How does diet impact pregnancy and baby health?

During pregnancy, the old adage “You are what you eat” takes on heightened significance. An expectant mother’s food and beverage choices have the potential to impact the health of the growing baby both positively and negatively. Cravings can sometimes be signals that point to foods with the nutrients your body and your baby need during a particular phase of fetal development.

But it’s important to use discretion in honoring those signals, so cravings don’t become an excuse to overindulge. Why? Because obesity poses a serious health threat during pregnancy. A gain of more than 40 pounds raises the risk for a number of complications, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension. Other risks of excess pregnancy weight gain include congenital malformations and an increased likelihood of the child becoming overweight later in life.

According to the March of Dimes, normal-weight women should gain only 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, and overweight women just 15 to 25 pounds. So, it’s important for moms-to-be to find a healthy balance between indulging their cravings and resisting them -- and to make sure that, regardless of the foods they’re drawn to, they get plenty of the nutrients that are vital for their health and their baby’s healthy development.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.