For everyone, a nutritious and well-balanced diet is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But for pregnant women, nutrition is doubly important – it’s a key factor for their own health and that of their baby.
“Pregnant women should eat three meals a day and between-meal snacks,” said Dr. Nina Ali, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Meals should include foods from all five food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy.”
Ali advises women to be mindful of their diet choices and to drink plenty of water to help curb the out-of-control cravings.
“Try to choose food with nutritional value and allow yourself to indulge in small quantities,” said Ali.
Cravings are hard to avoid while pregnant. However, Ali recommends that pregnant woman avoid specific foods altogether.
Women should not consume unpasteurized milk, hot dogs, lunch meats and cold cuts (unless they are heated to steaming hot), raw or undercooked seafood, eggs and meat, fish with high mercury content such as swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish, said Ali.
Nutrition choices also can play a role in minimizing morning sickness that many women experience during pregnancy, she said.
“Ginger candy and ginger tea can be soothing for nausea,” Ali said. “Eat small snacks throughout the day rather than large meals, and avoid heavy or spicy foods. When these measures do not help, talk to your ob-gyn doctor about nausea medications.”
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet while pregnant, Ali recommends women continue to manage a balanced diet after giving birth.
“A healthy, well-balanced diet is an essential part of the mother’s recovery after giving birth,” said Ali. “Also for moms who are breast-feeding, caloric demands and nutrition needs are even higher than while pregnant. I recommend moms continue prenatal vitamins for 6 weeks or as long as they continue breastfeeding.”
During and after pregnancy it is essential to eat nutritious meals and be mindful of good dietary choices.
“A well balanced diet will give your body the building blocks it needs to maintain good health for you and for your baby,” said Ali.