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Nutrition, Diet, and Exercise in Pregnancy

Staying healthy during your pregnancy is important for you and your baby. Studies have shown that a healthy diet and regular exercise before, during, and after pregnancy can help lower your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and even a C-section delivery.

Exercise

For patients with a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, the American College of OB/GYN recommends approximately 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.

Safe types of exercise in pregnancy include walking, swimming, modified Yoga and Pilates (avoid lying flat on your back or stomach) and bicycling.

Nutrition

It is important to eat a well-balanced diet during pregnancy so that your baby is born as strong and healthy as possible.

To develop good nutritional habits, you should:

  • take a prenatal vitamin daily to give your body extra folic acid, iron and calcium
  • fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies
  • choose healthy proteins like chicken, eggs, and fish
  • avoid processed, sugary foods like sodas, candy, and sweets.

Weight Gain

Below is a general guide to recommended weight gain during your pregnancy. If you have a condition that makes digestion difficult or you are pregnant with twins, discuss weight gain with your provider.

Starting Weight (BMI) Total Recommended Weight Gain for Pregnancy Recommended Weight Gain per Week (2nd and 3rd Trimester)
Underweight (BMI <18) 30-40 LBS 1-1.3 LBS
Normal Weight (BMI 18-25) 25-35 LBS 0.8-1.0 LBS
Overweight (BMI 25-29) 15-20 LBS 0.5-0.7 LBS
Obese (BMI >30) 10-20 LBS 0.4-0.6 LBS

Special Foods, Dietary Restrictions and Food Safety

There are certain foods, dietary restrictions and food safety precautions that are specific for pregnant women. These include the following:

Fish & Shellfish

Certain types of fish like mackerel and swordfish can be high in mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. Choose safer fish such as shrimp, catfish, trout, salmon and flounder.

For more information regarding fish safety, visit the EPA's website regarding fish consumption during pregnancy at www.epa.gov/choose-fish-and-shellfish-wisely.

Caffeine

Most experts agree that caffeine intake should not exceed 200 mg per day, which is about the amount of caffeine in a single cup of coffee. Teas and sodas usually contain 30-80 mg of caffeine per cup.

Alcohol

Alcohol has been consistently linked to causing damage to a developing baby. Regardless of the type of alcohol (beer, wine or liquor), it should be avoided during every trimester of pregnancy.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Vegetarian and vegan patients need to make sure they are getting adequate protein, calcium and iron from plant-based sources. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, so speak with your provider if you are concerned about deficiency.

Food Safety

While most "stomach bugs" do not cause harm to the baby during pregnancy, there is a type of foodborne illness known as Listeria that can cause miscarriage or pre-term labor.

To prevent Listeria, the following foods should be avoided during pregnancy:

  • unpasteurized milk and cheese products
  • hot dogs, lunch meat, and cold cuts unless heated until steaming
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • smoked meat or seafood.

Our Metro-Atlanta Offices

Providing excellent care for women in our offices located in Alpharetta, Atlanta Midtown, Atlanta Perimeter, Canton, and Cumming and hospital services at Northside Atlanta, Northside Forsyth and Northside Cherokee.