Q & A Nourishing Your Pregnancy


Q. I have terrible morning sickness! This is my first pregnancy and I don’t know how to get rid of it.

A. The good news is most women only have morning sickness from about week 10 to week 16 during pregnancy. The bad news is that the cause of morning sickness is not completely understood. There are a few things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms. Try keeping saltine crackers at your bedside and eat three to six crackers before getting out of bed. Eating your meals without liquids can also help. Another idea is to eat before you actually feel hunger — eating while you are feeling well can help prevent the nausea from developing. Lastly, change your prenatal vitamin if it is causing you to feel nauseous, or take it at different times of the day. You might find you tolerate one vitamin better than another.

Q. I’m pregnant and my doctor prescribed iron supplements, but they make me constipated. What foods are high in iron so I don’t have to take the pills?

A. You are in luck; there are many foods high in iron including beef, pork, dried fruits, dried beans and peas, and cereals with 100 percent of the RDA for iron. Iron absorption is improved by Vitamin C, so include citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes at the same time as your iron foods. But if increasing your intake of iron rich foods does not get your iron levels up, be sure to start back with the supplementation. Research has found a connection between low-iron status of mothers and poor mental development of their children.
There are other things you can do to help with constipation if you choose to continue with the iron supplementation. Insoluble fiber is very effecting in alleviating constipation and can be found in foods such as vegetables, dried fruits and whole grains. Additionally, physical activity and water will help with keeping everything moving, so try to incorporate more walking and water into your day.

Q. I love my Starbucks but I am pregnant! Can I drink coffee or do I have to cut it out completely?

A. You don’t have to cut caffeine out completely but it is a good idea to monitor your intake. I recommend pregnant women consume no more than 200 mg. of caffeine in a day. This means you can drink one Starbucks Tall Brewed Coffee, Grande Latte or Doppio Espresso safely. Dark chocolate typically has no more than 50 mg. per serving while milk chocolate only has about 15 mg. and coffee-flavored ice creams contain less than 75 mg. of caffeine per serving. Brewed tea contains around 100 mg. per serving while soda has less than 75 mg. So drink up, but keep it in moderation!

Q. I was told I can’t eat “soft cheeses” anymore now that I am pregnant and I love cheese! What does that mean?

A. It is important for individuals who are pregnant, and those with weakened immune systems, to avoid “soft cheese” due to the risk of bacterial contamination of the cheese. Soft cheeses that have been made in the U.S. are usually safe because the milk has been pasteurized. However, take caution with imported cheeses such as brie, Roquefort, blue, camembert, feta, etc. If you must eat soft cheeses, be sure the cheese has been cooked completely (to the point of bubbling), such as on a pizza, in a fondue or in a sauce. An easy way to play it safe — make sure every dairy product you buy has “pasteurized” on the label.

Q. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for awhile now; is there anything I can do nutritionally to help increase my chances?

A. There is so much you can do! First, ensure you are at a healthy weight for your height — this will decrease weight-related infertility as well as put you in a better position to carry a child when you are pregnant. There are also a number of things you might want to consider cutting out/down on including alcohol, sugar, trans fats and caffeine. As for the foods, increase your intake of vitamin- and antioxidant-packed foods such as fruits and vegetables. You should also be sure you are eating dairy sources, whole grains and iron rich foods every day. And don’t forget about a good prenatal vitamin. Best of luck!

Mary D. Brown is a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian nutritionist with Budding Baby (www.buddingbaby.com), a local practice specializing in nutrition care of women and children.