Health Watch - Pregnancy and Birth: Nutrition

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about what you can do to improve your chances for a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. One of the things prospective mothers should do is look at their nutrition and eating habits.

A woman’s nutritional needs change during pregnancy. She may need more of some nutrients, but other nutrients can be dangerous in higher amounts. Dr. Victor Beshay, a fertility specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says prenatal vitamins provide the right balance of nutrients, but they aren’t a substitute for a healthy diet. A pregnant woman may need extra folate, iron and vitamin C. It’s generally not necessary to supplement vitamin A during pregnancy, but it should be in the form of beta-carotene rather than retinol if it is taken.

A vitamin regimen should begin several months before conception. Mothers should be careful about where they store prenatal vitamins if they have young children in the home because the high iron levels make them toxic to small children.


March 2011

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