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Top Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition and Pregnancy

September 30, 2013

Women who are planning a pregnancy or who are pregnant often question the nutritional value and the safety of certain foods, as well as risks their lifestyle may present to the fetus.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers. Fuller answers are provided later in the book, but these short answers should serve as a quick reference to nutrition and lifestyle in pregnancy.

1. Q. I am very nauseated and worried that I am not getting enough to eat. How can I know if I am eating enough?

A. Mild to moderate nausea and vomiting do not generally result in poor nutritional status for the expectant mother or the fetus. Usually symptoms of nausea subside by 18 weeks of gestation. If you continue to experience nausea and vomiting throughout your pregnancy, you should speak with your health-care provider. For more information on nausea and vomiting, see page 79.

2. Q. I am having intense cravings for certain foods. Is this normal?

A. Cravings or aversions to certain foods are quite common during pregnancy. The cause of these intense cravings is unknown. Provided that the food is not harmful, you can give in to these cravings now and then. For more information on food cravings, see page 78.

3. Q. Do I need to take a multivitamin during pregnancy?

A. You do not need to take a multivitamin if you eat a well- balanced diet during pregnancy. Following the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) MyPyramid or Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating will provide you with the nutrients you need. Nevertheless, if you are planning a pregnancy or become pregnant, you should take an additional folic acid supplement containing at least 400 mcg (0.4 mg). There is strong evidence that folic acid supplementation can help prevent neural tube defects. Additional iron may also be recommended by your doctor. If your diet is less than perfect, a multivitamin can help to provide some additional vitamins and minerals. For more on multivitamins, see pages 64 and 76–77.

4. Q. How much folic acid do I need? I am worried about my baby developing spinabifida.

A. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of folic acid for pregnant women is 600 mcg, or 0.6 mg, per day. This should come from a combination of a supplement containing at least 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid and from dietary sources, including enriched grains, fruits and vegetables. For more information on folic acid, see pages 25–27 and 58–59.

5. Q. Is it safe to drink herbal teas during pregnancy?

A. Some herbal teas are safe to drink during pregnancy and some are not. For example, chamomile tea, commonly used for relaxation, is not safe to use during pregnancy, while citrus peel, ginger, lemon balm, orange peel and rose hip teas are safe. For more information on herbal teas, see pages 41 and 44.

Find more info like this in Better Food for Pregnancy: Nutrition Guide plus more than 125 Recipes for Healthy Pregnancy & Breastfeeding by Daina Kalnins & Joanne Saab with The Hospital for Sick Children

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