First of all, if you're expecting--CONGRATULATIONS! :) Or perhaps you're hoping to be sometime in the next few years?

Many women know there are many ways to optimize lifestyles and nutrition if expecting. After all, your baby's main source of nutrition comes from what the expectant mother is eating. Research also shows that engaging in these good habits and eating the kinds of foods that are great for both you and the baby ahead of time can be very helpful. (Oh and guys, what you eat matters, too. It all contributes to the health of both parents, which can help to give your baby a boost.)

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According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, if you're pregnant, you'll need more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein. So you'll definitely want to make sure you're getting enough of these through your diet, and in some cases, supplements.

Foods to eat:

Veggies and Fruit. Despite the fact we all know we should be eating more of these, it bears repeating again and again. If you're expecting, even more so. Aim to make fruit and especially veggies a much larger part of your plate ratio every day. Not only are these foods low in calories, but they are filled to the brim with those beautiful nutrients and fiber.

Whole grains. Sadly, whole grains have a bit of a bad reputation these days. But, unless you're one of the very few people who are actually glucose-intolerant, they are a excellent part of a healthy diet. You'll also get tons of fiber, iron, and those very important B-vitamins. Sarah Krieger, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman on prenatal nutrition for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in St. Petersburg, Florida, told "at least half of a pregnant woman's carbohydrate choices each day should come from whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta or breads and brown rice."

Lean protein. Protein is a building block for helping your baby's organs and muscles grow. Make sure you're getting enough at each meal. Good sources? Beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, poultry, etc.

Foods to avoid:

There are also some things you'll want to avoid or keep to a minimum while pregnant, such as caffeine, alcohol, unpasteurized food, raw meat, and certain types of fish due the risk of mercury contamination which can wreak heartbreaking havoc on your developing baby. Maybe leave the sushi alone until your baby is born.

You may also consider supplements that nutritionists and doctors deem crucial. Some of these include:

Folic acid, choline, and omega-3 fatty acids. There's a reason these are so highly recommended. Supplementing your diet with folic acid has been proven to provide some protection against developing birth defects. According to some recent studies, women who eat a diet rich in choline while pregnant tend to have babies tend to grow up with a better memory and processing skill. Food rich in choline include legumes, cruciferous veggies, nuts, poultry, and egg yolks.

Ready to delve deeper? Read more here.

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