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.

Healthy Pregnancy Diet: Nutrition Questions Answered

As an expectant mother, a healthy pregnancy diet is one of the most important things you can do for your growing baby. Poor nutrition can have devastating long-term effects on your child, including poor health, diminished cognitive and physical development, and an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. Understanding pregnancy diet and nutrition is a great start on your road to motherhood.

To help you better during pregnancy, we’ve put together answers to the more frequently asked dietary questions we hear at Women’s Care Florida on what to eat when pregnant.

Are prenatal vitamins necessary for a healthy pregnancy diet?

During pregnancy, your daily diet requires an increase in certain nutrients, including protein, folate, calcium, fiber, and iron. Prenatal vitamins ensure expectant mothers get enough of these key nutrients; however, they should not replace a healthy diet.

I already eat healthily… isn’t that enough?

Many women don’t realize how significant the increase in key nutrients needs to be to achieve a healthy pregnancy diet. As a result, many women don’t get enough. This Mayo Clinic article offers a good overview of the nutrients, how much you need, and what foods are good sources. Here’s a quick look:

  • Folate: (400 to 800 micrograms a day) helps prevent neural tube defects. Sources include green leafy vegetables, oranges, peanuts, and fortified cereals.
  • Calcium: (1,000 milligrams a day) Strong bone and teeth development; helps circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run normally. Found in milk, yogurt, pasteurized cheese, broccoli, spinach, fortified cereals, and juices.
  • Protein: (71 grams a day) Helps with growth; especially important in second and third trimesters. Good sources of protein include cottage cheese, poultry, fish, peanut butter and eggs.
  • Iron: (27 milligrams a day) Makes more blood to supply oxygen to the baby; carries oxygen to your muscles to help avoid fatigue, weakness, irritability, and depression. Lean red meat, poultry, fish, beans and fortified cereals are good sources of iron.

You can also find a list of 13 pregnancy superfoods on our website.

I heard you shouldn’t eat fish during pregnancy. Is that true?

In general, no. While it’s important to avoid fish that are high in mercury like swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish; fatty fish, like salmon, sardines and lake trout, are an excellent source of omega-3s which can help boost your baby’s brain development.

It is very important that you familiarize yourself with pregnancy dietary restrictions, as they can contain bacteria, parasites, and viruses that are unhealthy to you and your unborn baby. Visit the checklist at foodsafety.gov.

Is it okay to drink an occasional glass of wine?

No. Alcohol consumption of any amount should be avoided during pregnancy. Drinking raises your odds of miscarriage and can cause problems with your child’s development.

How about caffeine? I can’t function without my morning coffee.

Because it’s not completely clear what the effects of caffeine are during pregnancy, we’re going to align with the March of Dimes recommendation and suggest limiting caffeine to 200 milligrams each day. This is approximately the amount in one 12-ounce cup of coffee, making your morning coffee ritual okay… but you may want to consider switching to decaf anyway.

I’m afraid I’ll gain too much weight. Can I diet while pregnant?

No. Dieting of any kind is unwise during pregnancy. Ideally, you should reach a healthy weight before conceiving. Your dietary focus now should be on providing you and your baby with nutritious foods that will promote safe, healthy growth.

“Eating for two” doesn’t mean eating twice as much. Normal weight gain during pregnancy is 25-35 pounds, an amount that varies depending on your pre-pregnancy weight. Find your healthy amount on the USDA’s pregnancy weight gain calculator.

You’re sure to have many more questions about your pregnancy and good nutrition. Be sure to schedule your first prenatal visit as soon as you learn you’re pregnant. If you’re planning a pregnancy, now is the time to schedule a preconception health visit.

For more information and pregnancy support, make an appointment with a physician at Women’s Care Florida. Our experts have helped thousands of women prepare for their deliveries.

Bad Foods for Pregnancy

If you follow our blog regularly, you know the importance of a healthy pregnancy diet. By eating well-balanced meals comprised of necessary nutrients and avoiding the bad foods for pregnancy, you’re giving your baby the best chance for a healthy start.

So what constitutes an unhealthy pregnancy diet? Poor food choices before conception make for even poorer options when nurturing your growing baby. No one needs fried, fatty fast foods. However, some foods can be even more harmful and should be avoided completely when you’re expecting.

Check out this list of foods to avoid when pregnant:

Deli meat

No pastrami? That’s no baloney. Deli meats can be contaminated with harmful listeria, which can lead to multiple complications for you and your baby. These include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Blood infections
  • Even miscarriage

If you do choose to eat deli meat, heat it until it’s a steaming 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off any bacteria. The same goes for hotdogs!

Unpasteurized foods

Listeria can also be found in unpasteurized milk and soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as brie, gorgonzola, queso Blanco, and Roquefort. Make sure all of your dairy is pasteurized. When it comes to juices, fresh squeezed is delicious, but it can be dangerous if you don’t know how long it’s been away from the fruit. So unless you plan on squeezing your own and drinking it right away, stick with pasteurized juices.

Pate and meat spread

Can listeria be found in other foods? You bet. Refrigerated pate and meat spreads can also contain harmful bacteria. However, canned versions of these should be safe to eat.

Undercooked meat and poultry

A rare steak may sound delicious. However, nothing is appetizing about E. coli, salmonella, or Toxoplasma gondii. Any of these bacteria or parasites can cause serious harm to fetal development. Be sure to follow the FDA’s guidelines and cook all poultry and meats to safe temperatures.

Raw stuff

You’ll want to think twice about eating raw foods during pregnancy. Raw eggs carry the risk of salmonella. Raw sprouts can carry bacteria. Lastly, unwashed raw fruits and vegetables (yes, even fruits and veggies!) can harbor listeria.

But before you bypass the apples or asparagus, remember they’re essential components of a healthy pregnancy diet. Just be sure to wash all fruits and veggies thoroughly before eating.

And finally, a word about fish: when it comes to fish, safety should be priority number one (sorry sushi). The FDA has put out a useful chart on pregnancy dietary restrictions involving fish. It helps you determine which are your best choices and how frequently you can eat them safely.

Fish is an excellent source of quality protein and can offer many developmental benefits. The point isn’t to avoid all fish; it’s to become aware of the fish that can be harmful. Only some fish are categorized in the bad foods for pregnancy list. Because while tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel have among the highest levels of mercury, a dangerous element that could affect the development of your baby’s nervous system, other fish like salmon and anchovies can offer significant nutrition.

Avoiding fish altogether is one of the common myths of pregnancy diets. The protein is a delicious way to boost your Omega-3 fatty acids. Guiding expectant mothers towards a well-balanced diet — and learning what not to eat when pregnant — is part of the patient-doctor relationship at Women’s Care Florida.

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

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.

7 Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise is great for your body and overall health at any stage of life, including pregnancy. Some women have formed the impression that exercise can increase their risk for complications. However, experts debunked the idea that exercise harms pregnant women since this belief fueled the causes of excessive weight gain. Furthermore, there are many benefits of exercise during pregnancy for both mother and child. It can also stop you stop gaining too much weight during pregnancy. Providers recommend exercise for nearly all stages of pregnant women.

Unless your OB-GYN informed you not to exercise due to having a certain medical condition or high-risk pregnancy, find an exercise routine that you love and can stick with! Here are seven benefits of exercising during pregnancy:

  • Lowered risk for gestational diabetes
  • Less risk of gaining too much weight during pregnancy
  • Less baby weight to lose later on
  • Lowered risk for constipation
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Lowered risk for hypertension

Lowered risk for gestational diabetes

Another form of diabetes, you develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy which can increase your baby’s risk for diabetes or obesity later in life. Gestational diabetes can also lead to high baby birth weight. Furthermore, it can make delivery more difficult. Exercise can lower your risk for gestational diabetes by helping you maintain a normal, healthy weight throughout pregnancy.

Less risk of gaining too much weight during pregnancy

Other benefits of exercise during pregnancy are simply less weight gain. Of course, it’s normal and healthy to gain weight during pregnancy. However, gaining too much weight during pregnancy can increase your risk of complications during delivery. Exercise helps you gain minimal weight while pregnant.

Less baby weight to lose later on

Since exercising leads to less weight gain, you can benefit from having less weight to lose after your baby is born. Some women spend months, or even years losing the extra weight they gain during pregnancy, but exercise can help you avoid these woes.

Lowered risk for constipation

More benefits of exercise during pregnancy consists surprisingly of less constipation. Exercise promotes good blood flow and circulation. It also helps flush waste from your body. Since constipation is a common side effect of pregnancy, exercising regularly can promote regular bowel movements, and lower your risk for constipation.

Improved sleep patterns

If baby movements and changes in your body frequently lead to sleepless nights, exercise can naturally help improve your sleep patterns. Even on days you can’t fit in your full exercise routine, go for a walk for the sake of being active and promoting a good night’s sleep.

Lowered risk for hypertension

Exercise lowers your risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure, in a number of ways. First, it promotes better blood flow and circulation. Second, exercise naturally reduces stress, which can lead to high blood pressure. Hypertension increases your risk for a pregnancy condition called preeclampsia which can lead to premature birth and other complications during pregnancy.

Increased energy levels

Exercise increases your energy levels so you can devote more time to doing activities with your family, or to focus on achieving your goals at home or work. Try exercising first thing in the morning so you can benefit from lasting energy throughout the entire day.

The best way to start exercising is to do an activity you know you’ll enjoy the most. Consider signing up for prenatal yoga, or go for walks with your partner or friends. Then, as you start feeling more energetic, try new exercises, sports, and leisure activities that get your heart pumping.

Women’s Care Florida offers comprehensive, board-certified obstetrical care, including the special care of high-risk pregnancies. Learn more about the causes of excess weight gain and how to gain minimal weight while pregnant. Schedule an appointment with WCF today to benefit from a happy, healthy pregnancy.