The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Swimming in omega-3s
Although you should limit or avoid eating certain types of fish during pregnancy, there are still plenty of healthful options in the seafood department. There you can find lean sources of protein and healthful omega-3 fatty acids. "Studies have shown that [omega-3 fatty acids] are an important nutrient for the development and health of the fetal nervous system, heart and eyes," says Jennifer Wider, M.D., medical advisor to the Society for Women's Health Research in Washington, D.C. You need about 1.4 g a day.
There is also some evidence that omega-3s may lower the risk of preterm birth and postpartum depression. However, pregnant women need to restrict or eliminate certain fish from their diet because of mercury contamination. Visit gotmercury.org to find the healthiest seafood choices.
Smart Picks for Omega-3s
Wild Pacific salmon (3 ounces) 1.4 g
Trout (3 ounces) 8 g
Oysters (3 ounces, steamed) 3 g
More sources of omega-3s Walnuts (1 ounce): 2.6 g; canola oil (1 tablespoon): 1.3 g; flaxseed (1 tablespoon): 1.6 g; cooked sardines (3 ounces): 1.2 g
Your calcium connection
If you don't get 1,000 mg of this mineral daily, your growing baby is going to leach calcium from your bones, increasing your risk for fractures of the hip, spine and wrist as you age. Make sure your picks in this section are vitamin D-fortified as well as calcium-rich. "Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium," explains Blazier. Dairy products also are an excellent source of protein, and many low-fat options exist.
If you don't eat dairy products, focus on the nondairy sources listed below in "More Sources of Calcium."
Smart Picks for Dairy
Low-fat yogurt, any flavor (1 cup) 419 mg calcium, 12 g protein
2% milk (1 cup) 314 mg calcium, 9 g protein
Calcium-fortified soymilk (1 cup) 368 mg calcium, 5 g protein
More sources of calcium Almonds (1 ounce): 70 mg; canned salmon with bones (3 ounces): 188 mg; calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice (1 cup): 351 mg; Total Raisin Bran (1 cup):1,000 mg
CERALS, BREADS & PASTA Fiber-filled
Your increased iron intake (as well as pregnancy itself) can lead to constipation. Fiber-rich foods and lots of water are the antidote. "Fiber is the indigestible part of food," explains Blazier. "It can help lower cholesterol, promote gastrointestinal health and increase [food's] 'transit time' for pregnant women who are experiencing constipation." The whole grains in certain kinds of bread, pasta, rice and cereal will help you reach your dietary fiber goal of 28 g daily.
Smart Picks for Fiber
Whole-grain bread or crackers Whole-wheat English muffins (1 muffin): 4 g; whole-wheat pita (1 large): 5 g; Rye Krisp (1 cracker): 4 g
Whole grains Whole-wheat spaghetti (1 cup): 6 g; bulgar (1 cup): 8 g; brown rice (1 cup): 4 g
Breakfast cereals Cheerios (1 cup): 3 g; Total Raisin Bran (1 cup): 5 g; Wheatena (1 cup): 7 g
More sources of fiber Raspberries (1 cup): 8 g; pear (1 small): 4 g; summer squash (1 cup mashed): 5 g; white beans (1 cup cooked): 19 g