Being pregnant for the first time will no doubt change a woman’s diet and raise many first-time questions about nutrition. Alvarado Hospital’s nutritionist Christine McClendon, who is pregnant herself, offers nutritional tips to help other expectant mothers experience a healthy pregnancy.

Take a prenatal vitamin that includes folate, preferably even before getting pregnant. Folate is crucial during the first few weeks of pregnancy, during a time when most women don't even know they are pregnant yet. Getting enough folate prevents spina bifida and similar conditions. You can get this from leafy green vegetables and enriched grains, in addition to your prenatal vitamin. Pregnant women should get 400 micrograms of folate per day.

Avoid any questionable meats, including deli meats, sushi and raw meats. These can contain listeria monocytogenes which is a very harmful bacterium that can cause miscarriage. There are other parasites in raw fish that are harmful, and of course poultry often carries pathogens like e coli and salmonella. All animal products should be thoroughly cooked.

Avoid unpasteurized dairy products like queso fresco and raw milk. There have been several recent outbreaks of tuberculosis in fresh cheeses from Mexico. Fresh cheeses coming from Mexico are often not regulated or inspected, so you can put yourself at risk by eating these. Also, there have been outbreaks of campylobacter in raw milk. Even though raw milk is tested regularly, there is always an increased risk of contamination compared to pasteurized milk because the bacteria haven't been killed by the pasteurization process.

Drink caffeine in moderation, usually 1 cup a day is recommended. This is especially important during the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is highest. Caffeine also may result in dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water along with your daily cup of coffee.

Stay active. You can exercise moderately as long as your doctor approves. If you enjoy a physical activity, by all means continue this if you can. This helps you achieve a more gradual weight gain, helps in the labor/delivery process and, in the long run, allows you to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Be sure to modify any activity to accommodate your changing body and keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute. Make sure you are able to carry a conversation during your workout, otherwise you may be working out to hard.

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