WHS Pregnancy Welcome Packet: Your Nutrition and Health

[accordions title=”Your Health and Nutrition” active=1 event=”click” disabled=false autoheight=false] [accordion title=”Gaining Weight During Pregnancy”]Weight gain is normal during pregnancy.  It is part of the body changes that occur.  You need to control your weight gain if you want a healthy baby.  A slow and steady weight gain is your best bet. Pregnant women need to eat an additional 100-300 calories per day.  This is not a lot of food.  “Eating for two” is an old fashioned idea that is no longer true.

You should gain about 10lbs. the first three months.  After that, you should gain about ½ to 1 lb a week.  Your total weight gain should be about 25 to 35 lbs, if you are healthy and a normal weight.  See the recommendations below:

Recommendations for Weight Gain During Pregnancy

  • Underweight women (BMI less than 20): 30-40 lbs
  • Normal weight women (BMI 20-25): 25-35lbs
  • Overweight women (BMI 26-29): 15-25 lbs
  • Obese women (BMI>29): up to 15 lbs
[/accordion] [accordion title=”Extra Nutrients”]Pregnant women need extra iron and folic acid and these are usually prescribed in a pill form as prenatal vitamins.  Taking folic acid for 3 months prior to pregnancy and during the first three months of pregnancy can reduce the risk of certain birth defects such as Spina Bifida.

Check with your doctor before taking any vitamins, herbs or other supplements that are not prescribed for you.  Just because a product is “natural” does not mean it is safe to use during pregnancy.[/accordion] [accordion title=”Food Groups”]A diet based on the food pyramid for pregnancy can help you to incorporate a balance of healthy foods in your diet. Try to eat the daily-recommended servings for each food group to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.

It is up to you to make good food choices for you and your baby!!

The best way to do this is by following the food pyramid listed below:

Food Group Servings Examples
Grains 6 ounces 1 cup cereal, 1 slice of bread, or 1/2cup cooked rice or pasta can be considered as 1 ounce
Vegetables 2 ½ cups 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups raw leafy greens can be considered as 1 cup
Fruits 1 ½- 2 cups 1 cup fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup sun dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup
Meat and Beans 5-5 ½ ounces 2-3 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish, ½ cup cooked dried beans, 1 egg, 2 Tablespoons peanut butter, or ½ cup nuts or seeds equals 1 ounce
Milk 3 cups 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 ½ oz of natural cheese.

Key Nutrients During Pregnancy


Nutrient Reason for Importance Sources
Calcium (1000 MG) Helps build strong bones and teeth Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Sardines
Iron (27 MG) Helps create red blood cells that deliver oxygen to the baby and also prevents fatigue Lean red meat, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals.
Vitamin A (770 mcg) Forms healthy skin and helps eyesight, helps with bone growth Carrots, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes
Vitamin C (85 MG) Promotes healthy gums, teeth and bones. Helps your body absorb iron
Vitamin B6 Helps form red blood cells, helps body use protein, fat and carbohydrates Beef ,liver,liver,pork,whole grain cereals,bananas
Vitamin B12 (2.6mcg) Maintain nervous system, needed to form red blood cells Liver,meat,fish,poultry,milk(only found in animal foods, vegetarians should take a supplement)
Folate (600mcg) Needed to produce blood and protein, helps some enzymes Green leafy vegetables, liver, orange juice, legumes and nuts.
[/accordion] [accordion title=”Special Concerns”]
  • Vegetarian Diet
    • Be sure you are getting enough protein.  You will probably need to take supplements especially iron, B12 and vitamin D
  • Lactose Intolerance
    • During pregnancy, symptoms of lactose intolerance often improve.  If you are still having problems after eating or drinking daily products, talk with your doctor.  We may prescribe calcium supplements if you cannot get enough calcium from other foods.  Remember, calcium can also be found in cheese, yogurt, sardines, certain types of salmon, spinach, and fortified orange juice.
[/accordion] [accordion title=”Foods To Avoid in Pregnancy”]
  • Raw Meat: Avoid uncooked seafood and undercooked beef or poultry due to risk of bacterial contamination, Toxoplasmosis and Salmonella
  • Deli Meat: In rare cases, may contain bacteria called Listeria that can lead to pregnancy complications and miscarriage.  If eating deli meat, reheat until steaming to kill any bacteria.
  • Fish With Mercury: Avoid fish with high levels of mercury including shark, swordfish, king Mackerel and Tilefish.  For other fish, limit consumption to two servings per week.
  • Smoked Seafood: Refrigerated, smoked seafood should be avoided due to risks of Listeria (Bacteria) contamination.
  • Raw Shellfish: including clams, oysters, and mussels can cause bacterial infections.  Cooked shrimp is safe.
  • Raw Eggs: Raw eggs or any food containing raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella.  This includes some homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, and homemade ice-cream.
  • Soft Cheeses: Imported soft cheeses may contain Listeria.  Soft cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe.
  • Unpasteurized Milk: May contain Listeria which can lead to miscarriage.
  • Pate: Refrigerated Pate or meat spreads should be avoided due to risks of Listeria.
  • Caffeine: Avoid caffeine during the 1st Trimester to reduce risk of miscarriage.  After the first trimester limit caffeine intake to the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee a day or less.  Excess caffeine may be associated with miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in infants.
  • Alcohol: There is NO amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy and therefore it should be avoided. Drinking alcohol can cause birth defects, mental retardation and abnormal brain development.  Continue to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding.
  • Unwashed vegetables: Wash all vegetables well to avoid exposure to Toxoplasmosis which may contaminate the soil where vegetables are grown.[/accordion]
[accordion title=”Prenatal Vitamins”] We recommend a daily prenatal vitamin to help provide the best balance of nutrition for you and your baby.  Either over the counter or prescription vitamins are fine.  If you cannot tolerate a prenatal vitamin, recommend 2 children’s chewable vitamins a day instead.  If vitamins are causing nausea, try taking them at nighttime with a snack.  If constipation is an issue, increase the fiber in your diet, drink more fluids and increase activity. An over the counter stool softener may be added if needed.[/accordion] [accordion title=”Artificial Sweeteners”] (Aspartame, more commonly known as Equal or NutraSweet)

These are OK to use but we recommend limiting it to 1-2 servings per day.  If you have diabetes, the artificial sweeteners are better than sugar to control your blood sugars.[/accordion]


[accordion title=”Exercise and Sex”]In an uncomplicated pregnancy, we recommend 30 minutes or more of exercise daily which includes aerobic activities (walking, jogging, biking, aerobic classes, yoga, swimming, tennis, etc).  Weight training and toning are fine.  You can continue your usual workouts but may have to reduce intensity or shorten them.  It’s a good idea to listen to your body during exercise and drink plenty of fluids.  After 20 weeks you should avoid lying flat on your back during exercise.  Your target heart is calculated by your age.  Basically, if you are breathing hard, slow down.  Avoid activities with a high risk of falling or trauma to your belly.

You can have sex during pregnancy unless you are having complications or you are too uncomfortable.  If there is any concern for sexually transmitted diseases, then use condoms or don’t have sex.

Exercise and Sex should be avoided if any of the following occur:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking amniotic fluid
  • Preterm labor
  • Chest pain
  • Regular uterine contractions
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Growth restricted baby
  • Headache/Dizziness/Weakness
[/accordion] [accordion title=”Sleep”]It is normal to feel more tired when you are pregnant.  You may also notice you need more sleep than usual.  Try to get at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night.  Sometimes you will require significantly more so listen to your body and plan extra sleep time when you are tired.

It is safe for women experiencing a normal pregnancy to lie on their back for sleep.  However, sometimes lying on your back can cause your blood pressure to drop.  Hot or cold sweats and nausea may occur.  If this happens, don’t worry, you did not hurt your baby.  Many women find it helpful to put a pillow behind them to support the back and hips.  As your pregnancy progresses, it may require more pillows and frequent position changes during the night to keep comfortable.[/accordion] [accordion title=”Smoking”]If you smoke, SO DOES YOUR BABY!!!!!  This is a very important fact of pregnancy.  The placenta (afterbirth) is the organ that connects the developing baby to you.  It consists mostly of blood vessels and is attached to your uterus on one side and to your baby on the other side by way of the umbilical cord.  Its job is to allow the passage of nutrients, oxygen, vitamins and other substances to pass from your blood to the baby allowing it to grow and develop.  It also carries away your baby’s waste products so your kidneys, liver, and lungs act for the baby until his/her organs are mature enough to do well on their own outside the womb (37-42 weeks pf pregnancy).

Cigarette smoke contains more than 2,500 chemicals. It is not known or certain which of these chemicals are harmful to a developing baby.  However, both Nicotine and Carbon Monoxide (the same gas released from a car’s exhaust) are believed to play a role in causing bad pregnancy outcomes.  These chemicals are taken directly from your lungs, to your blood, to your baby’s blood.  Imagine how theses chemicals affect the fragile tissues of your developing baby.

Here are some known complications from smoking during pregnancy:

  • Low birth weight:  Low birth weight can be caused by prematurity (birth less than 37 weeks), poor growth, or a combination of both.  Prematurity is increased in pregnant smokers and is the number one cause of neonatal death and chronic illness in babies.  Problems such as cerebral palsy, life-long lung, kidney, or other organ problems, mental retardation and learning disabilities are much more common in premature and low birth weight babies.
  • Placenta previa:  Low-lying placenta that covers part or all of the opening to the uterus.  Placenta previa blocks the exit of the baby from the uterus causing the baby and mother to bleed.
  • Placental abruption: The placenta tears away from the uterus causing the mother and baby to bleed.
  • Stillbirth
  • Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes: The water breaks before 37 weeks of pregnancy, which is associated with an increase of preterm and low birth weight births.
  • The effects smoking has on your baby continue when you take him/her home.  Children exposed to smoke in the home have higher levels of lung problems such as asthma, pneumonia, or bronchitis.  They also suffer from more ear infections than children not exposed to smoke.
  • Even more troubling is the increased incidence of SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS) found in children exposed to smoking in the home.  A child exposed to smoking in the home during the first few years of life are at an increased risk of developing asthma.  The March of Dimes recommends women stop smoking prior to becoming pregnant and remain smoke-free throughout pregnancy and once baby is born.
  • If a woman stops smoking by the end of her first trimester (first three months), she is no more likely to have a low birth weight baby than a woman who never smoked.  Even if a woman is not able to stop smoking during her first or second trimester, stopping during the third trimester (the last three months) can improve her baby’s growth.