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Food & Nutrition for the Expectant Mom

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

First & Foremost: If you are pregnant you should be taking your prenatal vitamin daily. It is widely held that the folic acid contained therein is instrumental in reducing the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida. There are a few brands of prenatal vitamins, including generic, available. While they generally contain the same essential ingredients (consult your pharmacist), some women have trouble digesting certain brands- this may be due a difference in the coating of the pill. If you experience some difficulty- consult with your physician who may suggest trying a different brand or to simply take folic acid rater than the whole prenatal vitamin.

If you are taking any other medication or supplements on a regular basis, you should discuss them with your doctor to ascertain whether or not these are safe during pregnancy.

While pregnant, as always, it is important to maintain a balanced diet. It is important to remember that making healthy food choices while you are pregnant helps to encourage baby’s healthy development as well as helps you to feel & look better. If you are hungry, eat. Don’t feel badly about it- and there is no reason to, especially if you are making healthy choices. One thing to be sure of is that pregnancy is not the time to be on any weight loss program & neither is the time during which you may be breastfeeding. (Weight Watchers actually offers a program for breastfeeding moms- as always it is best to consult a medical professional before beginning any new weight loss program)

On the flipside of watching what we eat, at least for the first couple of months, many women find they have a loss of appetite. Morning sickness (which does not always happen in the morning) can have a serious impact on appetite. Even if you are feeling queasy or unwell, it is important to get the nutrition that your body (& your baby) require. The Canada Food Guide is always a great place to look to for guidance as far as what are the right choices, portions, etc.

What to eat, What not to eat.

As stated above, it’s always a good idea to make healthy choices & the Canada Food Guide can help you with that. Generally speaking, you’ll want to:

  • Make sure that you are getting the appropriate daily intake of the four food groups:
    • Fruits & Vegetables
    • Protein
    • Dairy
    • Grains
  • Think colourful:
    • Choose fruits & veggies of assorted colours
    • Choose bread that is BROWN (Whole wheat, whole grain)
  • Drink plenty of WATER

You should consult a medical professional as to what should be avoided during pregnancy, but here are some common ones:

  • Alcohol
  • Too much caffeine (limit your consumption to 2 (8-oz) cups daily)
  • Be careful with herbal teas, as some plant-based products may trigger contractions. Those you may drink in moderation (maximum of 2-3 cups daily, and switching flavours as opposed to drinking the same all the time): tea made from citrus fruit skins, ginger, balm and wild rose
  • When choosing canned tuna, choose light instead of white as the white contains more mercury
  • Do not eat more than one portion monthly of fresh or frozenshark, swordfish, marlin and tuna
  • Foods that may carry the bacteria that causes listeriosis. For example:
    • Smoked sausages & hot dogs that have not been heated. You should heat well before consuming
    • Deli Meats/Sliced cold meats
    • Refrigerated Patés and meat spreads
    • Refrigerated smoked fish & seafood
    • Soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, blue & feta unless they are pasteurized
  • Raw fish or meat of any kind- and, yes, this includes sushi.

Best nutrition advice for Mom: Follow the Canada Food Guide

  • TIP: Health Canada now offers My Food Guide where you can customize your own food guide based on sex, age & other variables.

Morning Sickness
Many experience it and many don’t. It does not only happen in the morning. I, personally, was fortunate in that I was only queasy but the heaving was left to a minimum. When I was severely uncomfortable, I reminded myself that this was my body’s way of reminding me that there’s a baby in there!

While some remedies work for some & others work for others & for some nothing helps, here are some guidelines that may work for you:

  • Eat 6 smaller meals daily rather than 3 large
  • Enjoy health snacks more frequently- the nausea tends to worsen on an empty stomach. Keep them handy in the car, office drawer or your purse.
  • Keep saltines on hand- even a couple on your nightstand, try munching a few before actually getting out of bed.
  • Sucking on candied ginger is said to offer relief
  • Remind yourself that what you are going through is all for a good cause!
  • Discuss any severe symptoms with your physician
  • Keep yourself well-hydrated, especially if you are vomiting often

TWINS OR MORE: If you are pregnant with twins or more, you should consult your physician, or better yet, a nutritionist for guidelines as to what adjustments you should make as far as additional servings of certain food groups.

Planning Meals for When Baby Arrives

Something to keep in mind is that when baby comes, you will be very busy with feeding & changing. If you have an older child or older children you will also be busy tending to them & to their schedule(s). One way to simplify your life is to cook in advance & freeze so that when baby comes you need only re-heat your dinners. You needn’t even prepare special meals- you can just cook double of what you are cooking for yourselves now, and freeze the additional portion. Remember to label with date & contents. If you are planning to breastfeed, you may want to omit foods that may produce gas in your baby. Click here for more info.

Looking for ideas of what freezes well?

Here are some ideas:

  • Meatsauce
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Chicken stir fry without the veggies (add frozen veggies at the last minute when re-heating)
  • Grilled chicken breast
  • Chicken Shnitzel
  • Pepper Steak
  • Hamburgers- grilled or raw (if freezing raw make sure to use fresh meat- you don’t want to re-freeze raw meat)
  • Meatballs(beef, chicken or turkey)
  • Stew
  • Chili
  • Lasagna
  • Unbaked pizza

Happy eating…and prepping!


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