How do I ensure a healthy pregnancy? You can have a healthy pregnancy by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet augmented with the right supplements for baby and maternal health, making sure exercise is part of your weekly routine, and maintaining a healthy weight.
When you find out you’re pregnant, every day seems to bring new questions. Among the most important is, “How do I ensure a healthy pregnancy?”
You can have a healthy pregnancy by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet augmented with the right supplements for baby and maternal health, making sure exercise is part of your weekly routine, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Folic acid is a B vitamin essential in the formation of your baby’s spine, brain, and skull. Good sources of folic acid include dark green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts), corn, peas, beans, lentils, and oranges. The recommended intake during pregnancy is 0.6 mg per day. Take folic acid before you get pregnant and in the first trimester to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
Calcium and vitamin D help maintain bone health in all stages of life. For pregnant and lactating women, 1,500 mg of calcium and 200 IU of vitamin D per day help strengthen both maternal and fetal bones and improve production of breast milk. Good food sources include green leafy vegetables, almonds, Brazil nuts, and dairy products.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for baby’s eye and brain health. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include more mature sleep behaviour in newborns, increase in visual and sound discrimination, and protection against some allergic diseases. For pregnant women aged 19 to 24 the recommended minimum intake of omega-3 during the second and third trimester is 1.36 g per day. For women aged 25 to 49, a slightly lower dose of 1.26 g per day is suggested. The best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish, such as herring, mackerel, sardines, and salmon.
The Weight Question
A common question among pregnant women is, “How much weight should I gain?” The current recommendation for weight gain depends on your pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI). To calculate your BMI, see nhlbisupport.com/bmi.
During your first trimester, you’ll need about 100 extra calories each day to support the growth of your baby. In the second and third trimesters, you’ll need about 300 extra calories per day. If you are expecting twins or triplets, you will need to gain more weight, depending on the number of babies you are carrying. Your health care provider will be able to advise you.
You should always seek the recommendation of your health care provider before you start an exercise program. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a healthy pregnant woman can safely incorporate 30 minutes of moderate exercise–walking, stationary cycling, low-impact aerobics, and swimming–most days of the week. Contact sports should be avoided. Wear loose fitting clothes to allow for proper ventilation.
Foods to Forgo
Some foods are not recommended during pregnancy because they contain harmful bacteria that can negatively affect the fetus:
- soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as feta, goat, brie, Camembert, and blue
- unpasteurized milk, juices, and apple cider
- raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs, including mousse, tiramisu, raw cookie dough, homemade ice cream, and Caesar salad dressing
- raw or undercooked meats, fish (sushi), or shellfish
- processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meats
- raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts
Make healthy choices for yourself and for your baby throughout your pregnancy and give your baby the best possible start in life.
Healthy Weight Gain
|Recommended weight gain (lbs/kg)
|Low (under 19.8)
|28-40 (13-18 kg)
|25-35 (11-16 kg)
|High (over 26)
|5-25 (7-11 kg)