Pregnancy Nutrition

Pregnancy Nutrition: Folate and Multivitamins

Even women who plan carefully to eat healthy every day can be missing out on some important nutrients, like folic acid, which helps prevent serious birth defects of your baby's brain and spine. Those birth defects occur before most women know they are pregnant.
To be certain that you are getting enough folic acid and other vitamins, it is helpful to take a daily multivitamin or prenatal vitamin before you get pregnant. But don't overdo it -- taking more than one multivitamin daily can be harmful.
Prenatal supplements contain folic acid (another form of folate). Look for a supplement that has at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid.
Be sure to also include foods high in folate at part of your pregnancy nutrition plan, such as:
  • Orange juice
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Beans
  • Fortified breads and breakfast cereals.
Although most healthcare providers recommend taking a multivitamin/mineral "prenatal" supplement before becoming pregnant, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding, always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

The Importance of Avoiding Alcohol

There is no safe time during pregnancy for you to drink alcohol. There is also no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.
When you are pregnant and you drink beer, wine, hard liquor, or other alcoholic beverages, alcohol gets into your blood. The alcohol in your blood goes to your baby through the umbilical cord. When the alcohol enters the baby's body, it can slow down the baby's growth, affect the baby's brain, and cause birth defects.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. Some people with FASD may have abnormal facial features and growth and central nervous system problems. People with FASD may also have problems with:
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Attention span
  • Communication
  • Vision
  • Hearing.
These problems often lead to problems in school and problems getting along with others. The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome can last a lifetime.
If you are pregnant and have been drinking alcohol, stop drinking now to protect your baby. If you need help to stop drinking, talk with your doctor or nurse.
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