How What You Ate Before Pregnancy Affects Baby

profile picture of Anisa Arsenault
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
Jun 2018
woman preparing healthy meal with vegetables in kitchen
Photo: iStock

You’ve always known you’re _supposed _to eat healthy, but being conscious of your choices is easier when you’re eating for two. Kudos to you if you cut out the chips and candy before getting a positive pregnancy test; a study out of the University of Adelaide in Australia just confirmed that a healthy pre-pregnancy diet has amazing benefits for birth.

According to _The Journal of Nutrition, _women who consistently ate foods high in sugar and fat _before _conception were 50 percent more likely to experience preterm labor, compared to women with a diet high in fruit and protein.

“In our study, women who ate protein-rich foods including lean meats, fish and chicken, as well as fruit, whole grains and vegetables, had significantly lower risk of preterm birth,” says Jessica Grieger, PhD, the lead author of the study.

If you’re a mom-to-be who couldn’t force down veggies pre-pregnancy, don’t freak out; there’s still plenty you can do to have a healthy pregnancy. Getting at least 27 milligrams of iron per day can decrease the risk of preterm labor and low birth weight. Eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy, lean meats and lentils; they’re some of the best sources of essentials like folic acid, calcium, and protein, which help baby’s growth and development.

“Diet is an important risk factor that can be modified. It is never too late to make a positive change,” says Grieger. So whether you’re trying to conceive or in your second trimester, back away from the vending machine now.

What do you think are the best foods to eat while pregnant? 

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