Nutrition & Pregnancy Overview

Nutrition & pregnancy overview

  • Eating right reduces infertility and supports healthy fetal development.
  • Following a healthy prenatal diet helps prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy and provides her child with the essential building blocks of life.
  • The basic principles of healthy eating apply to pregnancy and include consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.
  • Doctors also recommend that women who intend to get pregnant or are pregnant should take extra vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and folic acid.

How does nutrition affect pregnancy?

Fertility specialists and physicians agree that a healthy diet can greatly improve a woman’s chances of getting and staying pregnant. It is important to set the stage for success – it takes months to ensure that a woman is sending the right physiological messages to her body telling it she’s ready for pregnancy.

For example, eating vitamin B rich foods, such as broccoli and green leafy vegetables, has shown to increase the ability to ovulate by 40 percent.

Similarly, many couples don’t realize that male-factor infertility plays a role in nearly 40 percent of all infertility cases. Men should consider diets high in vitamin B12 to increase sperm concentration, as well as zinc (found in oysters, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and crabmeat) to enhance sperm quality, although too much zinc can impede sperm movement.

Read about a study conducted at LLU Center for Fertility & IVF on vitamin D3’s impact on embryo growth.

What is a healthy prenatal diet?

When women incorporate wise food choices into their diet it increases fertility, boosts fetal health during pregnancy and gives babies a strong start to life.

The basic principles of maintaining a healthy eating regimen remain the same for pregnancy – consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. Supplements can also fill in the gaps to ensure women are getting enough vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, iodine, vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, calcium and zinc.

Must-have nutrients for healthy baby growth

  • Protein from beans and nuts supports the baby’s overall growth
  • Folic acid, a synthetic form of vitamin B9, helps prevent abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord
  • Calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth
  • Fat is needed to develop your baby’s brain and central nervous system
  • Iron is important for muscle function and stress resistance.

Diet tips during pregnancy

  • Avoid trans fats and use more unsaturated vegetable oils, such as olive oil or canola oil.
  • Choose whole grains or other sources of carbohydrates that have lower, slower effects on blood sugar and insulin rather than highly refined carbohydrates that quickly boost blood sugar and insulin.
  • Drink a glass of whole milk or have a small bowl of ice cream or full-fat yogurt every day. Temporarily trade in skim milk and low- or no-fat dairy products such as cottage cheese and frozen yogurt for their full-fat cousins.
  • Take vitamins: Women should take a prenatal vitamin and men a regular multivitamin.
  • Get plenty of iron from fruits, vegetables, beans and supplements rather than from red meat.
  • Beverages matter. Water is best, but coffee and tea are okay in moderation (1-2 cups/day). Avoid alcohol, sugared drinks and sodas.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing 5-10 percent of your weight can improve fertility.
  • Start a daily exercise plan or if you already exercise, pick up the pace of your workouts.
  • If you smoke, quit!