slideshow Home About Us Healthcare Providers MamaSana.org
This site Web
#
Women's Health Pregnancy After Pregnancy Baby's Care & Development Infant Safe Sleep/SIDS Child Health Insurance Medical Home Publications Volunteer Opportunites Donate to Us

Women's Health
Eat healthy and get folic acid

Eating healthy is important for everyone. A healthy diet helps protect against certain diseases and provides energy to the body. Poor nutrition before getting pregnant and during pregnancy can cause a baby to grow too slowly during pregnancy (growth retardation). Growth retardation can lead to premature (early) birth, fetal distress, or death. Poor nutrition can also increase the risk of some birth defects of the spinal cord and brain. Opens in new window Learn more about nutrition and resources available to pregnant women.

Eat Healthy

Follow these daily guidelines for a healthy diet:

  • Include a variety of fruits and vegetables
    • New Opens in new window guidelines recommend two cups fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables per day
  • Limit the amount of fat you eat
    • Choose meats lower in fat
    • Cut down on or cut out fried foods
    • Keep trans fats as low as possible
  • Get enough fiber
    • Whole grains (such as whole wheat bread, bran muffins, and oatmeal), beans, fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
    • Eat 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day
  • Include calcium in your diet every day.
    • Low-fat dairy products such as 1% milk, yogurt and low-fat cheeses are good choices
  • Limit alcoholic beverages
    • If you drink, limit the amount you drink. Avoid binge drinking (5 or more drinks within a few hours)

Pay particular attention to getting enough calcium, iron and folic acid. For more specific information, talk to your doctor or nurse, or ask them to refer you to a nutritionist in their practice or at the local health department.

Get Folic Acid

Taking folic acid, a B vitamin, is recommended for women (and men) ages 14 to 60+ years. Getting 400 micrograms of folic acid in a daily multivitamin before getting pregnant, can reduce the risk of some serious birth defects (like neural tube birth defects) by 50 to 70 percent. Folic acid taken throughout life can help lower the risk of heart attacks, stroke and some cancers.

To learn more about the benefits of folic acid, see Why "get folic?" and visit the Opens in new window N.C. Folic Acid Council's Web site. For a handy guide to sources of folic acid, download a copy of Opens in New window " Love Your Body Love Yourself." (If this piece takes too long to download, see the Opens in new windowplain text version.)

Be a Healthy Weight

For women who want to increase their chances of having a healthy pregnancy, an important step is to have Opens in new window a body weight that is in the "normal range" for their size before they get pregnant.

Women who are underweight before they get pregnant are at greater risk of having their baby born with a low birthweight (less than five and a half pounds). These babies may be born too small to be healthy or to survive. Women who weigh too little need to eat more healthy foods and try to gain weight before getting pregnant.

Women who are overweight or obese before they get pregnant are at greater risk of having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) and other complications. These babies have an increased risk of having some birth defects. Women who weigh too much need to learn to eat healthy foods and exercise, so they can lose weight before getting pregnant.

For more specific information, talk to your doctor or nurse, or ask them to refer you to a nutritionist in their practice or at the local health department.

Other Links

North Carolina

Opens in new windowNC Preconception Health Campaign

Opens in new windowWIC County Directory - WIC offices around the state

National

Opens in new windowMarch of Dimes - Information on Folic Acid

Opens in new windowWomen's Health

Opens in new windowDietary Guidelines for Americans 2015

Opens in new windowChoose My Plate

For more health information, search MedlinePlus

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

Back to top

Last updated: January 2014

 
View this page in Spanish
printer
bookmark

Text4baby link

More Info

My Health Journal
This publication will help you keep all of your health information updated and in one place. You can download My Health Journal in word format to your computer for personal use.
Opens in new window Word format (for download)
Opens in new window PDF version (3.98 MB)*
Opens in new window Plain text version

Keeping It Real
This 8-page brochure is packed with current information about HIV and is designed to educate and empower women.
Opens in new window PDF version (323 KB)*
Opens in new window Plain text version

My Personal Health Pledge Card
Get your Great 8 Checkups!
Opens in new window PDF version (1.57 MB)*

Taking Care of Me
This self-help guide gives postpartum women practical health tips on emotional health, stress, nutrition, exercise, family planning and reproductive health, and alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Opens in new window PDF version (488 KB)*
Opens in new window Plain text version
Note: Download time (approximate): dial-up of 56 K- approximately 1 minute; DSL - 15 seconds.

Choices: Health Matters for Women
This magazine addresses some of the tough choices women nake that affect their health. Topic include: smoking, drinking, drug use, relationships, food cravings, stress and more.
Opens in new window PDF version (529 KB)*
Opens in new window Plain text version

Each item opens in a new browser window Opens in new window.

*If the PDF download time is too slow, try the plain text version. If your computer can't open the PDF version, download Opens in new windowa FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader.

| About this site | Accessibility | Privacy policy
© 1999-2014 N.C. Healthy Start Foundation