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Nutrition

Becoming healthy before becoming pregnant:

Pre-conception nutrition is a vital part of preparing for pregnancy. Factors such as a woman's weight compared to her height and what she eats can play an important role in a mother's health during pregnancy and the health of her developing fetus.

Pre-pregnancy weight:

A mother's pre-pregnancy weight has a direct influence on her baby's birthweight. Studies show that underweight women are more likely to give birth to small babies, even though they may gain the same amount in pregnancy as normal weight women. Overweight women have increased risks for complications in pregnancy such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. Consult your physician about whether you need to lose or gain weight before becoming pregnant.

Pre-pregnancy nutrition:

Many women do not eat a well-balanced diet before pregnancy and may not have the proper nutritional status for the demands of pregnancy. Generally, a pregnant woman needs to add about 300 extra calories to meet the needs of her body and her developing fetus. However, those calories, as well as her entire diet, need to be healthy, balanced, and nutritious.

The food guide pyramid is a guideline to help you eat a healthy diet. The food guide pyramid can help you eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the following food pyramid to guide you in selecting foods.

Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children, USDA

The Food Pyramid is divided into 6 colored bands representing the 5 food groups plus oils:

Activity is also represented on the pyramid by the steps and the person climbing them, as a reminder of the importance of daily physical activity.

To find more information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 and to determine the appropriate dietary recommendations for your age, sex, and physical activity level, visit the Online Resources page for the links to the Food Pyramid and 2005 Dietary Guidelines sites. Please note that the Food Pyramid is designed for persons over the age of two who do not have chronic health conditions.

In addition to the pyramid food groups, the following nutrients should be included in a woman's pre-conception diet and continued into pregnancy:

Always consult your physician regarding your healthy diet and exercise requirements.

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