You’re having a baby! Your entire life is about to change…

Along with these changes, you must watch what you eat. Here are some tips about dieting for pregnant women.

It is crucial that you maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy as your immune system is reduced thus placing both you and your baby at greater risk for food borne illnesses that can result for bacteria, parasites, and viruses. These can lead to severe health issues for your baby, or in worst cases, even death. You want to ensure that you are not only eating the proper foods, but handling them and preparing them safely as well.

Healthy Weight Gain

Weight gain is unavoidable during pregnancy. You are eating for two after all, right? The healthy average weight gain for pregnant women during the first trimester is 2-4 lbs total while 3-4 lbs per month during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. You will need an average of about 300 more calories daily than you did before conception. However, you want to make sure these are healthy calories and not just “empty” calories like candy, soda, and doughnuts.

 What You SHOULD Be Eating:

Fruits and Veggies: Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits will certainly assure that both you and your baby are getting the proper amount of healthy vitamins and nutrients. It will also help your baby to develop a taste for those fruits and vegetables later in life.

Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, Swiss chard and spinach are also high in vitamin A, C and K, as well as folate, so be sure to include these in your daily regimen as well.

Beans: Beans are an excellent source of fiber. You should incorporate black beans, pinto beans, lentils, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), pinto and kidney beans and white beans into your diet. They also contain key nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc and folate. You can add beans to various chilies and soups as well as salads and pasta dishes.

Lean Proteins: You should include lean proteins such as lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and fish. And make sure that you are properly handling them and preparing them to avoid any food borne illness.

Whole Grains: Enriched whole grains such as oats, whole grain bread and pasta, and brown and wild rice are high in iron and folic acid, as well as a good source of fiber. It is important to eat a lot of fiber to keep you regular and help prevent hemorrhoids during pregnancy.

Dairy: Milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs contain calcium and Vitamin D, which are crucial during pregnancy as they are essential in bone development for your baby.

Low fat yogurt is a high source of protein, does not have the added sugar of flavored yogurts. Greek Yogurt has twice the calcium of regular yogurt. Add granola, fruit, or nuts to granola to give it more flavor as well as extra nutrients.

Eggs contain over 12 minerals and vitamins and are a high source of protein.

They are also rich in chlorine, and some eggs, such as brown eggs, contain Omega-3 fats, which are both crucial for brain and vision development.

What NOT TO Eat

Unpasteurized Dairy: Not all dairy products are safe during pregnancy. You should avoid raw milk and other raw dairy products at all costs. You should always read labels so make sure that your dairy products have been pasteurized. Pasteurization kills bacteria’s such as Listeria. Soft cheeses such as blue cheese, brie and feta are often unpasteurized and therefore should be avoided.

Processed Meats: Similar to unpasteurized dairy, processed meats (or “lunch meats”) such as turkey, bologna, salami, and ham can contain high amounts of Listeria.

Raw Seafood and fish that contains mercury:  Mercury can cause developmental delays and brain-damage when consumed during pregnancy so you will want to avoid seafood high in mercury such as: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, as well as certain types of fish used in sushi. As it is also unsafe to consume raw fish during pregnancy, you might want to avoid sushi altogether while you are pregnant.

Alcohol: Alcohol has been linked to deformities, miscarriages, and stillbirth while consumed during pregnancy. It can also lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes facial deformities, mental retardation and even heart defects. It is best to avoid any alcohol consumption during the entire duration of your pregnancy.

Caffeine: There have been some discrepancies as to whether or not caffeine intake has any effect during pregnancy. Recent studies indicate that high doses of caffeine may be somehow related to miscarriages and should be completely avoided, especially during the first trimester. If you must have that cup of coffee, you can limit your intake to one cup per day, and also keep in mind that sodas and energy drinks also contain high amounts of caffeine, as does chocolate, so you want to limit those as well.

Raw or Undercooked Eggs: While eggs are an excellent source of protein, they can be extremely harmful if undercooked, especially during pregnancy. Raw eggs also must be avoided and can surprisingly be found in items such as Caesar salad dressing, eggnog, ice cream, hollandaise sauce and mayonnaise. As previously stated check your labels or take the time to look up ingredients online. Your health, as well as your baby’s, may be at stake.

These are just a few suggestions for a healthy diet for pregnant women. You definitely want to sit down and have an in-depth discussion with your OB/GYN and perhaps even consult a nutritionist. It is also imperative that you make sure that you are taking any prenatal vitamins prescribed by your physician. It is also important that you drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, as it prevents dehydration, which can trigger nausea, vertigo, cramping, headaches and constipation. It is especially crucial to stay properly hydrated during your third trimester as dehydration can trigger early labor.

Eating healthy isn’t that difficult. Theoretically, we should always maintain a healthy diet, but it is essential for the health of you and your unborn child that you follow a healthy diet while expecting. These tips for a healthy diet for pregnant women should get you started.