Pregnancy can be an exciting time, but nerve-wracking, too, especially if you’re trying to do everything right, including eating healthy. There is so much information to absorb and everyone from your mother to your neighbor to your co-worker has nutrition advice for you.
Chances are, though, that your mother’s rules for a healthy pregnancy diet were different then than they would be now. That’s because modern medicine informs dietary decisions, like which vitamins are best to take and which drinks and foods are okay to consume.
Your obstetrician has plenty of good what-to-eat advice. Be sure to listen to your doctor and then relax a bit, knowing he or she will be guiding your healthy living plan for nine months.
“During pregnancy, your baby counts on you for the nutrients she needs to grow healthy and strong,” says Dr. Siobhan Dolan, March of Dimes medical advisor, noting that most pregnant women only need about 300 more calories each day, which could be an extra snack like an apple with peanut butter or a piece of cheese.
Need help tracking your pregnancy diet? Check out the USDA’s daily food plans for moms.
When a woman needs to eat can vary.
“It will change throughout your trimesters and it varies with each woman,” says obstetrician Dr. Adam Wolfberg, associate director of medical affairs at Ariosa Diagnostics. “In the first trimester, you may need to eat small meals in order to get the calories you need without feeling nauseated.”
Eating healthy is always the goal, but the definition of “healthy” has changed over the years. In some cases, foods, drinks, and supplements that used to be safe are now avoided.
Can pregnant women drink a cup of caffeinated coffee? Eat their favorite fish for dinner? Sprinkle a sugar substitute into their cereal?
It’s tough knowing what’s okay to eat and what should you avoid. Read on as maternity experts debunk some of the myths of pregnancy diets.
A generation or two ago, moms-to-be smoked and drank a glass of wine now and then. But these days, cigarettes and booze are off-limits.
“Keep in mind that there is no amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy that has been proven to be safe, and several studies have shown that heavy drinking can cause birth defects,” explains Wolfberg. “I do not recommend women drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.”
Pregnant women need a lot of healthy variety in their meals and snacks.
“Put as much color on your plate as you can, with all different kinds of fruits and vegetables,” says. Dolan. “Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.”
She also suggests pregnant women eat from the five basic food groups at every meal, including whole-grain bread and pasta, lean meats, low-fat or skim milk, and eight to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish each week.