Pregnancy Nutrition Dos and Don'ts

by Pamela M. Peeke, MD, MPH

pregnant woman deciding what to eat during pregnancyEating right during pregnancy can be confusing. In the next nine months, what you eat, what you drink, how physically active you are and what you weigh all have the potential to affect your child's current and future growth.

In fact, a growing body of research finds that conditions in utero (i.e., while you're pregnant) have the potential to affect your child's health even decades down the road. For instance, one study found that women who drink during pregnancy could increase their child's risk of alcohol addiction later in life, even with just one drinking binge. Other studies suggest significant correlations between a mother's nutrition during pregnancy and her child's risk for being overweight and developing diabetes and heart disease later in life.

The message? Eat right today and prevent future health problems for your child.

There are two components to "eating right" when you're pregnant. One is the type of food you're eating, and the other is how much weight you gain.

For many women, pregnancy is the first time in their lives when gaining weight is a good thing—but don't go overboard. You do not need to consume any more calories than your normal daily intake during your first trimester. After the first 12 weeks, you may consume up to 300 extra calories per day.

Here's what the Institute of Medicine recommends: