can become fatigued, be more prone to infections or develop anemia. You also increase your risk of delivering prematurely. Found in: lean red meat, poultry, fish, spinach, broccoli, collard greens, lima beans and lentils. Vitamin C: You need this to aid in your body’s ability to absorb iron. Vitamin C is also important for maintaining healthy gums, teeth and bones. Found in: citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes. Protein: It’s essential to your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters when your baby is growing more rapidly. Found in: lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dried beans, dairy products, tofu and peanut butter. What to avoid Seafood high in mercury: Women should avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and striped bass. Harmful bacteria or viruses can also come from consuming raw fish, raw sushi, shell fish or anything caught in polluted waters. If you’re a seafood lover, stick to fatty fish, such as salmon, as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, protein and iron. Unpasteurized dairy: Soft cheeses can harbor listeria, a rare bacteria especially harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies. These include brie, feta, blue-veined cheeses, camembert, and Mexican-style cheeses like queso blanco and queso fresco. Any cheeses made with raw milk should also be avoided. Undercooked meats and poultry: Practice good kitchen hygiene and pay attention to the temperature of your meats and poultry. Always measure with a meat thermometer to avoid listeria infection. Caffeine: Avoid it all together if you can. It can affect your baby’s heart rate. Some studies associate too much of it with low birth weights and a higher incidence of miscarriage. If you cannot eliminate it entirely from your daily consumption, try to stick to decaf or no more than 200 mg of caffeine a day. A certified nurse midwife at Gentle Beginnings can help you begin making healthier choices for you and your baby. Call one of our offices below to schedule an appointment. Locations: Elmer Office: 389 Harding Highway, Suite 1 Elmer, NJ 08318 Get Directions (856) 358-1100 Haddon Heights Office 708 Station Avenue Haddon Heights, NJ 08035 Get Directions (856) 265-0200 Follow us on social media!