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Prenatal Nutrition

The physiological changes that occur throughout a healthy pregnancy can result in a multitude of symptoms.  These may include morning sickness, constipation, fatigue, and more.  Many of these symptoms can be managed with some slight modifications of the diet.  

"Morning" sickness occurs in approximately 50% of pregnancies.  Some women experience aversions to tastes and smells.  Some women feel slightly nauseous.  Others experience vomiting, occasionally severe enough to lead to dehydration.  One tip for combating these bothersome symptoms is to never allow yourself to feel famished or full.   Eat small meals frequently.  Keep a box of crackers next to the bed to munch on first thing in the morning.  Try to remain comfortably satisfied.

Frequent small meals will also help to alleviate the symptoms of fatigue that occur most predominantly in the first and third trimesters.  This dietary behavior allows blood sugar levels to remain constant.  This will decrease fluctuations in energy levels that often occur throughout the day.  High protein foods and complex carbohydrates provide longer lasting energy than foods high in simple sugars.  Choose whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, nuts, eggs and fruits and vegetables over their modified counter-parts, like white rice and bread.

A good rule of thumb in order to prevent dehydration and constipation is to drink half of your weight in ounces.  For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you need to drink 65 ounces of fluid each day.  Caffeinated beverages are counterproductive.  They are actually diuretic in nature and should be limited.     

The high progesterone levels that are required to maintain a healthy pregnancy also cause smooth muscle relaxation in the gastro-intestinal tract, thus slowing digestion.  As a result, constipation and heartburn often occur.   Choosing foods high in fiber such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables may alleviate the extent of discomfort.

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