In general, scientists agree that taking supplemental folic acid (up to 1,000 micrograms per day) is very unlikely to mask a B12 deficiency in young women who may become pregnant. Strict vegetarians are at greater risk for B12 deficiency (since B12 is found in animal products, like meat and dairy). If you follow a strict vegetarian diet, it’s very important to talk with your doctor about meeting your nutritional needs, particularly during pregnancy.
Breast milk provides the mix of nutrients that babies need for development. It supplies the right proportion of good proteins, carbohydrates and fats, including the omega-3 fats that may benefit a baby’s brain development. It’s believed that it also contains factors that support a baby’s immature immune system. What’s more, breastfeeding may help a woman return to her pre-baby weight. Six to eight of the pounds a woman gains during pregnancy are to ensure that she will be able to supply the energy needed to lactate: producing breast milk burns about an additional 500 calories per day.
For many women, eating bland starchy foods helps to alleviate the nausea and vomiting that are commonly referred to as “morning sickness.” Here are some other recommendations from the American Dietetic Association: Don’t skip meals, as morning sickness strikes most often when the stomach is empty; instead, try to eat small meals every two to three hours. Choose low-fat, high-protein foods, like lean meats and poultry and eggs in addition to trying bland carbohydrates, such as dry cereals, crackers, toast and fruit. Have a nutritious snack before bed to keep something in your stomach.
Related: Healthy Pregnancy Recipes