What To Eat Now To Better Your Baby’S Health

You are what you eat. That’s old news. So is the fact that your diet during pregnancy affects your newborn’s health. But the new news is what you eat in the next nine months can impact your baby’s health — as well as your own — for decades to come. Here are 10 easy nutrition rules from FitPregnancy that will benefit you both.

Eating healthy while pregnant

Get enough folic acid

Ideally, you need 400 micrograms of this B vitamin daily before conceiving. Because sufficient intake in the first trimester reduces neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by 50 percent to 70 percent, you should increase the dose to 600 micrograms when pregnancy is confirmed. Recent research suggests supplementing with folic acid for a year before pregnancy and in the second trimester may also reduce the risk of preterm delivery.

Don't "eat for two"

As many as half of women gain too much weight during pregnancy. The upshot: an increased risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and delivery of either a preterm or a too-large baby. Talk to your doctor and go to fitpregnancy.com/weightgain.

Eat your fish

Getting enough DHA (found in abundance in seafood and flaxseed) is one of the most important things you can do for your developing baby’s health — and yours, nutritionists say. DHA is the omega-3 fatty acid that can boost your baby’s brain development before birth — leading to better vision, memory, motor skills and language comprehension in early childhood. Eat at least 12 ounces a week of low-mercury fish or take a DHA supplement (both are safe). For more information and a list of safe fish, go to fitpregnancy.com/mercuryrising.

Avoid alcohol

Behavior problems, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and aggressive behavior in children can result when mom drinks during pregnancy. No amount of alcohol has been shown to be safe.

Get adequate iron

During pregnancy, your iron needs nearly double — to about 30 milligrams per day — to support your
50 percent increase in blood volume and promote fetal iron storage. Iron transports oxygen, and your baby benefits from a healthy supply. To boost absorption, combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C. For example, load your chicken burrito with salsa.

Ban bacteria

To protect your baby from harmful bacteria such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli (any of which can, in severe cases, cause miscarriage or preterm delivery), steer clear of soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, as well as raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Keep your fridge below 40 degrees F, and dump leftover food that’s been sitting out for more than two hours.

Click here for rules 7 – 10 (hint: one involves caffeine). And for scrumptious recipes good for you and your baby, visit fitpregnancy.com/recipes.

>> Suzanne Schlosberg is the co-author of The Essential Breastfeeding Log (Ballantine).

More on pregnancy nutrition

Eating fish during pregnancy may help mood
10 Foods every pregnant woman should eat
Is cheese safe to eat during pregnancy?


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