A healthy baby begins with the mother eating healthy

Published on Friday, 11 August 2017 13:59 - Written by PATRICE DUNAGIN, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Eating healthy foods and gaining weight during pregnancy is important for the mother’s health and the proper growth and development of the baby.

If the mother doesn’t gain enough weight, her baby may be born too small. This is called a low birth weight baby, and these babies have a greater risk of health problems. If the mother gains too much weight, her baby might grow too big, and this may cause problems during pregnancy and delivery.

A mother’s health-care provider will determine how much weight she should gain. If the mother was underweight before she became pregnant, she may need to gain more weight. If she was overweight before becoming pregnant, she may need to gain a little less.

The average total weight gain recommendation for a mother carrying one baby is 25 to 35 pounds. Where does that weight go?

Breast increase. . . . . . . 1 to 3 pounds

Blood increase. . . . . .3 1/2 to 4 pounds

Body fluids. . . . . . . . . . 2 to 3 pounds

Muscle and fat. . . . . . .8 to 10 pounds

Placenta. . . . . . . . . . . 1 to 1 1/2 pounds

Amniotic fluid. . . . . . . . 2 to 3 pounds

Baby. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 to 8 pounds

Uterus increase. . . . . .2 to 3 1/2 pounds

Expectant mothers don’t need to eat twice as much, just twice as wisely. The food the mother eats determines what nutrients the baby receives. Eating a variety of foods with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains can get your baby off to a good start.

Prior to becoming pregnant, a woman needs to increase her folic acid (this is a B vitamin) intake to help prevent some forms of spina bifida and other neural tube defects in her baby. The recommendations are 400 mcg of folic acid in vitamin form every day before becoming pregnant and during early pregnancy. Folic acid can also be found in leafy green vegetables and certain fruits and juices.

Having a healthy baby is every mother’s wish. Eating right, drinking plenty of water, getting regular exercise, getting plenty of rest and following your doctor’s recommendations are all ways to give your baby the best possible start.

For more information on this topic, contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCS agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 903-590-2980.