Eating well improves your chances of having a healthy baby. If you are skipping meals and eating lots of fast foods and desserts, your diet is probably not well balanced. You and your baby's physical and emotional health can be affected.
"You are what you eat!" is really true.
What you eat can affect your:
weight gain (too much or too little can affect baby's health and yours too)
baby's delivery and health
During pregnancy, you need vitamins, minerals and a little more food to make sure you are getting the right amount of nutrients and energy for you and for your baby. Eating a variety of foods from Canada's Food Guide is important because each food and food group gives you different nutrients that are needed for good health. Eating well also builds up your health for after the birth of your baby.
Canada's Food Guide Four Food Groups:
Vegetables and Fruits
Milk and Alternatives
Meat and Alternatives
You can still have "treats" (soft drinks, sweets, salty, high-fat snacks and meals, etc.) but eat them like treats, once in a while. Most of your food choices should come from Canada's Food Guide.
All pregnant and breastfeeding women need more calories. Include an extra two to three Food Guide Servings to your diet each day. For example, have an extra slice of whole grain toast at breakfast or an extra glass of milk with your dinner. If you are having a snack, have an extra yogurt or fruit.
Folate is a B vitamin found naturally in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form found in vitamin supplements. Both are important during pregnancy and before your next pregnancy.
Do you know...Your body absorbs the synthetic form (i.e., folic acid) more easily than folate?
it helps to make additional blood cells needed throughout your whole pregnancy
it helps to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs). These are birth defects affecting a baby's brain and spinal cord and may cause a serious disability
Folic acid is very important in the first few weeks of pregnancy because that is when the baby's spine, skull and brain develop. It is still necessary to have folic acid even after the first few weeks for the production of the extra blood your body will be making.
Note: Once you are pregnant, start taking a prenatal vitamin/mineral supplement (which already contains folic acid) and stop taking the multivitamin/mineral supplement. Your doctor may recommend that you take larger amounts of folic acid (more than 1 mg) for medical reasons.
Fortified-grain products (usually the white flour products) are the best sources of folic acid because they have folic acid added to them. Whole grains do not have folic acid, however, they are still very important as they are a source of fibre. Try to vary grain products, some whole grain, some white-flour based. Orange juice and dark green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts and okra are excellent sources.
Even when you eat the best sources of folic acid it is difficult to get enough from food alone. Taking a multi-vitamin/mineral vitamin every day containing 0.4mg of folic acid will ensure you are getting what you need to have a healthy baby.
For more information:
Region of Peel - Public Health
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216
To speak to a Public Health Nurse
Iron is important for you and for your baby to grow and maintain good health. It helps to build red blood cells which carry oxygen (energy) and nutrients to the both of you.
When you are pregnant, your body needs to make more blood, almost double, for your body, your growing baby and placenta. It may happen that during pregnancy, your blood iron becomes low (anemia). Low iron in the blood can cause you to feel tired, have pale skin, and be more likely to catch colds and infections.
Calcium & Vitamin D
A diet rich in calcium is especially important for the development of healthy bones. This is important for development of the baby's skeleton during pregnancy. Major sources of calcium are found in milk and dairy products. Teens (14 - 18 years old, even during pregnancy) need 3 - 4 servings of milk or milk products according to Canada's Food Guide e.g., 1 serving = 1 cup (250 ml) milk.
Vitamin D is just as important as calcium. It helps your body absorb calcium. Milk is the major source of vitamin D. Because milk is the best source of vitamin D, it is recommended that everyone drink 2 cups (500 ml) of milk each day to get the vitamin D their bodies need.
Your doctor will want you to start taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin D. You can buy these vitamins at your local pharmacy or get vouchers for free prenatal vitamins by going to one of our Teen Prenatal Supper Club Programs in Peel.
Essential Fatty Acids
Certain types of fats, called essential fatty acids, are necessary for you and your baby's growth and development. There are three types: omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9.
They are found in vegetable oils and soft margarines, found in nuts, seeds and fatty fish. Your body does not make enough of these fats so you must get them from your food.
Include essential fatty acids in your diet by:
Having salmon for supper or a salmon sandwich for lunch
Choosing salad dressing made from oils such as canola oil
Using vegetable oils in cooking and baking
Sprinkling nuts and seeds in your meals or yogurt
Certain types of omega-3 fatty acids, called DHA and EPA, are important for healthy growth of your baby's eyes, brain and nervous system. The best source of DHA/EPA is fatty fish, mostly salmon. Other sources are DHA-enriched eggs, DHA-enriched milk, DHA/EPA supplements. Before taking any supplements, check with your doctor or dietitian and buy from reputable stores. Check the expiry date.
Energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine (like guarana or yerba mate), sugar and other ingredients. Caffeine may cause a short-term increase in heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and breathing rate. It may also cause nervousness, headaches, tremors, irritability and sleeping problems.
Some of the other ingredients in energy drinks have not been tested for safety. This is why many of these drinks are banned in countries like Norway, Denmark, and France!
Health Canada states that rather than re-hydrating the body, these drinks may actually lead to dehydration.