Diet Tips for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

Pregnant woman

If you are pregnant or even just thinking about it, now is the time to begin caring for your unborn baby. Doing so involves caring for your own health both before and during pregnancy. It also involves learning about important pregnancy topics and milestones. Taking these steps will help you to have a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby. Also, knowing what to expect will help to ease any worries you might have so you can enjoy this exciting time.

Eat a variety of healthy foods and drink plenty of water during pregnancy. Pregnant women need more protein, iron, calcium, folic acid, and fluids than at other times.

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. 

FishThey are a great source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids for people of all ages. The nutrients in seafood are important for unborn babies, as well as for infants and young children. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids eaten by pregnant women may aid in babies’ brain and eye development. Also, some researchers believe depression in women during and after pregnancy may be related to not eating enough fish.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week to get the health benefits. Unfortunately, some pregnant and nursing women do not eat any fish because they worry about mercury in seafood. Mercury is a metal that, at high levels, can harm the brain of your unborn baby even before he or she is conceived. Yet many types of seafood have little or no mercury at all. So your risk of mercury exposure depends on the amount and type of seafood you eat.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can safely eat a large variety of cooked seafood, but should not eat a few kinds of fish that contain high levels of mercury. Keep in mind that removing all fish from your diet will rob both you and your baby of all the nutritional benefits that seafood provides, including important omega-3 fatty acids.

To reach the recommended amount of 8 to 12 ounces per week while limiting exposure to mercury, follow these tips: Eat a variety of cooked* seafood that contains little or no mercury, such as these types that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids:
• Salmon
• Anchovies
• Herring
• Sardines
• Pacific oysters
• Trout
• Atlantic and Pacific mackerel (not King mackerel)

NOTE: Don’t eat uncooked fish or shellfish (such as clams, oysters, scallops), which includes refrigerated uncooked seafood labeled nova-style, lox, kippered, smoked, or jerky. Uncooked seafood may contain bacteria that are harmful during pregnancy.

In addition to making healthy food choices, ask your doctor about taking a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement every day to be sure you are getting enough of the nutrients your baby needs. You also can check the label on the foods you buy to see how much of a certain nutrient the product contains. Women who are pregnant need more of these nutrients than women who are not pregnant.
At times it is challenging to stick to your new eating plan—especially when you want to down a whole quart of ice cream—but you will be extremely pleased with how everything will turn out! You will even learn a lot about disciplining yourself to eat healthier!

On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional.
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