Pregnancy Diet

Other Nutrients as Part of a Pregnancy Diet

Other nutrients that are an important part of a diet for pregnancy include:
Folic Acid
Folic acid is an important vitamin for any woman who could possibly become pregnant. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects of a baby's brain or spine (called neural tube defects) and other birth defects like cleft lip and congenital heart disease. Folic acid is needed very early in pregnancy, usually before a woman knows she is pregnant. That is why it's so important that every woman who could possibly become pregnant gets enough folic acid every day, starting at least one month before pregnancy.
One easy way to ensure that you are getting enough folic acid every day is to take a daily multivitamin. Most multivitamins sold in the United States contain enough folic acid for the day. Check the label. Your vitamin should contain 400 micrograms (400 mcg) or 100 percent of the daily value (DV) for folic acid. Another way to get enough folic acid is to eat a serving of breakfast cereal that contains 100 percent DV for folic acid every day. Just check the nutrition label to be sure -- look for "100%" next to folic acid.
In your pregnancy diet, you need iron to keep your blood healthy for you and your baby. Bones and teeth also need iron to develop properly.
Too little iron can cause a condition called anemia. If you have anemia, you might look pale and feel very tired. Your doctor can check for signs of anemia through the routine blood tests that are taken in different stages of your pregnancy.
All pregnant women should take a low-dose iron supplement, beginning at the first prenatal care visit, or even before, when you are planning to get pregnant. Prenatal vitamins that your doctor prescribes or that you find over-the-counter usually have the amount of iron you need. Check the label to make sure they contain iron. If your doctor finds that you have anemia, he or she will give you a higher dose of iron supplements to take once or twice a day.
You can help prevent anemia by eating more iron-rich foods as part of your diet during pregnancy. Iron-rich foods are things like:
  • Lean red meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dried fruits
  • Whole-grain breads
  • Iron-fortified cereals.
Water plays a key role in your pregnancy diet. It carries the nutrients from the foods you eat to your baby and helps prevent you from getting constipation, hemorrhoids (see Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy), excessive swelling, and urinary tract or bladder infections. Drinking enough water, especially in the third trimester, prevents you from becoming dehydrated. Not getting enough water can lead you to have contractions and premature or early labor.
Pregnant women should drink at least six 8-ounce glasses of water per day and another glass for each hour of activity as part of their pregnancy diet. You can drink juices for fluid, but they also have a lot of calories and can cause you to gain extra weight. Coffee, soft drinks, and teas that have caffeine actually reduce the amount of fluid in your body, so they cannot count toward the total amount of fluid you need.
(You can read more about diet and nutrition during pregnancy by going to the eMedTV article on Pregnancy Nutrition.)
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