The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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For years, doctors and nutritionists have touted the benefits of eating fish—it’s an excellent source of good-for-your-heart fats, lean protein and key nutrients. But recent reports of mercury contamination may leave you wondering if fish is still such a healthy catch for you and your developing baby.
No. Some doctors believe that diets very high in soy (as many vegetarian diets are) can lead to such problems as attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity because of phytoestrogens in the soy. Not only are these dire predictions not supported by science, but millions of people worldwide are vegetarians (myself included) and have no behavioral problems whatsoever.
Women who consume plenty of omega-3 fatty acids during the third trimester have babies with better visual, cognitive and motor development compared with babies whose mothers don't get as much omega-3s, according to a study of Inuit women in the Canadian Arctic. The researchers measured the nutrient in umbilical cord blood and assessed the babies' development at 11 months.
If you can’t make it out of the office, try our simple and delicious midday meals packed with key pregnancy nutrients. Dessert included!
You are what you eat. That's old news. So is the fact that your diet during pregnancy affects your newborn's health. But the new news is that what you eat in the next nine months can impact your baby's health, as well as your own, for decades to come. Here are easy nutrition tips that will help you both.
Most of us are creatures of habit, piling the same foods into our grocery carts each week. But pregnancy, with its increased nutritional requirements and wacky cravings and aversions, may require venturing into new nutritional territory.
Trang Burnett describes herself as rational and not prone to knee-jerk emotional reactions. Yet, when the Tampa, Fla., mother was pregnant with now-2-year-old son Bryson, all bets on her moods were off. "TV commercials really affected me—happy or sad, they always made me cry," recalls Burnett, 36.
Sound familiar? While pregnant, you will experience a gamut of emotions—many of which may be completely new to you. After delivery, the emotional roller coaster ride continues.
It's a conundrum: You know seafood is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Rich in protein and other essential nutrients, swimming with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fats, these watery wonders have likely been a part of your weekly—if not daily—diet for years. But now that you're pregnant, you're being pummeled with news that fish may not be so healthy after all. What gives?
For more information on fish and mercury, check out the following websites:
• National Geographic's TheGreenGuide offers a comprehensive list of the best seafood choices—those that are not only low in mercury but are also not over-fished or farmed destructively—as well as those to avoid. Visit thegreenguide.com/doc/115/nofish.
• To calculate your weekly intake of mercury, visit gotmercury.org.
Where folate flourishes
Start your shopping trip in the fresh-produce department, where finding nutrient-dense foods is a no-brainer. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps manufacture and maintain new cells and is especially vital for the rapid cell division that takes place during pregnancy. Deficiencies can contribute to serious birth defects of the spine and brain (aka neural tube defects such as spina bifida).
Part of putting your Supermarket Smarts to work is to make informed choices when eating fish and seafood during pregnancy. 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.
The more nutritious your prenatal diet is, the better off you and your baby will be. So those extra 300 daily calories (yup, only 300, and only in your second and third trimesters!) should be carefully chosen. And here's a thought: Keep up the good eating once your baby is born. Because before you know it, your little one will be reaching for what's on your plate. If any of the bad habits described here sound familiar, now's the time to lose them for good.