Not eating right during pregnancy can greatly hamper fetal growth in your future child, according to the Mayo Clinic and the American Pregnancy Association. Moms who don’t gain enough weight during pregnancy are at risk of delivering underweight babies that aren’t fully developed to their potential. Eating the right foods and staying close to prenatal vitamins as well as medical care can help ensure your baby meets his fetal growth potential.
Prevention of Fetal Growth Problems
Not all fetal growth problems can be eliminated, but you can greatly reduce the risk of delivering a child with birth defects with your pregnancy diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mothers who don’t eat enough vegetables or take enough supplements with folic acid have a greatly increased risk of delivering babies with neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
Recommended Weight Gain
Most expectant moms can safely gain about 25 to 37 lbs, according to the American Pregnancy Association. However, mothers who were significantly overweight before pregnancy might need to gain less weight; a safe figure is about 11 to 20 lbs, depending upon the pre-pregnancy weight.
Essential Food Types
During pregnancy, you should eat about 300 extra calories a day of nutritious food, according to the March of Dimes. Including whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat milk products will not only help your baby’s growth but also make it easier for you to take off that extra weight after delivery.
Meal Time Frames
You and baby will likely feel better when you eat four to six smaller meals each day rather than the traditional three large meals, according to the March of Dimes. Eating a little bit before starting your day is also a great way to reduce or even eliminate that “morning sickness” commonly associated with early pregnancy.
Some food and drinks can seriously harm your baby’s growth and well-being during pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes. You cannot safely drink any amount of alcohol; also you must avoid anything raw, undercooked or unpasteurized. Expectant moms must be especially careful to cook eggs and meat well and avoid soft cheeses such as Brie or queso blanco. Also, while you should eat some fish each week, you need to avoid high-mercury fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Finally, if you crave coffee grounds, clay or other inedible substances during pregnancy, call your doctor immediately.
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