Smart nutritional choices can help make sure that you and your baby start out with the nutrients you both need. You need to make changes during pregnancy to get the extra calories. The key to good nutrition is balance.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts during Pregnancy
These foods provide B vitamins, protein, iron and zinc. One serving equals 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish. For the other foods in this group, one ounce of lean meat equals Ã‚Â½ cup of cooked dry beans, one egg or two tablespoons of peanut butter.
Milk, Yogurt and Cheese during Pregnancy
This group is a major source of protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins. One serving equals one cup of milk or yogurt, 1Ã‚Â½ ounces of natural cheese, or two ounces of processed cheese. Whenever possible, choose items that are made with low–fat, part–skim or skim milk. If you don't like milk or are lactose–intolerant, modified–milk products are available at your supermarket. These include yogurt–milk in cultured form and low–lactose substitutes. If you feel that you are not getting enough milk products, you should talk to your doctor about other sources of calcium.
Fruits during Pregnancy
This group provides vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber. One serving equals one medium apple, banana or orange, Ã‚Â½ cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit, or one 6–ounce cup of fruit juice. Good sources of vitamin C include berries, citrus fruits or juices, melon and other fruits. Also good are dried fruits such as raisins and prunes.
Vegetables during Pregnancy
These foods contain vitamins A and C, folate, and minerals such as iron and magnesium. They are also low in fat and contain fiber, which helps to alleviate constipation. One serving equals one cup of raw, leafy vegetables (spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli), Ã‚Â½ cup of other cooked or raw vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, potatoes), or Ã‚Â¾ cup of vegetable juice.
Breads, Cereals, Rice and Pastas during Pregnancy
This group provides complex carbohydrates (starches), an important source of energy, in addition to vitamins, minerals and fiber. One serving equals one slice of bread, one ounce of cereal, or Ã‚Â½ cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta. Try to choose from whole–grain products and foods made with less sugar.
Fats, Oils and Sweets during Pregnancy
Use sparingly, since these products contain calories, but few vitamins or minerals. Fats should not make up more than 30 percent of your daily calories. Try to select low–fat foods.
Iron–Rich Foods during Pregnancy
Since many women are slightly anemic (from monthly blood loss, improper diet or previous pregnancies), you may want to fortify your iron levels even before becoming pregnant with such foods as meat, raisins and prunes or beans, soy products, spinach and cream of wheat. During pregnancy, the daily requirement of iron doubles from 15 mg to 30 mg as blood volume increases and to help the developing fetus. Your body is better able to absorb iron when consumed with foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, potatoes and broccoli.
Folic Acid during Pregnancy
Research suggests that folic acid supplementation during the weeks leading up to and following conception may help prevent neural tube defects. Foods rich in folic acid include liver, deep green leafy vegetable.