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Prenatal Nutrition

Vanessa T.
Pediatric Dietitian
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Which nutrients are most important to look for in a prenatal vitamin? Can I drink unpasteurized juice while I am pregnant or nursing? What foods should I avoid to reduce heartburn? Ask these questions and more to Registered Dietitian, Vanessa T.

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Food while breastfeeding


Are there certain foods or drinks that you are supposed to avoid when nursing?


Hi Meghan,

The short answer to your question is no, you don't have to avoid anything while nursing.

That being said, you should practice moderation-- especially with things like alcohol, caffeine and some fish.

Alcohol and caffeine can pass through your breast milk, so it is best to stick with one serving after you nurse, then ideally wait another 2 hours before nursing again.

Some fish is high in mercury, which can be dangerous for your baby (and isn't great for anyone to consume anyway!). The recommendation is to stick with two 6 oz servings of low mercury fish like salmon and tilapia per week and avoid high mercury fish like shark and swordfish. You can read more about that here:

Finally, some moms feel that baby becomes fussy or uncomfortable after mom she has eaten certain foods before nursing. A common example is a gassy baby after mom eats broccoli. There isn't good scientific evidence to support this connection, but if you feel your baby does better when you avoid certain foods, it is always best to listen to your bodies and find healthy alternatives.

Hope this helps!


Vitamins with DHA?


Is it safe to use prenatal vitamins with DHA? I've heard that fish oils can be dangerous but have also read that Omega-3 fatty acids are good both the mom and the baby.


Hi Rhonda,

You’re right- omega 3s are good for you and baby! Research suggests that adequate omega 3 intake may reduce risk of depression in Mom and help with fetal brain and eye development. There’s some evidence that sufficient omega 3 intake can help you carry your child to full term.

The current recommendation is for pregnant women to get ~200 mg of omega 3 fatty acids daily. Fish is the best food source of Omega 3 fatty acids, but pregnant women need to be careful because of the high mercury content in our fish supply, which can be damaging to the fetal development. The current guidelines are for pregnant women to eat two 6 ounce servings of low mercury fish like salmon, tilapia, cod, etc.

A prenatal vitamin with DHA can also be a great and safe way to meet this need. Most brands add 200-300 mg per daily multivitamin and the mercury content of this processed fish oil is very low. This is a great way to meet the needs of you and your baby without the additional risk of mercury toxicity.

Let me know if you have more questions!