What to Eat and Not Eat During Pregnancy

Eating right while you’re pregnant is one of the best gifts you can give your baby. Certain nutrients in foods can help your baby grow strong and healthy.

It’s also important to avoid certain types of foods while you’re expecting, because eating them may lead to health problems for you and your baby.

To help you have the healthiest possible pregnancy, your care providers at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati would like to share these important guidelines about pregnancy nutrition.

Eat the right amount of food

During pregnancy it’s best to gain the right amount of weight – not too much and not too little. Try to eat an amount of food that will help you meet your goals. Ask your provider if you aren’t sure how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.

Choose lean proteins

Protein-rich foods such as lean meat, poultry, nuts and nut butters, legumes, dairy, and soy help build your baby’s tissues and organs and help you maintain healthy blood.

Get enough calcium

Calcium, which is found in dairy foods (and some vegetables), helps build your baby’s bones and teeth and keeps your bones strong as well. Vitamin D in dairy foods helps your body absorb calcium.

Eat fish with care

Some types of fish contain unsafe levels of mercury, which can be harmful to your baby. Pregnant women should avoid eating tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel, and limit white (albacore) tuna to six ounces per week.

Low-mercury fish include shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, and canned light tuna.

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain many different nutrients that are good for you and your baby. They also contains fiber, which can help keep you regular. Be sure to wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating.

Select foods with folate/folic acid

This B vitamin helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects. In addition to taking a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, eat folate-rich foods, such as dark leafy greens and dried beans.

Don’t go overboard with caffeine

It can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, and it may raise risk of miscarriage. If you’re pregnant, limit caffeine to 200 milligrams each day, which is about the amount you get in about 12 ounces of coffee.

Eat iron-rich foods

Your body needs iron to build healthy blood. High-iron foods include red meat, poultry, fish, fortified cereals, spinach, some leafy greens, and beans.

Avoid certain raw or undercooked foods

Raw or undercooked beef, poultry, pork, seafood can contain dangerous bacteria, so be sure to cook these foods thoroughly before eating. Deli, luncheon meats and hot dogs should be reheated if consumed. You should also avoid refrigerated pates, smoked seafoods, or meat spreads.

Other foods to avoid include because of the risk of bacteria include raw or lightly cooked eggs (or foods that contain them, such as raw cookie dough or cake batter) or soft-scrambled eggs.

Stay away from unpasteurized foods

You and your baby can be harmed by illness caused by bacteria in unpasteurized foods such as unpasteurized juices, milk, or soft cheeses such as brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela.

Wash your hands before handling food

To protect yourself and your baby from food poisoning, wash your hands before and after handling food, using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling animals.

Learn more about pregnancy nutrition

Your care providers at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, can help you have a healthy pregnancy. If you have questions about what to eat, what not to eat, or anything else involving pregnancy, fertility, or women’s health issues, call our office for an appointment today.  

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