For New Mothers
- Continue all the good health habits you formed while you were pregnant. Eating right and getting regular exercise will help you feel good and get back in shape after giving birth. A healthy lifestyle may also reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.
- Eat a variety of foods each day from the MyPyramid..
- It is important for all women of childbearing age to consume extra amounts of a B vitamin called folate. Adequate folate intake during the several weeks before conception and during the first 4 weeks of pregnancy may help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
- If you smoke, consider quitting to improve your own health and to keep your baby healthy. Smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease, osteoporosis, and lung cancer. Babies and children who are around tobacco smoke have more colds and ear infections.
- Building strong bones while you are young (during your teens and until age 35) is the best protection against osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become fragile and break easily. One in every two women over age 65 suffers from osteoporosis, which frequently results in permanently disabling hip fractures. To build strong bones, you need calcium, vitamin D and regular exercise. You can get vitamin D from milk, fatty fish, and some fortified cereals. But you may need more. Ask your doctor about taking a supplement. Make exercise a habit.
Recommended Calcium Intakes for Women
(milligrams per day)
Age 11 to 24
1200 to 1500
Age 25 to 49
Pregnant or breastfeeding:
- Age 24 or under
- Over age 24
Source: National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel, Optimal Calcium
- Although milk products are the best source of calcium, you can also get calcium from calcium-fortified orange juice and other calcium-rich foods. Refer to the Foods High in Calcium chart for information about these foods. If you're not eating enough foods high in calcium, check with your health care provider or a registered dietitian about taking calcium supplements to get some of your calcium.
- Are you thinking about having another baby? Talk with your health care provider if you've had problem pregnancies or birth defects in your family or if you need to achieve a healthy weight. If you're overweight when you become pregnant, you have a higher risk of high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy. If you're underweight, you have a higher risk of having a baby with serious health problems due to low birth weight. See www.modimes.org (March of Dimes website) for more information on preparing for a healthy pregnancy.