Nutritional Guidelines: Healthy Helpings

Fluids: Drink at least six to eight glasses of liquid a day. You need this extra fluid to feed your increased blood volume and for amniotic fluid. Drinking less won't stop pregnancy swelling. In fact, too little fluid can tax your kidneys, as they try to retain fluid to ensure your body is hydrated.

Sodium: Sodium helps to regulate the water in the body, which becomes more important during pregnancy. Shoot for 2,000 to 8,000 milligrams a day, keeping in mind that there are 2,325 milligrams of sodium in one teaspoon of salt. Because most foods contain salt, it's not too hard to reach the levels recommended during pregnancy.

Now that you know what to look for in your pregnancy meals, here are a few things to avoid:

  • In order to avoid exposure to mercury, do not eat swordfish, shark or fresh tuna. Go light on canned tuna.
  • Avoid fresh-water fish, as they are more likely to be contaminated with pesticides and carcinogens like dioxin or PCBs.
  • Don't drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or eat foods made from raw milk, such as unpasteurized cheese.
  • Avoid soft cheeses. This includes feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined and Mexican-style cheese.
  • Avoid foods from deli counters, and thoroughly reheat cold cuts before eating.
  • Limit caffeine. A daily cup of joe may not hurt, but don't get carried away.
  • Avoid alcohol, even in small amounts.
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