A Healthy Start for You and Your Baby

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The 40 weeks of pregnancy are a magical time for a woman and her family. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle before, during and after pregnancy is key for a healthy baby and mother.

Ensure a healthy pregnancy by eating a balanced diet, gaining the right amount of weight, enjoying regular physical activity and including the correct amount of important vitamins and minerals into your eating plan. It is also vital to avoid alcohol, tobacco and other harmful substances.

Pregnant women should eat a variety of foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy. Also, eat healthy fats such as olive, canola or soybean oil, nuts and nut butters and avocados.

In addition to eating foods rich in nutrients, pregnant women are encouraged to check with a health-care provider because they may need a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure they are consuming enough iron, folic acid and other important nutrients.

Folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects affecting the spinal cord. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume 400 micrograms per day, and women who are pregnant should increase their intake to 600 micrograms per day.

Iron is needed to make sure pregnant women are not at risk for anemia. Pregnant women need at least 27 milligrams of iron each day. High-iron foods include leafy greens, beans, fortified cereals, lean meat, chicken and fish.

Calcium is needed for the healthy development of a baby’s teeth, bones, heart, nerves and muscles. When a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, it is taken from her bones for the baby. It is important to consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day before, during and after pregnancy.

Omega-3s are important for your baby's brain and eye development and function. Eat 8 to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week while you're pregnant, including those high in omega-3s and low in mercury like salmon and trout.

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