Health Outcomes - Pregnancy

Good nutrition is important during pregnancy to ensure optimal fetal growth and development.

Healthy pregnancy diet

During pregnancy, it is important to eat the right foods. Vitamins and minerals play important roles in all aspects of fetal development. During pregnancy, women need more folic acid and iron. Taking a prenatal vitamin supplement can ensure women get these extra amounts. Additionally, consuming nutrient-dense foods during pregnancy supplies all of the other vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy. The healthiest pregnancy foods are nutrient dense, which means they contain lots of vitamins and minerals, within a small amount of calories.

Good pregnancy foods should include these nutrients, of particular importance, such as:

  • Folic acid, also known as folate. Folic acid is a B vitamin that is important for pregnant women. Before pregnancy and during pregnancy, women need folic acid to help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine called neural tube defects.
  • Iron is used to make a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the organs and tissues. During pregnancy, women need extra iron — about double the amount that non-pregnant women need. This extra iron helps women make more blood to supply oxygen to their babies. Iron also can be absorbed more easily if iron-rich foods are eaten with vitamin C.
  • Calcium is important, because it is used to build the baby’s bones and teeth. It works best if consumed with vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is essential for healthy skin and eyesight.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are important to support the baby’s brain development both before and after birth. Omega-3s are a type of fat found naturally in many kinds of fish.

Although there have been many studies on whether caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage, the results are unclear. Most experts state that consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine (about one 12-ounce cup of coffee) a day during pregnancy is safe.