Prenatal Nutrition

by Guest
Posted July 26 2010 10:01pm
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Maintaining a healthy diet when you're pregnant is very important.

Maintaining a healthy diet when you're pregnant is very important. What you eat gives your baby the nutrition she'll need to grow and be healthy. This booklet will help you understand how much you should eat, what you should be eating and it answers many of the most common questions that parents have about prenatal nutrition.

Download Healthy Eating for a Healthy Baby (PDF).

Used with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.


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Does what I eat during pregnancy affect the development of my baby’s brain?

by Guest
Posted August 1 2010 03:24pm
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It is important that families provide an environment that supports health in both everyday life and nutrition. Good nutrition is important for both the pregnant mother and her baby. Pregnant mothers need appropriate amounts of folic acid and iron and should avoid nicotine, alcohol and illicit drugs throughout their entire pregnancy.

The developing brain craves iron and babies need an appropriate amount whether or not their mothers are iron-deficient. Iron is critical for maintaining an adequate number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, which in turn are necessary to fuel brain growth. Iron deficiency has been clearly linked to cognitive deficits in young children.

Learn more about your baby's brain development before birth

Used with Permission
Talking Reasonably and Responsibly About Early Brain Development
Center for Early Childhood Education and Development, Irving B Harris Training Center for Infant and Toddler Development 2001

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Caffeine & Pregnancy

by Guest
Posted August 1 2010 03:26pm
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When you are expecting it is important to cut back on your caffeine. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, some soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and sometimes in supplements and medications.

Why is caffeine a concern? It can drain calcium from your body and interfere with absorbing iron and  both of these nutrients are needed for your developing baby.  Substantial quantities can also pass into the amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood. (1) Your developing baby does not have the enzymes needed to process caffeine so the caffeine remains in your baby’s body for a longer period of time. Some studies have linked an intake of more than 150 mg/dl with a small risk of spontaneous abortion and lower birth weights in babies.

You should try to consume less than 150 milligrams per decalitre (mg/dl) of caffeine per day, this is equal to 1.5 cups (250ml or 8 oz) of coffee, while you are pregnant and continue to keep caffeine intake low while breastfeeding. Large amounts of caffeine in breast milk can cause irritability and sleep difficulties in your baby.

How much caffeine is in common sources, such as coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate?

Coffee (200ml or 6 oz cup)
Percolated 72-144 mg of caffeine
Drip 108-180 mg of caffeine
Instant 60-90 mg of caffeine

Tea (200ml or 6 oz cup)
Weak – 18-24 mg
Strong -78-108 mg

Varieties of Pop (one 12 oz can/335ml) may contain 28-64 mg of caffeine

Chocolate Bar of 2 oz/60 g
Dark 40-50 mg of caffeine
Milk 3-20 mg of caffeine


*Source for common source quantities: Health Canada- Caffeine in Pregnancy

(1) Exposure to Psychotropic Medications and Other Substances during Pregnancy and Lactation: A Handbook for Health Care Providers. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Motherisk.

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Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted August 10 2010 01:51pm
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Wondering if you can eat that shrimp appetizer? Pregnant women do need to be careful about what they eat since various foods and even herbal remedies can contain parasites or cause food poisoning. 

Herbal Remedies

Talk to your doctor before you take any herbals – the jury is still out on whether natural remedies are safe for pregnant woman. But there are some remedies pregnant women should avoid because of known side effects (such as allergic reactions or vomiting).

They include:

  • aloes
  • black cohosh
  • burdock
  • calendula
  • castor
  • chaste tree
  • comfrey
  • feverfew
  • ginseng
  • golden seal
  • hops
  • dong quai
  • juniper
  • kava
  • licorice
  • lobelia
  • parsley
  • passion flower
  • pennyroyal
  • rosemary
  • rue
  • skullcap
  • tansy
  • valerian
  • uva-ursi
  • wild yam

Note: parsley and rosemary in cooking are safe in small amounts.


Cut back your caffeine (found in coffee, tea, colas and chocolate) because it drains calcium from your body and interferes with absorbing iron.


Avoid fish with methylmercury, a neurotoxin that can cause brain damage in the baby. While light canned tuna, sardines, anchovies and salmon as well as many white fish (including bass, mackerel, sole, snapper and even shrimp) are considered okay to eat, avoid tuna steaks, large predatory fish such as shark, king mackerel, swordfish, Tilefish, Walleye and Muskellunge.

Limit eating of canned white, albacore or bluefin tuna, bluefish, grouper, lobster and orange roughy to once a month.

Food-Bourne Illnesses

Say no to hot dogs, deli meats (okay to eat if they have been reheated), soft or blue-veined cheeses, refrigerated pate and smoked seafood (okay to eat if it’s in a cooked meal though.) These may cause food poisoning such as listeriosis or toxoplasmosis, both of which put you and your baby’s health at risk.


If you're pregnant or thinking about having a baby, check out www.welcometoparenting.com. These interactive, online prenatal and parenting classes will provide information on pregnancy, labour and delivery, your relationship and a community of expectant and new parents just like you! Watch the overview video!



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