What to Eat During the Early Stages of Pregnancy

In the early stages of pregnancy, with your baby the size of a pea, does it matter what you eat?

Absolutely, doctors say. It's important to watch what you eat during the early stages of pregnancy, both for the baby's health and well-being and for your own health and wellness.

From the very beginning of your pregnancy, everything you ingest is delivered to your baby through the placenta. Good nutrition is important to giving your baby the best start in life.

How to Eat During the Early Stages of Pregnancy
Experts suggest that you set good nutrition habits as soon as you know you're pregnant. General good nutrition will set the stage for restrictions in later stages.

Eat smaller meals more frequently, instead of the traditional three large meals a day. Medical experts suggest eating a small meal every four hours, whether you're hungry or not. Don't skip meals and if you're not hungry, eat a light meal anyway. Your developing baby needs sustenance.

In between meals, snack on high-protein, high-fiber snacks like vegetables, whole-grain breads, cheese, yogurt and granola.

Pregnancy is no time to try to lose weight, and fad diets are an absolute no-no. Many weight-loss programs leave you lacking in important vitamins and minerals, which can be dangerous for your baby.

Gradually gaining weight is the norm in pregnancy. You need about 300 additional calories per day when pregnant. In general your goal should be to gain between 25 and 40 pounds while pregnant, but in the first trimester, you should plan to gain about 2-5 pounds total.

What to Eat During the Early Stages of Pregnancy
Experts suggest that pregnant women increase their intake of protein, iron, folic acid and overall calorie totals.

Pregnant moms-to-be should be sure to take a prenatal vitamin-mineral supplement.  If morning sickness and pregnancy-driven aversions to foods have you wondering if you're getting everything that you and your baby need, vitamin supplements will see to it that you're covered.

But don't overdose on vitamins. Too much of a good thing can be harmful to your baby.

Strict vegetarians and women with conditions such as diabetes or anemia should talk to their doctors about additional supplements that they may need.

In the first trimester, pregnant women should be sure to eat:

  • Red meat, liver, dried beans, fruit and cereals for iron.
  • Broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, green pepper, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and melons for Vitamin C.
  • Dark green lettuce, green peas, green beans, broccoli, dried peas and beans, oranges and melons for folic acid.
  • Fortified milk for Vitamin D.

What Not to Eat During the Early Stages of Pregnancy
Avoid junk food. It's empty calories, and you need all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you can get.

Steer clear of raw seafood such as oysters and sushi, as well as unpasteurized milk and all soft cheeses, such as brie, feta and camembert. Also avoid pate, uncooked eggs, and raw or undercooked meat and poultry. Limit your consumption of tuna and other fish to 12 ounces per week.

Don't drink alcohol and cut back on how much caffeine you're drinking to no more than 4 cups per day.

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