Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How should I change my eating habits in my first trimester?"
I want my baby to have everything right off the bat. I am a healthy 25 year old female. I have cut out all alcohol. What else should I do?
Thank you for your question, and congratulations. First of all, it is completely appropriate to stop drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol can cause irreversible brain damage and mental retardation, especially when taken at large quantities during early pregnancy, and the US Surgeon General recommends against any alcohol intake at all by pregnant women. In general, your nutritional needs for all nutrients will increase during pregnancy, in particular your needs for calcium (which helps your baby's bones develop), iron (which helps your baby's blood develop), and folic acid (which helps your baby's brain develop and reduces the risk of specific malformations known as "neural tube defects"). These are often difficult to meet with diet alone, and so for every woman supplementation with a prenatal vitamin, which contains increased folate and iron should begin as soon as possible (sometime even when people just start trying to get pregnant). Otherwise, it is especially important that you eat a well-balanced diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course, you should not take any medication without first asking a doctor, as certain medications can be very dangerous to developing babies. Prenatal vitamins are available over-the counter in most pharmacies, but your OB/GYN can also prescribe it for you. Regular prenatal care with an OB/GYN is an important part of having a healthy baby, and although not all problems can be prevented, your OB/GYN can help counsel you on the things you can do to help make sure your baby is healthy.
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