Constipation occurs frequently during pregnancy. Diet can play an important role in preventing constipation. To reduce constipation:
• Eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables
• Cook vegetables in as little water as possible for as short a time as possible.
• Include more whole grain breads and cereals in your diet.
• Drink an adequate amount of fluids daily.
• Eat meals at “regular” times.
• Exercise as recommended by your physician or certified nurse midwife.
Nausea, or morning sickness, occurs usually in the early months of your pregnancy, although it can persist beyond that time. If nausea is a problem,
regulating your diet may help in making you feel better. This is usually an individual problem and what works for one person may not work for others.
To reduce nausea:
• Eat dry toast or cereal in the morning before you get up. Move around slowly before eating a small breakfast.
• Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Avoid skipping meals.
• Drink fluids between meals.
• Avoid highly seasoned foods and foods high in fat.
• Food odors may increase nausea. Cook in a well ventilated area. Eating cold foods also may help since they do not have the strong odors that hot foods may have.
• When nauseated, high carbohydrate foods like crackers, rice, bread and potatoes without butter or seasoning are better tolerated and help quell the
acid feeling in your stomach.
• Try to eat high protein foods when you feel better during the day. In most cases the nausea improves over time.
Heartburn or Indigestion
Indigestion or heartburn may occur during pregnancy, more often near the end of pregnancy. Some diet suggestions include:
• Eat six small meals instead of three larger ones.
• Limit foods high in fat or highly seasoned foods.
• Limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine.
• Do not allow yourself to get too full or too hungry.
• Avoid eating before going to sleep.
• Over the counter antacids are safe
• Don’t drink large amounts of fluids with meals
Anemia often occurs during pregnancy. Women with poor iron stores before pregnancy or those who eat a diet low in folic acid are more likely to develop anemia. To ensure adequate amounts of iron and folic acid during pregnancy:
• Take your prenatal vitamin daily.
• Take extra iron supplements if prescribed by your physician.
• Eat foods that are rich in iron and folic acid. (See page 12)
~Iron Fortified Cereals/Whole Grain Meat/Fish/Poultry
~Dried Beans and Peas Liver
~Dried Fruits Leafy Green Vegetables
• Take your prenatal vitamins and/or iron supplement with meals that include meat and high vitamin C foods and beverages. These two factors increase your body’s ability to use iron. High vitamin C foods include citrus fruits, juices,strawberries, tomatoes and baked potatoes
• Do not take your supplements with milk or milk products as iron absorption is lessened.
Artificial sweeteners are found in many low calorie foods and beverages. Do not use saccharin at all. There is no conclusive evidence that aspartame is
harmful during pregnancy. However, please limit your consumption of aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet, etc.) during both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Even small amounts of alcohol have been found to be harmful to the development of the baby. It is recommended that alcohol be AVOIDED during pregnancy.
Caffeine is a substance found primarily in coffee, tea, chocolate and some soft drinks. Since everything you eat or drink can be passed on to your baby, it is recommended that excessive amounts of caffeine be avoided during pregnancy.
Reducing Caffeine in Your Diet
Caffeine intake should not exceed 250 milligrams daily. Pregnant women should decrease intake even more since caffeine is a substance that may have side effects if excessive amounts are consumed.
Read Food Labels Carefully
If decreasing coffee intake is difficult, try mixing decaffeinated coffee and regular coffee. Gradually increase decaffeinated and decrease regular until you are drinking 100% decaffeinated coffee. Decaffeinated tea is available in most supermarkets and can take the place of regular brewed tea. Try to stick to the non-cola sodas for the most part.