Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is very important since your body needs additional nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
What a lady eats and drinks amid pregnancy is her child’s fundamental wellspring of sustenance. Along these lines, specialists prescribe that a mother-to-be pick an assortment of sound nourishments and drinks to give the essential supplements an infant requires for development and advancement.
A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron, and protein than a woman who is not expecting, and a diet lacking in these key nutrients may negatively affect the baby’s development.
Poor eating habits and excess weight gain may also increase your risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy complications, and healthy, nutritious foods will help ensure the health of you and your baby.
Good nutrition will also make it a lot easier to lose the pregnancy weight after you’ve given birth.
Nutrients To Consume When You’re Pregnant
Here is why these four nutrients are important.
Folic Acid (also known as folate)
This nutrient is a B vitamin that is crucial in helping to prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord, known as neural tube defects.
It may be hard to get the recommended amount of folic acid from diet alone, and it is recommended that women who are trying to have a baby take a daily vitamin supplement containing 400 micrograms of folic acid per day for at least one month before becoming pregnant.
During pregnancy, women should increase the amount of folic acid to 600 micrograms a day, an amount commonly found in a daily prenatal vitamin. You can also get folic acid in leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, bread and pasta, beans, citrus fruits.
Calcium is a mineral used to build a baby’s bones and teeth, and if a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, the mineral will be drawn from the mother’s stores in her bones and given to the baby.
Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, and pregnant teens, aged between 14 and 18, need around 1,300 milligrams daily.
Food sources for calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified juices and foods, sardines or salmon with bones, and some leafy greens like kale, etc..
Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron a day, because, getting too little iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia, a condition resulting in fatigue and an increased risk of infections.
A good source of vitamin C at the same meal when eating iron-rich foods helps increase the absorption of iron.
Food sources for iron include meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereal.
Protein is needed is high during pregnancy, but most women don’t have problems getting enough protein-rich foods in their diets. Proteins help to build important organs in the baby, such as the brain and heart.
Foods to Eat When You’re Pregnant
Broccoli and Dark, Leafy Greens
Broccoli and dark, green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain many of the nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate, and potassium, required by pregnant women.
Broccoli and leafy greens are rich in antioxidants, and also contain plant compounds that benefit the immune system and digestion.
Consuming green, leafy vegetables has also been linked to a reduced risk of low birth weight, and due to their high fiber content, they may also help prevent constipation, which is a very common problem among pregnant women.
Legumes are excellent sources of fiber, protein, iron, folate (B9) and calcium, and include lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts, which your body needs more during pregnancy.
Folate is one of the B vitamins (B9) that is very important for the health of the mother and fetus, especially during the first trimester.
Legumes contain high amounts of folate and are generally very high in fiber. Some varieties of legumes are also high in iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a plant compound that is converted into vitamin A in your body, and vitamin A is essential for growth and the differentiation of most cells and tissues. Vitamin A is very important for healthy fetal development.
Pregnant women are generally advised to increase their vitamin A intake but are also advised to avoid very high amounts of animal-based sources of vitamin A, which may cause toxicity when consumed in excess.
Therefore, beta-carotene is a very important source of vitamin A for pregnant women, and sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes also contain fiber, which may increase fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes and improve digestive health and mobility
Dairy And Poultry Products
During pregnancy, you need to consume extra protein and calcium to meet the needs of the growing fetus, and dairy products contain two types of high-quality protein: casein and whey.
Dairy is the best dietary source of calcium and provides high amounts of phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.
Yogurt contains more calcium than most other dairy products, and people who are lactose intolerant may also be able to tolerate yogurt, especially probiotic yogurt.
Taking probiotic supplements during pregnancy may help reduce your risk of complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, vaginal infections, and allergies.
Similarly, eggs are the ultimate health food, as they contain a little bit of almost every nutrient a pregnant woman may need.
Eggs are a great source of choline, which is essential for many processes in your body, including brain development and health.
Low choline intake during pregnancy may increase the risk of neural tube defects and a possible decrease in brain function of the fetus.
One whole egg contains roughly 113 mg of choline, which is about 25% of the RDI for pregnant women (450 mg).
Whole grains are an important source of energy in the diet, and they also provide fiber, iron, and B-vitamins. Whole grains include oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta or bread, and brown rice.
During pregnancy, blood volume increases by up to 1.5 liters or about 50 ounces, making it very important to stay properly hydrated.
Symptoms of mild dehydration include headaches, anxiety, tiredness, bad mood and reduced memory, but increasing your water intake may help relieve constipation and reduce your risk of urinary tract infections, which are common during pregnancy.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid alcohol during pregnancy, as alcohol in the mother’s blood can pass directly to the baby through the umbilical cord. Heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
This group of condition (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) can include physical problems, as well as learning and behavioral difficulties in babies and children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Fish with High Levels Of Mercury
Seafood such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, and tilefish are high in levels of methylmercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. Methylmercury is a toxic chemical and can be harmful to an unborn baby’s developing brain, kidneys, and nervous system.
Pasteurization involves heating a product to a high temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Pregnant women are at high risk for getting sick from two different types of food poisoning: listeriosis, caused by the Listeria bacteria, and toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. This information is according to the USDA.
Listeria infection may cause miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, and illness or death in newborns, and to avoid listeriosis, the USDA recommends avoiding the following foods during pregnancy:
- Unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from raw milk
- Hot dogs, luncheon meats, and cold cuts
- Fast deli salads, such as ham salad, chicken salad, tuna salad and seafood salad.
Consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine a day is generally considered safe during pregnancy. This is the amount found in one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy does not appear to contribute to miscarriage or premature birth, but much of it can lead to complications.