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Eating well during pregnancy

Eating well during pregnancy not only means eating more, but also considering what you eat. If you eat super well during this all-important stage, you'll be promoting your baby's growth and development.

You only need about 340 to 450 extra calories per day - and that's for the later stage of pregnancy, when your baby is growing faster. This is not a lot of calories (one cup of cereal and 2% skim milk).

It is important that the calories come from nutritious foods so that they can contribute to your baby's growth and development. When you are pregnant, what you eat is the primary source of nutrition for your baby. In fact, the link between what you eat and your baby's health is much stronger today than once thought.

The extra food you eat shouldn't just be empty calories - it should provide the nutrients your baby needs to grow.

How to deal with cravings?

Some women crave chocolate, spicy foods, fruits, and homemade foods such as mashed potatoes, cereal, and toasted white bread. Others crave non-food items such as clay and cornstarch.

Craving and eating non-food items is known as pica. Eating non-food items can be dangerous for both you and your baby. If you have cravings for non-food items, please notify your doctor.

It is okay to satisfy your cravings, as long as you are craving foods that contribute to a healthy diet. Often, these cravings decrease after the third month of pregnancy.

What to avoid eating and drinking during pregnancy?

Avoid alcohol - no level of alcohol consumption is considered safe during pregnancy. Also, check with your doctor before taking vitamins or herbal products because some of these products can be harmful to the fetus.

And while many doctors think that one or two 6-8 ounce cups of coffee, tea or caffeinated soft drinks won't harm your baby, it's probably a smart move to avoid caffeine altogether, if possible. High caffeine consumption has been linked to miscarriages and other problems, so it is best to limit your intake or switch to decaffeinated products.

Foods to avoid include:

- Soft, unpasteurized cheeses (described in advertising as "fresh"), unpasteurized milk, juices and cider vinegar.

- Raw eggs or foods containing them, including mousse-type desserts and Tiramisu.

- Raw or undercooked meat, fish or shellfish.

- Processed meats such as sausages and cured meats (which should be thoroughly cooked).

- Fish with high mercury content, such as shark, swordfish, whiting, tuna.

If you have eaten these types of foods at some point during your pregnancy, don't worry too much about it now; just avoid them for the rest of your pregnancy.

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