The Pregnancy Eat Right Guide

Double up on iron.

Iron helps produce hemoglobin (the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues), which is vital to your baby's growth. In your last trimester, the baby builds up iron reserves to last for four to six months after birth, until she starts eating iron-rich solid foods. "Fetuses are efficient parasites," says Joshua A. Copel, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and section chief of maternal fetal medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. "If there's not enough iron, the one who ends up deficient is the mother."

A pregnant woman needs 30 milligrams (mg) of iron daily; many prenatal supplements meet this amount. Still, aim to eat iron-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, spinach, and potatoes with the skin. Increase your body's iron absorption by eating vitamin C-rich foods (such as broccoli, peppers, or tomatoes) at the same time. Avoid coffee and tea with meals; they inhibit iron absorption. One downside: Iron may lead to constipation. For relief, eat high-fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

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