Pregnant Woman

If you are a woman of childbearing age, it is important to take care of your body at all times, and be as healthy as possible. Once you become pregnant your body will go through many changes. A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, or 10 months from conception to delivery; during this time, there are some things you can do to make sure that you and your baby are healthy.

Woman and newborn baby

Take prenatal vitamins/minerals:  Keep in mind that prenatal vitamins are not meant to replace a healthy diet; they are a supplement. 

  • The need for vitamins A, C, E and some B vitamins increases during pregnancy.
  • Folic acid intake is important during childbearing years because it helps to prevent certain birth defects.  
  • Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron per day, this is double the amount needed by women who are not pregnant.  Iron plays a role in supplying oxygen to the baby.
  • Calcium is important during pregnancy because it helps to build the baby's bones and teeth. If a pregnant woman does not take in enough calcium, it will be taken from the mother's bone stores. 

During your pregnancy, you may experience nausea, vomiting and mood swings as your hormone levels change.

If you have nausea and vomiting:

  • Make sure you stay hydrated. 
  • Eating smaller meals frequently may also help.
  • Try to avoid foods that trigger those symptoms.



Many women become hungrier than usual when pregnant. The average weight gain should be between 25 and 30 pounds.  To avoid gaining extra weight during pregnancy:   

Eat a healthy diet:  

  • Make sure you include foods high in iron, calcium and folic acid.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Include lean protein in your diet.
  • Include whole grains.
  • Consume low-fat dairy.


Foods to limit:

  • Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that that passes through the placenta to your baby.  If you drink beverages with caffeine,  it is suggested that you limit caffeine-containing drinks to 16 ounces of coffee or 20 ounces of cola.
  • Fatty fish:

o   Do not eat shark, swordfish, tilefish or mackerel that may contain mercury.

o   Eat 12 ounces or less of shrimp, salmon, canned light tuna, pollock and catfish. These fish are less likely to contain mercury.

o   Do not eat more than 6 ounces of albacore white tuna or tuna steak per week.

  • Unpasteurized foods: These foods may contain harmful bacteria. To avoid these bacteria:
    • Heat hot dogs, lunch and deli meats until steaming hot.
    • Avoid pates or meat spreads.
    • Avoid unpasteurized foods and beverages such as cheeses, apple cider and unpasteurized milk.
    • Avoid raw sprouts.


  • Raw meats: Raw meats may contain toxoplasma.  This is a parasite found in raw and undercooked meats.  It can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or damage to the baby's brain, eyes and other organs.  Meats need to be cooked until medium or well done.



Gestational diabetes and hypertension are of concern during pregnancy.

  • Gestational diabetes: During the 28th week of pregnancy, women are tested for diabetes. If the levels of sugar in the blood are high, the doctor will prescribe a specific diet. Some women will get medicine to help keep the blood sugar levels at a normal level. High blood sugar levels in the mother may increase the baby’s chances of very high birth weight, pre-term birth, breathing problems and/or low blood sugar levels after birth. Also, women who reach ideal body weight after delivery have less chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.


  • High blood pressure/Pre-eclampsia:  High blood pressure may occur during pregnancy.  Gestational diabetes increases your chances of high blood pressure during this time.
    • Pre-eclampsia is a complication caused by very high blood pressure.  It can be a sign of damage to other organ systems, most often the liver and kidneys. Pre-eclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This condition can threaten the lives of both mother and baby.
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  • Do not smoke: Smoking may cause the baby to be born too early or to have a low birth weight.  This increases the chances of the baby being weaker and having to stay in the hospital longer. Also, smoking during and after pregnancy is a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).


  • Do not drink alcohol: Alcohol in the mother’s bloodstream passes to the baby through the umbilical cord.  It can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The consequences may include physical, behavioral, and/or intellectual disabilities.


  • Stay Active: Check with your doctor to see what activities are appropriate during pregnancy.
Newborn baby in Mom's hands