Keeping You and Your Developing Baby Healthy

When you’re expecting a baby, what you eat and drink, the environment you live and work in, and your overall health can affect the life inside of you.

Follow the guidelines below—and let your partner know about them, too—for a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy:

Your Diet

Eat wisely and well. Research suggests that the quality of a mother’s nutrition during her pregnancy may have a lifelong impact on her baby’s overall health.

  • Eat a lot of dark, leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, etc.)—your best source of the folic acid that is so key to healthy fetal development.
  • Avoid raw or undercooked meats and seafood, as well as foods made from unpasteurized milk (including many soft cheeses).
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Take your daily prenatal multivitamin, which also contains folic acid. Research has found that pregnant women who take multivitamin supplements with folic acid lower their risk of having a low-birth-weight baby and birth defects, such as cleft palate.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Thyroid Association recommend that your daily prenatal multivitamin also contains 150 µg of iodine (or that you take a prenatal iodine supplement with this amount). Iodine is important to your thyroid levels. A deficiency could cause cognitive and psychomotor development problems in your baby.
  • Snack on healthy foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts. Limit foods high in sugar and carbohydrates (including juice and soda).

Tobacco, Alcohol and Coffee

  • Do not smoke, and avoid others who do. Smoking raises the risk of ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus), miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor and low birth weight. If you or someone you live with smokes, let us know. We can provide you with resources for quitting. Even if you’re already pregnant, quitting smoking can make a huge health difference.
  • Avoid all alcoholic beverages during your pregnancy. Despite what you may hear to the contrary, there is no definitive evidence that any amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. Even small amounts can lead to low birth weight, behavior issues and cognitive delays in your baby.

    If you didn’t know you were pregnant and had a drink or 2, don’t obsess over it. Most likely, you have not caused your developing baby any harm. Just don’t assume that a drink or 2 going forward is safe.

  • Drink caffeine in moderation. The American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now says that pregnant women can drink up to 200 mg of caffeine a day without worrying about risks of miscarriage or preterm birth.
    • An 8 oz cup of coffee has about 137 mg of caffeine
    • 8 oz of tea has about 48 mg
    • 12 oz of caffeinated soda has about 37 mg
    • 12 oz of hot cocoa has 8–12 mg

Health, Exercise and the Environment

Your health, physical activity and environment (where you live and work) also play a big role in a healthy pregnancy.

More about exercise and protecting your health when you are expecting.

More about your environment and your pregnancy.

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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