Submitted Date 04/19/2019

I talk with new moms daily and one of the most important things that we talk about is what you should and shouldn't eat during pregnancy.

Most of the time a pregnancy is a surprise so even if you aren't planning on getting pregnant, if there is a chance, you have to prepare your body for that chance. Even if you are on birth control, it is never 100% percent accurate.

There is a reason that if you talk with your baby doctor about getting pregnant, they will tell you to start taking prenatal vitamins before conception. The reason is prevention. Prevention of spina bifida and maintaining adequate iron levels.

Most of the vital organs are developed within 10 weeks of conception.

First trimester- found at:

3 wks

Your baby-in-the-making is a ball of cells called a blastocyst. The blastocyst already contains a full set of DNA from you and your partner, which determines sex, eye color, and other traits.

4 wks

The ball of cells has officially become an embryo and is about the size of a poppy seed. Over the next six weeks, all of your baby's organs will begin to develop, and some will start to function.

5 wks

Your baby's tiny heart begins to beat – at twice the rate of yours. His entire "body" is only about the size of a sesame seed.

6 wks

Facial features (like eyes and nostrils) are beginning to form, and little buds appear where arms and legs will develop.

8 wks

Arms and legs are growing, and your baby now has little fingers, as well as a nose and upper lip. He's moving quite a bit now, but you won't feel it. He's about 5/8 of an inch long and weighs hardly anything – four-hundredths of an ounce.

9 wks

Eyes have developed, though your baby's eyelids are fused shut for now. She's lost her "tail" and is starting to look more human.

10 wks

The embryo has become a fetus. His vital organs – such as kidneys, intestines, brain, and liver – are starting to function. Tiny fingernails and toenails are starting to form.


The problem with this, is that most women don't know that they are pregnant until this point. So planning to start prenatal care at the time of finding out is too late. Eating a healthy, well balanced diet during pregnancy helps the baby get what it need along with taking prenatals.

"According to the March of Dimes, the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, about 3,000 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects in the United States each year. If all women took at least 400 micrograms of folic acid before and during pregnancy, the number of defects would decrease by about 70%."

Information found at:

Folic Acid (Folate): a B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects of the baby's brain and spine (neural tube defects). Some foods that have folic acid are:

-Enriched grain products (cereal, bread, pasta, rice)

-Dark leafy green veggies

-Beans and legumes

-Citrus fruit

Iron: Extra iron is needed during pregnancy because it is needed to make new red blood cells. By the end of the pregnancy, you will gain 2-3lbs of blood. The reason for this, is that red blood cells carry oxygen and as baby grows, the body needs more red blood cells to carry that oxygen for mom and baby. Along with making new red blood cells, baby is taking iron for themselves for a six weeks storage for themselves for after they are born while they learn to feed. Some foods that have iron are:

-Lean meats, poultry, and fish

-Iron-fortified breakfast cereal


-Dark leafy green veggies

-Dried Fruits


Along with food that you should eat, there are a few foods to avoid. When you are pregnant, your ability to fight infection is lower than normal. Along with the mom, the baby's immune system is not fully developed. Because of these reasons, you have to be aware of food safety. Listeria, toxoplasma, and mercury in fish are the health risks you need to watch out for.

Listeria: a harmful bacteria found in some refrigerated ready-to-eat foods. It's found in raw meat, unpasteurized milk and milk products, deli meats, hot dogs, and soft cheeses. To prevent illness don't consume raw juice or milk and throw away any food that has expired. Reheat hot dogs and lunch meats until steaming hot.

Toxoplasma: a parasite that can cause an infection than can be passed to the unborn baby. It's found in undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and veggies, and cat feces. To prevent getting sick you have to wash your hands after touching soil, sand, unwashed fruits and veggies, and raw meat. You have to wash and peel fruits and veggies before eating them and have someone else change the cat litter box or wear gloves.

Mercury: can harm the developing nervous system in a baby. Mercury is found in fish so it is best to just stay away from fish during pregnancy or to just consume low mercury fish like shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock, and catfish once a week or less.

Caffeine: caffeine is found in pop, coffee,and tea. The recommended daily value during pregnancy is 400mg which is equivalent to 1 cup. The reason for this is because at 6 weeks, baby's heart is beating twice as fast as yours. When you drink caffeine, your heart starts to beat faster and baby has to keep up. When you have too much caffeine, baby can't keep up and it can cause a miscarriage. It is really important to stay away from energy drinks, excessive amount of coffee, and tea.

The point of this is really, education. I talk with a lot of women to genuinely had no idea that they were pregnant, or frankly, were in denial until they were in their second or even third trimester. As women who is sexually active, it is our responsibility to be aware and prepare for life when it is a possibility.

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  • Tomas Chough 5 months ago

    Wow this is so insightful! It's good to know these things even though I'm a guy. Thanks for sharing Adrienne!

  • Kiersten Felch 5 months ago

    I'm pregnant for the second time so I feel like I already knew most of this but I love being reminded that I'm smart haha. Thanks for such an informative piece.

  • Ceara 4 months, 4 weeks ago

    So informative and comprehensively written!

  • Miranda Fotia 4 months, 2 weeks ago

    Great info! I am currently 31 weeks pregnant, so it is very relevant for me!