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Ulcerative Colitis Health Center

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Eat Well for a Healthy Pregnancy With UC

How to Get Calcium continued...

Either way, your body needs foods high in calcium, especially during pregnancy. Some options include:

  • Yogurt or hard cheeses, which might be easier to digest
  • Juices, other drinks, cereals, and breads with added calcium
  • Tofu, soybeans, black-eyed peas, or canned fish with edible bones (such as sardines or salmon)
  • Milk -- drink it with a meal or add it to cereal to make it easier on your system.

If you need to be lactose-free, try:

  • Lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified soy milk
  • Lactase pills or drops

Healthy Fats From Fish

Fish is a great way to get omega-3 fatty acids, which help build your baby's brain and eyes. They may also cut down on UC symptoms and prevent flares. Some fish are high in mercury, but pregnant women can safely eat fish by following these guidelines.

  • Have up to 12 ounces a week of low-mercury fish such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, and catfish.
  • Don't eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, which tend to be higher in mercury.
  • Limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces weekly.

Supplement Your Diet

UC means your body can’t absorb some key vitamins and minerals from your food. Your doctor might recommend extra supplements with your prenatal vitamins.

  • If you're taking the drug sulfasalazine, you may need more folic acid than what’s already recommended for pregnant women.
  • Steroids can lower calcium levels, so you may need a calcium supplement with vitamin D.
  • You may need iron to prevent anemia.

Maintain Healthy Weight Gain

Sometimes women with UC struggle to gain enough weight. That means their babies could be born with low birth weight, which can cause health problems.

If you're at a healthy weight, you should put on 25 to 35 pounds by the end of your pregnancy. If you're underweight to start, you should aim for 28 to 40 pounds.

Your OB-GYN should let you know how you're doing with your weight. If you need help, talk to a dietitian about healthy calorie choices.

Keep up with your UC doctor during your pregnancy, too. It’s important to communicate with both doctors to ensure you and your baby stay healthy. Also, you may need to see an OB who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on November 10, 2014
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