Preventing Childhood Obesity with Healthy Pregnancy Tips

During your pregnancy, it may be tempting to give in to your cravings and eat everything you typically try to avoid. However, the phrase, “Eating for two,” can be deceiving. Pregnant women do not eat for two adults. They eat for themselves and a developing fetus. While it’s okay to derail your regular diet and splurge every so often, your eating habits often play a major role in your unborn child’s health. It also lowers the risk of congenital disabilities and childhood obesity. Furthermore, preventing childhood obesity with healthy pregnancy tips can also improve your health in the longterm as well.

At Women’s Care Florida, we have plenty of resources to help our patients create a healthy eating plan. Our obstetricians also provide their patients with guidance around nutrition and other healthy pregnancy habits. We’re sharing a few of their healthy pregnancy tips on how women can prevent childhood obesity in their kids.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet

Your diet should include foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that lend to good health for you and your baby. If you’re unable to get all the nutrients you need from food, talk to your OB-GYN about nutritional supplements. In many cases, taking supplements such as folic acid can help lower the risk of birth defects.

Preventing childhood obesity begins with your diet. It should include the following:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Healthy fats (omega-3s, polyunsaturated/monounsaturated fats)

Consult with your OB-GYN about other foods that are safe and healthy for you to eat throughout pregnancy. A pregnancy diet high in fat and sugar increases your risk for gestational diabetes and can lead to high baby birth weight. Studies have shown that babies whose mothers had gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for childhood obesity.

Avoiding excess weight gain

Many people think being pregnant requires eating for two. As a result, some women double up on portions to support the growth of their babies. However, eating for two can lead to extra weight gain during pregnancy, and increases the risk for gestational diabetes.

Most OB-GYNs say that you’ll only need to consume an extra 200 to 500 calories per day throughout pregnancy, depending on your physical activity level. For example, an athletic woman or someone who exercises regularly may need 500 extra calories per day throughout her pregnancy. Ask your OB-GYN about the recommended amount of extra calories you should be consuming, and try to avoid excess weight gain.

Choosing to breastfeed

Studies have shown that children who are breastfed are generally in better health than formula-fed children, and at a lower risk for childhood obesity. Additionally, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends breastfeeding your child for the first six months to provide optimal nutrition and health protection.

Breastfeeding also helps reduce your child’s risk for the following:

  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

During an appointment with your OB-GYN throughout pregnancy, don’t hesitate to ask about weight gain, nutrition, and the benefits of breastfeeding. Staying on top of your health during pregnancy is more important than ever, and improves your baby’s outcome for good health in years to come.

If you want to learn more about pregnancy nutrition, schedule an appointment with an OB at Women’s Care Florida today.

Vegan and Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you may be wondering if your diet is appropriate — or even safe — for a growing baby. You also may be thinking it is completely safe since many American pregnant women who are neither vegetarian or vegan don’t receive enough nutrients while others get too much. Can you provide proper nourishment without meat, eggs or dairy?

The experts at Women’s Care Florida say yes.

Vegan or vegetarian mothers-to-be can maintain their diets as long as they are diligent about nutrients. The most important thing a woman can do for her unborn child is to ensure it gets the right nutrition and care for proper growth.

Nutrients for the Vegan Pregnancy Diet

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are five essential nutrients every expectant mother needs on a daily basis: folate, calcium, vitamin D, protein and iron. And while all pregnancies require these, regardless of diet choices, many of the nutrients are more readily found in animal products.

Here’s a quick look at some meat/animal-free sources for these mighty nutrients.\

  • Folate/Folic Acid:
    • 400 to 800 micrograms a day helps prevent neural tube defects.
    • Sources: Green, leafy vegetables, oranges, peanuts, and fortified cereals.
  • Calcium:
    • 1,000 milligrams a day strengthens bone and teeth development; it helps the circulatory, muscular and nervous system run smoothly.
    • Sources: Broccoli, spinach, soy milk, tofu, almonds, and fortified cereals and juices.
  • Vitamin D:
    • 600 IU a day promotes bone strength.
    • Sources: Fortified soy milk, breads and cereals; supplements
  • Protein:
    • 71 grams a day helps with growth; especially important in second and third trimesters.
    • Sources: Peas, quinoa, oatmeal, nut butter, soy milk, tofu, whole-grain cereals, and bread.
  • Iron:
    • 27 milligrams a day gives more blood to supply oxygen to the baby. It carries oxygen to your muscles to help avoid fatigue, weakness, irritability, and depression.
    • Sources: Beans, edamame, barley, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, spinach, and soy products.

Nutrients and Supplements Explained

Prenatal multivitamins will provide many vitamins and nutrients, like calcium and folic acid. However, they do not replace a well-balanced diet. In addition, vegetarian or vegan mothers should be aware of which nutrients they lack. More and more studies report that plant-based diets keep you healthier than dairy and meat-rich diets. Nonetheless, don’t jump the gun and assume you already receive enough nutrients for pregnancy.

Folic acid is one of the eight vitamins in the B complex. A healthy pregnancy requires all eight. With a mindful vegetarian or vegan diet, you can ensure you get enough of these nutrients, except for one: B12.

Vitamin B12 helps with the proper development of the nervous system and can help prevent spina bifida and other birth defects in your growing baby. Unfortunately, the vitamin is mostly found in animal products such as eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. A 2013 study found that 62% of pregnant vegetarians were vitamin B12 deficient. However, vegans and vegetarians can take supplements instead of receiving the vitamin from a food source.

Questions about a Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet?

Talk with your Women’s Care Florida physician. It’s important that expectant mothers let us know they’re vegan or vegetarian during our first prenatal visit. Ideally, we’d discuss this even earlier at the preconception health visit. Together we can develop a healthy eating plan and determine which vitamin supplements, like B12, are needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.

You can read more about pregnancy nutrition on our website, including a list of 13 pregnancy superfoods. Or, schedule an appointment with your Women’s Care Florida physician to discuss a healthy eating plan for you and your growing baby.