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MissouriFamilies.org - Food and Fitness

 

Feature Articles: Eating Well, Dietary Guidelines for Americans

 

Nutrition for women:

Special considerations and recommendations before, during and after pregnancy

Greta Hopke, RD and Candance Gabel, MS, RD, LD, Associate State Nutrition Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

 

Pregnant woman drinking orange juiceTo have a healthy baby, your plan of action should include good nutrition before, during and after pregnancy. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans include recommendations that can help women consume adequate nutrients, limit possible toxins and be physically active.

 

Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant
 

  • For adequate iron intake, eat food high in heme-iron (such as meats) and/or consume iron-rich plant foods (such as spinach) or iron-fortified foods. To help increase the absorption of iron from plant sources and iron-fortified foods, pair those foods with ones high in vitamin C.
     
  • To decrease the risk of birth defects, consume 400 μg (micrograms) of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements daily in addition to eating foods that naturally contain folate.
     
  • Limit fish consumption to two servings per week to avoid high levels of mercury. Include fish or shellfish that is low in mercury, such as shrimp, light canned tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.
     
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
     

Pregnant women
 

  • To decrease the risk of birth defects, consume 600 μg per day of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements in addition to consuming foods that naturally contain folate.
     
  • If no medical or obstetric complications are present, participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.
     
  • Avoid physical activity that has a high risk of falling or abdominal trauma.
     
  • Limit fish consumption to two servings per week to avoid high levels of mercury. Include fish or shellfish that is low in mercury, such as shrimp, light canned tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.
     
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
     
  • Avoid eating or drinking:
     
    • unpasteurized milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk
    • raw or partially cooked eggs, or foods that contain raw eggs
    • raw or undercooked meat and poultry
    • raw or undercooked fish or shellfish
    • unpasteurized juices
    • raw sprouts
       
  • Eat certain deli meats and hot dogs/frankfurters only if they have been reheated to steaming hot.
     

Breastfeeding women
 

  • If you need to lose weight, moderate weight reduction is safe and does not compromise weight gain for your nursing infant.
     
  • Regular exercise does not negatively affect the mother's ability to breastfeed successfully.
     
  • Limit fish consumption to two servings per week to avoid high levels of mercury. Include fish or shellfish that is low in mercury, such as shrimp, light canned tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.
     
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
     

 

Adapted from Dietary Guidelines for Americans, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, January 2005.

 


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