Eating for two? Read these nutrition recommendations
Healthy eating can be challenging, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
But when you’re eating for two – and surrounded by well-intentioned loved ones, acquaintances and strangers armed with old wives’ tales and unsolicited advice about food – second-guessing and stressing over what and how much you eat can become a source of unneeded anxiety for some expectant mothers.
“Every mother wants to have a healthy, happy baby,” says Advocate Clinical Nurse Specialist MaryAnn Neumann, an OB/GYN nurse at the Advocate Trinity Hospital Birthing Center in Chicago. “Fortunately, her diet several months before, during and after pregnancy, if breastfeeding, can have a significant impact on her baby’s health at birth and later in life.”
Neumann says the rule of thumb for pregnant mothers is to eat a well-rounded diet with plenty of whole fruits and vegetables. Mothers-to-be should also stay away from the fruits and vegetables most susceptible to pesticides, heavily processed foods and fish that typically contain high levels of mercury.
Yet, the single, most important step any mother-to-be can take to ensure proper nutrition for herself and her growing baby is taking a prenatal multivitamin, every day.
“Eating a healthy diet and taking a daily multivitamin formulated especially for pregnant women are the best things you can do to get the right amount of nutrients needed for your baby’s healthy development and for your health,” Neumann says.
Prenatal vitamin ingredients such as folic acid, iron, iodine and calcium are especially important for preventing birth defects and for baby’s brain development. The nutrients in pregnancy vitamins also help maintain mother’s bone density, blood oxygen levels and thyroid function. Although these nutrients are also found in foods, it is difficult to ingest and absorb them at the recommended levels, Neumann explains.
Prenatal vitamins are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Neumann recommends speaking with your obstetrician to determine which is right for you before conceiving or at the beginning of your pregnancy.
About the Author
Cassie Richardson, health enews contributor, is regional coordinator on Advocate Aurora Health's Public Affairs team. She has more than 10 years of experience in health care communications, marketing, media and public relations. Cassie is a fan of musical theater and movies. When she’s not spreading the word about health and wellness advancements, she enjoys writing fiction.