Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital
a patient or visitor a physician or healthcare professional an employer
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size

medical services home
women's services
search by doctor name 
Doctor Name Contains (Smart Search)
search by specialty

search by city/zip code
Find a doctor near your location by entering a city name OR ZIP code.

Within miles:
0 1 5 10 15 30 30+

search by insurance
Insurance Name Contains (Smart Search)
 (what's this)

nutrition for preconception

a guide to daily food choiceslifestyle changes10 questions for your OB/GYNgetting pregnant
nutrition for preconceptionfoods containing folic acidexercise guidelinesresources
how long does it take to conceive?is infertility hereditary?stress reduction

Eating right has never been more important. Preparing your body for pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Start eating right today!

Folic Acid and Pregnancy
Nutrition Basics
Dieting and Pregnancy
Caffeine and Pregnancy
Diet for Dads

Taking folic acid before you get pregnant can prevent birth defects. About 2,500 children are born with neural tube defects each year. If all women took folic acid before conception and during early pregnancy, the number of neural tube defects could drop as much as 70 percent.

Folic Acid and Pregnancy

What is folic acid, and why is it important?
Folic acid, also called folate, is a naturally occurring B vitamin. It is found in fruits, vegetables, fortified cereals and enriched bread products. Folic acid helps your body produce red blood cells and the chemical components of the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid works during the first few weeks of pregnancy when the neural tube is developing into the brain and spinal cord. This vitamin is most important to your baby right after conception, when you may not know you are pregnant.

Without enough folic acid, your baby could suffer serious neural tube birth defects. About 2500 babies are born with these defects each year. A common one is spina bifida, which leaves some children unable to walk. Spina bifida can also lead to anencephaly, causing the baby's death from the underdevelopment of the skull and brain.

How much folic acid do I need?
All women who could become pregnant should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, according to industry recommendations. Check with your doctor to verify the right dosage for you.

 There are many ways to get your daily dose:

  • Take a multivitamin containing 400 mg of folic acid
  • Ask your OB/GYN if you can start taking a prenatal vitamin
  • Eat a serving of cereal fortified with 400 mg of folic acid
  • Eat several servings of folic acid-fortified foods

What foods contain folic acid?
Folic acid is commonly found in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, liver, yeast breads and wheat germ. Some fortified cereals are good sources, too. Most enriched grain products-bread, flour, corn, grits, cornmeal, farina, rice, macaroni and noodles must be fortified with folic acid according to a new law. Foods containing Folic Acid

Back to the top

Nutrition Basics

Eating a well-balanced diet is more important than ever as you try to conceive. Poor nutrition can disrupt ovulation and impact your ability to get pregnant. Being severely underweight or overweight may make it more difficult to become pregnant.


The Food Guide Pyramid for Pregnant Women and Teens

 Back to the top

Dieting and Pregnancy

Try to reach your ideal weight before you try to get pregnant. Weight reduction during pregnancy is not recommended and can cause abnormalities and low birth weight for your baby. Overweight women risk high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy. Underweight women may have smaller babies and can have more difficulty during labor and recovery. Talk to your OB/GYN about your ideal weight, your eating habits and your use of vitamins or food supplements. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have an eating disorder. Achieve your ideal weight before pregnancy by eating well-balanced meals and exercising regularly.

 Back to the top

Caffeine and Pregnancy

Okay. You can have your morning coffee. But you will need to limit caffeine before conception and during pregnancy. It is recommended that women limit caffeine to no more than 150 milligrams of caffeine a day-that's two small cups of coffee. Some research links caffeine to lower conception rates.

Caffeine in Foods  
                                     Caffeine (mg)
Coffee (8oz)                           115
Decaffeinated coffee (8 oz)      5
Brewed Tea (6 oz)                  20-110
Iced Tea (12 oz)                     70
Cola (12 oz)                           30-56
Chocolate (2oz)                      10-50

 Back to the top

Diet for Dads

A healthy diet is just as important for future fathers as it is for women considering pregnancy. Poor eating habits can lower the quality and quantity of sperm production. Studies show that vitamin C, zinc and calcium are vital to healthy sperm production. Here are some nutritional guidelines for men:

  • Eat foods rich in vitamin C, at least 60 mg daily
  • Get enough zinc, at least 12-15 mg a day
  • Increase daily calcium intake to 1000 mg and vitamin D to 10 mg
  • Reduce or refrain from alcohol consumption

Back to the top 

quick links patient information health care professional information employer information connect with Advocate

About Advocate | Contact Us | Jobs | SiteMap | Terms of Use | Notice of privacy practices ®Advocate Health Care, Downers Grove, Illinois, USA | 1.800.3.ADVOCATE | TDD 312.528.5030