The most important time for good nutrition in any woman’s life is during their pregnancy and lactation.
During this time your dietary choices are for two, but that doesn’t mean eating twice as much. With an array of variables and very little choice of control over what happens when you are pregnant, putting the best diet together will help go a long way to improving energy levels, reducing mood swings and weight gain.
Also your food choices, timing of meals and overall nutritional quality have an effect upon your baby’s health as well as your labor and birth more than you may realize (moms online).
Good nutrition can help to prevent pre-eclampsia, toxemia, premature rupture of membranes, and to avoid disease- causing organisms such as Listeria (a bacteria found in dirt, contaminated processed foods, or foods packaged in unsanitary conditions), and Toxoplasma (a parasite found in undercooked meats, inadequately washed fruits and vegetables, and cat feces).
Guidelines for food choices during pregnancy in a check list style are:
4 serving from the milk, dairy, and alternative group
3-4 servings from the meat, fish, and alternative proteins group
3-5 servings from the vegetable group (especially dark greens, orange hues and potatoes)
2-4 servings from the fruit group (fresh or dried without sulfur)
6-9 servings from the whole grain group (hot or cold cereals, pita, pasta, couscous and brown rice)
Water to thirst but more than 64 ounces per day
Junk food- limit severely as poor nourishment and high calorie
Stave of hunger-and morning sickness- by eating small and often. Pack meals and drinks so you do not get stuck with the wrong options.
Special nutrient requirements
Calcium- Dairy products, legume, broccoli, almonds, figs, beans, Fortified juices
Iron- Fortified hot cereals, apricots, meats, prune juice, sardines, and beans
Folacin- Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, potatoes
Vitamin C- According to the British medical journal August addition 1999, Vitamin C plays an important role in early pregnancy with its association towards birth weight. So women suffering from morning sickness may find eating fruits rich in vitamin C such as cantaloupe, oranges, grapes, kiwi, papaya, and mango an enjoyable relief that also may double as an extra benefit for the baby.
Guidelines for food Safety during pregnancy (Mayo, 2000)
Meat, poultry and seafood should be cooked fully and eaten immediately, avoid those that are raw or undercooked like sushi and rare meats. Avoid cold ready-to eat seafood and processed deli meats including hot dogs unless they are heated to a point of steaming before eating. Avoid pate, raw eggs, and raw egg dishes as these may be harmful to the fetus.
Milk and dairy products should be pasteurized, and avoid raw milk products like unpasteurized milk cheeses such as soft cheeses, and blue-veined cheeses.
Wash all raw vegetables and fresh fruits thoroughly before eating, and choose pasteurized juices and ciders.
Major studies over the past decade have found no association between birth defects and the moderate use of caffeine. Moderate is determined to be a level less than 2 cups of coffee or 300 mg of caffeine per day. Caffeine is found in coffee (instant and drip), tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and cocoa.
As per common sense avoid smoking, herbal medication use, and alcohol consumption. Be sure to discuss with your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned about any other supplements, vitamins, or herbal medications you may be taking.
Tara Godfrey is a Nutritional Counsellor with the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management.