1. Congrats! You're pregnant. A healthy diet is now more important than ever.
2. Eat plenty of folate-rich foods like spinach, beans, and cantaloupe for your baby's healthy brain development.
It's super important for women to get enough folate — even before they get preggers. So if you're ~trying~ to stick a bun in the oven, start upping your folate intake ASAP. Folate, also called folic acid, is an essential nutrient for developing fetuses. "Folate is used to develop brain and spinal cord in the first four weeks of pregnancy," says Dr. Afua Mintah, a New York City-based obstetrician-gynecologist. "So before [a woman] even misses her cycle, she needs that folate on board."
Women should consume 400–800 micrograms each day even if they're not trying to get pregnant. That way, if they do end up pregs, the babies are less likely to have birth defects. Women who have had babies with these conditions before, who are taking certain medications, or who have conditions including sickle cell disease and liver disease, need even more. Click here to find out if you do.
Most prenatal vitamins include folate, but you can also get it from your diet pretty easily. Spinach (58 micrograms/cup), broccoli (57mcg/cup), beans (170mcg/cup), and cantaloupe(37mcg/cup) are all good sources, as are many breakfast cereals.
3. Make sure you’re getting plenty of iron.
4. Avoiding beer, wine, and any other alcoholic beverages is probably your safest bet.
5. Cravings for ice, dirt, cigarette ashes or other non-food substances could be a sign of a condition called pica.
6. Most pregnant women are getting enough calcium in their diets, but vegans need to make an extra effort.
7. Eating foods with probiotics, like yogurt and homemade kimchi, may stave off yeast infections.
Yeast infections are common during pregnancy. While you can treat them safely with over-the-counter anti-fungal creams and suppositories, you may also be able to prevent them with probiotics. These live microorganisms, often referred to as "friendly bacteria," may help your body fight off infections caused by "bad" bacteria, including yeast infections. The evidence that they can do this is still inconclusive and the FDA has not yet approved health claims for foods made with probiotics, but some women report positive results and they are generally considered safe, even for pregnant women and their fetuses.
Probiotics are often added to yogurts and naturally occur in fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut and kimchi. Store-bought versions of these foods, though, are often pasteurized and therefore do not have probiotics.