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Top Tips for Pregnancy Nutrition

Which vitamins and nutrients are key to your baby's health?

Multivitamins Have Multiple Effects During Pregnancy

Multivitamins do more than supply the necessary folic acid for growing babies, according to a population study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh.

Researchers there found that women in early pregnancy who took a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin regularly reduced their risk of preeclampsia by 45%. Preeclampsia, which causes elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine, is a leading cause of premature delivery and fetal death.

Despite the benefits, you may find swallowing pregnancy supplements difficult. The pills are often large, and they contain high doses of iron that can irritate your stomach and cause constipation.

"If you find yourself having trouble taking prenatal vitamins or you're having unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor about other, safe options," advises Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality.

And always tell your doctor or midwife about all the dietary supplements you take, including herbal remedies.

Make Calories Count During Pregnancy

During the first few months of pregnancy, you may not notice a big weight gain.

Some women may even lose weight during the first trimester of pregnancy because of queasiness that prevents them from eating and drinking normally. Tell your doctor if you experience persistent vomiting or nausea – you may become dehydrated. So-called morning sickness can last for the entire pregnancy, but it typically starts to dissipate after about 13 weeks.

As your baby begins growing, you'll need to make sure your extra calories are nutritionally rich. Pregnancy is not a license to overeat, however. A pregnant woman only needs an additional 300 calories a day. "Three hundred calories sounds like a lot, but it's about the amount in two large apples," Somer says.

Of course, it's OK to splurge on a hot fudge sundae on indulge pregnancy food cravings from time to time. On a daily basis, here's how to make those 300 additional calories matter most:

  • 16 ounces 1% low fat milk
  • 2 slices bread; 2 ounces chicken; 1 teaspoon reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 8 ounce vanilla non-fat yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup fruit and 1 ounce whole grain crunchy cereal

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