Babymaking? Preconception Diet for a Healthy Pregnancy

My husband and I want to start trying for a baby, so I've started taking prenatal vitamins and have completely kicked the caffeine habit. My biggest problem now is the fact that I work weird hours and just can't find the time to eat well. Also, I just don't like a lot of vegetables and fruits. What should I do?


Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

I think it is absolutely wonderful that you are taking steps to ensure that you and your baby will be healthy!

You are correct in your idea that developing healthful habits now will make it easier to be healthy during your pregnancy.

5 Tips to Help You Get the Nutrition You Need

1. Make sure you are at your optimal weight. You don't want to be underweight or overweight because that will affect how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. Check with your physician or gynecologist to see if you are at an appropriate weight

2. Eat a balanced diet. Try to eat a variety of what you like and try out one different food a week. This will help make sure you are getting a variety of nutrients that you need. Become familiar with the food guide pyramid and its recommendations:

  • Breads, cereals and grains: 6 to 11 servings
  • Vegetables: 3 to 5 servings
  • Fruits: 2 to 4 servings
  • Meat and nuts: 2 to 3 servings
  • Dairy: 2 to 3 servings
  • Fats, oils and sweets: use sparingly

3. Exercise. Incorporate this in your life on a regular basis. Even a half hour of exercise, three days a week, would be excellent. It could be a variety of things: walking, biking, aerobics, treadmill, etc. Also, doing a variety of things will help keep you from getting bored.

4. Target certain nutrients. There are certain nutrients that you and your baby will need to ensure that she will develop normally and that you won't develop any deficiencies during your pregnancy.

  • Folate. Also known as folic acid, this vitamin is important to your baby during the first few months of the pregnancy. It is important in the development of the baby's brain and spinal cord. Good sources are fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits (oranges and grapefruit, for example) I would recommend that you try to have one green leafy vegetable and one citrus fruit in your diet every day. Also, your prenatal vitamins should have, at least, the minimum requirement for folate, which is 400 mg.
  • Calcium. This is very important for the development of the baby's bones and to keep your bones healthy during the pregnancy by preventing the development of a deficiency. I would recommend that you have three servings of dairy a day, and during your pregnancy, have three to four servings a day. The prenatal vitamins that I have seen don't have much calcium in them, so it is very important that you get it through your food.
  • Iron: When your baby will be developing, she will need iron and will take it at your expense. If you do not take in enough iron, you may develop anemia. Good sources of iron are green leafy vegetables, beans, red meat and fortified cereals. This is another good reason to have a green leafy vegetable every day. However, red meat is the best source because our bodies can use the iron found in it the best.
  • Fiber: This is very important, because during pregnancy women tend to become constipated. You should probably have 30 to 35 grams a day. If you are not used to having this much fiber in your diet, you may experience some gas, but this will pass with time as your body adjusts. Some good sources of fiber are unrefined grains, such as whole wheat, beans, fruits and vegetables.

5. Pack your meals (and snacks). With your busy lifestyle this will help you get the nutrients you need. You could bring along grapes, carrot sticks, celery with peanut butter, raisins, crackers and cheese (processed cheeses and cheese spreads don't count) and sandwiches with some vegetables in them.

Again, I think it is just wonderful you want to make sure that your baby is healthy and that you are healthy for your baby.


Watch Video: Getting ready for pregnancy

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