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What should you eat during pregnancy?

A healthy diet during pregnancy is essential. The food you eat provides the building blocks for a strong, healthy baby. You'll require about 300 calories more per day above your normal caloric intake for the next nine months. The easiest way to accomplish this is to eat five or six small meals a day, especially if nausea, food aversions, heartburn or indigestion make eating a chore. Try to eat at least every four hours even if you're not hungry, your developing baby needs regular sustenance. Don't skip meals. Stay away from raw seafood such as oysters or sushi, unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses such as Camembert, pate, and raw or undercooked meat and poultry, as all these foods are possible sources of harmful bacteria. Limit your consumption of tuna and other cooked fish to about two servings per week as some fish contain methyl mercury, a metal believed to be harmful to the growing brains of foetuses.

And it is best to give up that after dinner cocktail. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause physical defects, learning disabilities, and emotional problems in children. Consider cutting back or skipping beverages containing caffeine, drinking more than four cups of coffee a day can lead to miscarriage, low birth weight, and even stillbirth. Caffeine lurks in teas, colas, other soft drinks, cocoa, and chocolate. Switch to decaffeinated brews and caffeine free sodas instead. Or better still; replace them with healthier choices such as milk, 100 percent fruit juice, or water with a twist of lemon.

Start taking a prenatal vitamin-mineral supplement and make sure it contains 600 to 800 micrograms of folic acid. You may need to take iron or calcium supplements later on in your pregnancy. And remember more is not necessarily better. Mega doses of vitamins and minerals could be harmful to your developing baby.

Don't diet while pregnant. Dieting is potentially hazardous since the design of many diet plans are more than likely to leave your body low on iron, folic acid, and other important vitamins and minerals. Weight gain is a positive sign of a healthy pregnancy.  If you began your pregnancy at a desirable weight, you should expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. If you're underweight, you can gain a bit more, between 28 to 40 pounds. If you start overweight, the goal should be gain a little less, from 15 to 25 pounds. Check with your obstetrician about gain if you happen to be short, less than 5' 2", are an adolescent, or are carrying more than one foetus.

Timing of the weight gain may be just as important as the total number of pounds. The least amount of weight gain should occur during the first trimester, about two to five pounds in total. You should slowly and steadily gain ending with the greatest number of pounds, approximately a pound a week, in the third trimester.
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