Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is good for both the mother and her baby. The following resources from ChooseMyPlate.gov offer guidance on nutritional needs, foods to eat, and foods to avoid for a safe and healthy pregnancy. Expectant mothers, health managers, nurses, and other health care providers may find this information useful to help increase awareness of healthy eating habits during pregnancy.
Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, you have a higher need for some vitamins and minerals. You can create your own nutritional plan with the ChooseMyPlate.gov Super Tracker to meet most of these increased needs.
In each food group, choose foods that have the vitamins and minerals you need. Select this link to see the best sources of these vitamins and minerals. Choose these foods often to make sure you meet your nutrient needs while you are pregnant.
Also make choices that are low in "extras." Extras are added sugars and solid fats in foods like soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, cheese, whole milk, and fatty meats. View the website.
Food Safety for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
When you are pregnant, your ability to fight off infection is lower than usual. In addition, your unborn baby's immune system is not fully developed. This means both you and your baby have a greater chance of getting sick from eating unsafe food. This is called "foodborne illness."
If you get a foodborne illness, the effects may be worse than if you were not pregnant. Some foodborne illnesses may cause a woman to have a miscarriage or premature delivery, or cause the newborn baby to die. They may also result in serious health problems for the baby after birth.
To protect your health and your baby's health, you need to be especially careful about food safety while you are pregnant.
There are three main dangers lurking in the food pregnant women eat. They are:
Listeria – a dangerous bacterium that can grow even in cold refrigerators.
Mercury – a harmful metal found in high levels in some fish.
Toxoplasma – a risky parasite found in undercooked meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables.
These things can cause serious illness or even death to you or your unborn baby.
Fish Facts for Nursing and Pregnant Moms and Women Who May Become Pregnant
Fish and shellfish can be an important part of a healthy diet. They are a great source of protein and heart—healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
But almost all fish and shellfish contain some mercury. Mercury is a metal that can harm the brain of your unborn baby—even before it is conceived. Mercury mainly gets into our bodies by the fish we eat. Only high levels of this metal seem to be harmful to developing babies. So the risk of mercury in fish and shellfish depends on the amount and type you eat.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Early Childhood Health and Wellness
Last Updated: April 29, 2019