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At the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, each patient is an important member of her own care team. We believe education is the cornerstone of our high-quality care. Find answers to frequently asked questions about nutrition and pregnancy.
It is important for pregnant women to eat right for themselves and for their baby. The following are some frequently asked questions about pregnancy and nutrition.
It is important to note that the types of foods eaten are more important than simply how much.
It's a good idea to sprinkle a little protein into each meal and snack every 3 to 4 hours or so. In this way, you will meet your protein needs without ever having to eat a very large portion at one time. It can also help keep your energy level stable and reduce the risk of heartburn. A few ways to add protein rich snacks to your day:
The Institute of Medicine recommends all women capable of becoming pregnant should consume a supplement containing 400 mcg of folic acid in addition to folate found in foods.
*Liver is very rich in vitamin A so it is recommended to limit the amount of liver to occasional use only. Keep the amount of vitamin A from supplements and fortified foods to a maximum of 5000 IU/day. Beta-carotene, the form of vitamin A from fruits and vegetables, may be consumed in unlimited amounts, as the body will convert it only as needed. Choose a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
While eating nutritious foods is important during pregnancy, it is equally important to protect yourself from harmful bacteria and pathogens that can make you or your baby sick.
Fish and seafood are excellent low-fat sources of many nutrients including protein, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals such as calcium and zinc. There are a few types of fish, however, that pregnant and breastfeeding women should not eat due to their potential higher content of methyl mercury and PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls).
It is safe to select a variety of other types of fish, including well-cooked shellfish, smaller ocean fish or farm raised fish. It is safe to eat 12 ounces of cooked fish per week, with a typical serving size being 3-6 ounces.
For more information individually tailored to individual needs, consult a physician or registered dietitian.
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