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Pre-conception nutrition is a vital part of preparing for pregnancy. Factors such as a woman's weight compared to her height and what she eats can play an important role in a mother's health during pregnancy and the health of her developing fetus.
A mother's pre-pregnancy weight has a direct influence on her baby's birthweight. Studies show that underweight women are more likely to give birth to small babies, even though they may gain the same amount in pregnancy as normal weight women. Overweight women have increased risks for complications in pregnancy such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. Consult your physician about whether you need to lose or gain weight before becoming pregnant.
Many women do not eat a well-balanced diet before pregnancy and may not have the proper nutritional status for the demands of pregnancy. Generally, a pregnant woman needs to add about 300 extra calories to meet the needs of her body and her developing fetus. However, those calories, as well as her entire diet, need to be healthy, balanced, and nutritious.
Using the food pyramid can help you plan the number of servings from each food group for a well-balanced diet. In addition, the following nutrients should be included in a woman's pre-conception diet and continued into pregnancy:
Folic acid is most beneficial during the first 28 days after conception, when most neural tube defects occur. Unfortunately, many women do not realize they are pregnant before 28 days. Therefore, folic acid intake should begin prior to conception.
Most physicians will prescribe a prenatal supplement before conception, or shortly afterward, to ensure all of the woman's nutritional needs are met. However, a prenatal supplement does not replace a healthy diet.
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Online Resources of High-Risk Pregnancy
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