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Brighter Days: 5 Top Tips for Eating Better in Pregnancy

Jennifer Bright on

Whatever you put into your mouth -- chips and candy or carrots and cauliflower -- nourishes your baby as well. Common sense says you'd rather grow your baby on healthful foods than junk.

As a guideline, the March of Dimes recommends that in your first trimester you strive to eat six ounces of grains (such as breads, cereal, pasta and rice), 2.5 cups of vegetables, 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits, 3 cups of milk products (such as milk, yogurt and cheese) and 5 ounces of protein (such as meat, poultry, fish, peanut butter and eggs) each day. These amounts increase slightly in the second and third trimester.

During pregnancy, it's also important to drink enough fluids. By the time your baby is born, your blood volume will increase by up to 50%. Your heart works 40% harder than before you were pregnant to keep all of that blood moving. It's important to drink plenty of water (or other noncaffeinated beverages such as milk and juice) to stay hydrated.

Here's what our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- do to eat well during their own pregnancies.

"Before I got pregnant for the first time, I really overhauled my diet," says Sadaf T. Bhutta, M.D., a mom of a daughter and triplets and an assistant professor and the fellowship director of pediatric radiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children's Hospital, both in Little Rock. "I've never eaten as well in my entire life as I did during that pregnancy. I ate tons of greens and vegetables."

"Before I got pregnant and during my pregnancies, I tried to eat more healthfully," says Ashley Roman, M.D., MPH, a mom of two daughters and an associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City. "I tried to stick to what I call the pregnancy diet, which is eating well with a little bit of everything, a generally well-balanced diet. I tried to eat fish three times a week, and I ate some protein at every meal, including breakfast. I was all about my bacon-and-egg sandwiches; I had gone into my pregnancy underweight."

"I've always been a healthy eater, and I always tended toward whole, real, fresh foods," says Ann Kulze, M.D., a mom of two grown daughters and two grown sons; a nationally recognized nutrition expert, motivational speaker and the author of the best-selling book series "Eat Right for Life"; and a family physician in Charleston, South Carolina. "I focused on eating those foods while I was pregnant, and I remember avoiding empty calories like chips, doughnuts, and fast food. I knew those were not foods the baby needed!

"If I had known what I know now before I got pregnant, I would have been even more diligent in my nutrition choices," Dr. Kulze continues. "It's that important."


"When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was living on a spiritual commune called the Farm," says Hana R. Solomon, M.D., a mom of four and grandmom of eight, the author of "Clearing the Air One Nose at a Time: Caring for Your Personal Filter" and a pediatrician in Columbia, Missouri. "We grew all of our own organic food, and we ate only what we grew. For example, we grew soybeans, harvested them, and then made soy milk and tofu.

"When I was pregnant with my last baby, I was no longer living on the commune," Dr. Solomon continues. "In fact, I was in residency training, working 110 hours per week! But I continued to focus on eating reasonably healthy. If there are 27 ingredients on the box and you can't pronounce them, you probably shouldn't be eating whatever is in that box."

"Before I got pregnant, my husband put together a laminated card of the foods I was supposed to eat," says Ellen Kruger, M.D., a mom of two and an OB-GYN in an academic and clinical practice in New Orleans. "Being so restrictive about what I should be eating made it even harder to eat well. Absolute guidelines often send us running in the other direction. My husband's plan for me was a dismal failure.

"I think that good nutrition is a matter of common sense and moderation," Dr. Kruger adds. "When I was pregnant, I tried to eat more healthy foods than not, and I tried to eat all foods in moderation."


Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, founding CEO of woman- and veteran-owned custom publisher Bright Communications LLC, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years" and six other books in the Mommy MD Guides series. She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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