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Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy

Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy

Your baby is depending on you to make healthy food choices during your pregnancy.

It is important that you eat nutritious foods, be aware of the key nutrients of concern and gain an appropriate amount of weight during your pregnancy. 

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Eat Healthful Foods!

Now is the time to get your diet in check! When you are pregnant, your body needs extra nutrients and extra calories to keep up with the growth of your fetus, maternal tissues, larger blood supply, and preparation for lactation. Health Canada’s Eating well with Canada’s Food Guide is a resource that is designed to meet the nutritional needs of women during pregnancy. Visit Health Canada’s website at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index_e.html for a copy of the food guide for your use.

Most pregnant women and new moms aren’t aware of the many benefits of eating seafood, both for themselves and their growing babies. Click here to check out a four-part series by Dr. James McGregor, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, as he sheds light on a study that shows the benefits of seafood in a pregnant woman’s diet. (Source: Reporter Julie McPeake from Southeast AGNet)

Top Nutrition Concerns for Women:

Folic Acid
According to Health Canada, women who are contemplating pregnancy should take 400 μg (0.4mg) of folic acid daily as part of a multivitamin or prenatal supplement. Folic acid is important to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and to support increased blood volume and growth of maternal/fetal tissues. Folic acid is also found in foods such as green leafy vegetables, orange juice, beans/legumes, and enriched grains.

Calcium & Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D help to ensure you keep your bones strong during pregnancy while providing skeletal development for your baby as well as for the production of breast milk. The best sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy/rice milk. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, milk, fortified soy/rice milk, margarine, and egg yolks. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to ensure you are getting enough.

Iron
Iron needs are high during pregnancy to support the increase in your red blood cells and to supply the growing fetus and placenta. Your doctor will be taking blood tests throughout your pregnancy to monitor if you are getting enough iron. The best sources of iron most easily absorbed by the body include meat, poultry and fish. Other sources of iron include vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, eggs, iron-enriched cereals and pastas, although the iron in these foods is not as easily absorbed by the body.

Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats are healthy fats for your heart but also for fetal brain, eye and nervous system development. Be sure to eat foods rich in omega-3 fats during your pregnancy such as fatty fish, walnuts and canola oil.

References:
Health Canada. Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy: National Guidelines for the Childbearing Years. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada; 1999.

Updated: November, 2009