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Healthy Moms & Babies

What you eat is vital for yourself and your baby. The following list is just a beginning of what to eat or to avoid when pregnant. Check out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for more information on health and nutrition.

  • Folic Acid – Even before you become pregnant, make sure you are getting adequate amounts of folic acid (women need 400 micrograms per day). Folic acid helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, and may help prevent other common birth defects. You can get folic acid in a multi-vitamin, in fortified breakfast cereals, leafy green veggies, orange juice, and dried beans. Your healthcare provider may recommend increasing your folic acid intake during your first trimester.
  • Calcium – Eat foods rich in calcium, like milk, yogurt, and broccoli. You can also get calcium in a supplement. Ask your health-care provider if you need a supplement.
  • Eat a diet rich with fruit, vegetables, pasteurized dairy, whole grains, and lean meats (make sure they are fully cooked). If you eat eggs for protein, make sure they are fully cooked, with no runny yolks. Eat only milk or cheese that is pasteurized.
  • Do not eat cold cuts, deli meats, or ready-to-eat meats (like hot dogs) unless you reheat them thoroughly. These foods may expose you to a bacteria that causes food poisoning.
  • Fish is a great source of protein, but pregnant women need to avoid fish that may have high levels of mercury, for example, swordfish, albacore tuna, and raw fish or shellfish.
  • Drink water to help your digestion and to prepare your body for breast-feeding.
  • Ask your doctor to recommend a multi-vitamin to help you meet vitamin and mineral needs.
  • Do not use alcohol or illegal drugs, even small amounts. Alcohol and illegal drugs can cause birth defects ranging from mental retardation to physical defects to behavioral problems. They may also cause miscarriage, low birth weight, and stillbirth.
  • Stop smoking before you become pregnant, and do not expose your baby to second-hand smoke. Smoking will harm mom’s health, and leads to numerous risks for the unborn baby. Smoking can cause prenatal complications, health problems for new babies, stillbirth, cerebral palsy, and a myriad of other lifelong complications.
  • Love your kitty, but do not empty the litter pan during pregnancy to avoid the possibility of exposure to a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, which can put your baby at risk. Assign that chore to someone else for the time being.


Note: The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company provides this information to encourage women to seek prenatal care, and does not dispense medical advice.


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Last Updated: 12/14/2017