Every pregnant mom understands how vital proper nutrition during pregnancy is to the health of the little child growing inside her.
Below, we discuss everything you need to know about nutrition during pregnancy, including what foods you can or can’t eat. Because a pregnant mom looks after two lives, she needs a list of the right foods to eat and how much. She’ll need to know which will harm her growing child as well.
What Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
Eating the right foods is the key to ensuring proper nutrition during pregnancy. Experts from the pediatric and scientific fields advise that a pregnant mother eat these foods.
1. Dairy Products and Protein.
First of all is calcium, which fortifies a baby’s bones. Furthermore, it provides two types of protein, casein, and whey. It also contains high amounts of phosphorus, B Vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.
Greek yogurt, in particular, benefits pregnant women who are lactose intolerant. Also, it contains more calcium than other dairy products and improves digestive health.
Taking it also reduces complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and infections.
Legumes include lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, peanuts, and soybeans. These are rich sources of fiber, folate, protein, and calcium, all of which a growing fetus needs. They are also high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Folate prevents neural tube defects and is vital to the health of a mother and her child. Unfortunately, not enough pregnant women consume it.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have high amounts of beta carotene, which converts to Vitamin A. The body needs it for the growth of the fetus and the development of healthy fat. Therefore, pregnant women should increase their intake by 10 to 40%. High amounts can cause toxicity, so women should avoid animal sources of Vitamin A.
Sweet potatoes also contain fiber, which gives a feeling of fullness, reduces blood sugar spikes, and improves digestion.
Eggs are top health foods because they contain all the nutrients we need. A large egg has 77 calories, is rich in vitamins, and is the best protein for the body.
They are also an excellent Choline source; a large egg has 113 mg of Choline. The body requires this substance for health and brain development. Pregnant moms need it to prevent neural tube defects that may lead to decreased cognitive function.
5. Broccoli and Dark, Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are full of antioxidants. They also have plant compounds that benefit the immune system. Vegetables prevent constipation, essential during pregnancy. The best part about them is that they help to curb weight increase.
6. Lean Meat
Your favorite meats – beef, pork, and chicken- are rich protein sources. They also contain the iron, choline, and B Vitamins that a pregnant woman needs.
The body needs iron because it is part of the hemoglobin in red blood cells. It distributes oxygen to other parts of the body. Pregnant women need more iron because they have more red blood cells than those who aren’t in the family way.
Also, low iron levels during pregnancy may cause anemia. That increases the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. Vitamin C increases the body’s ability to absorb iron. Oranges and bell peppers are rich sources of Vitamin C.
7. Fish Liver Oil
Fish Liver Oil comes from the liver of fish, which has fat and oil. Manufacturers mainly use cod. It has Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, vital for brain and eye development. Fish liver oil also has a high Vitamin D content.
People don’t get enough of it. It is beneficial for those who don’t eat seafood. Low Vitamin D intake leads to preeclampsia, a potentially fatal pregnancy complication. Signs of this are swelling and high blood pressure.
It also results in low birth weight and protein in the urine. A single serving (one tablespoon or 15 ml) of fish liver oil provides more than the recommended daily intake of omega-3, Vitamin D and Vitamin A. Note that you shouldn’t consume more than one serving of Vitamin A.
Berries have water, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants, and VItamin C, which helps the body take in iron. They are healthy snacks because they have all the nutrients a person needs.
Berries have a relatively low glycemic index value, so they should not cause spikes in blood sugar. They also have very few calories.
Research suggests that women who take in fruit like berries are more likely to give birth to smarter children than those who don’t.
9. Whole Grains
Whole grains help pregnant moms meet calorie requirements, yet avoid putting on excess weight because they aid the digestive system. Unlike refined grains, they have fiber, vitamins, and phenols. They are also a source of B Vitamins, Folic Acid, Niacin, and Iron.
Whole grains like Oats and Quinoa have protein which is essential during pregnancy. They are a rich source of B Vitamins and Magnesium, which many pregnant women don’t include in their diets.
Salmon is a potent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, and supply your prenatal DHA. Pregnant women don’t get enough Omega-3 acids from their diets. The long-chain fatty acids, DHA and EPA, are essential for a pregnancy nutrition plan. They develop a baby’s brain and eyes.
You will find these in all types of seafood, but limit your intake to twice weekly, owing to the high mercury content in them. Salmon also boosts Vitamin D content, which the body needs for bone health and immune function.
Mangoes boost the baby’s health during pregnancy because they have Vitamin A, which develops a baby’s skin cell. They also aid in the development of the eyes, lungs, and immune system. Magnesium combats leg cramps that are common during pregnancy. The fiber and Pectin in them also lower cholesterol.
Which Foods You Have to Avoid During Pregnancy
It’s not enough for a pregnant mom to have a well-balanced diet. She has to know what foods to avoid too.
Pregnancy makes a woman prone to infections. Bacterial infection can lead to health complications for you and your baby. Here is a list of foods that dieticians recommend avoiding.
1. Soft Cheeses, Cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, and meat spreads
First of all, avoid soft cheeses like Camembert, Brie, and Gorgonzola. Pregnant mothers should avoid Liver Pate as well. These foods are full of bacteria known as Listeria, which cause food poisoning and stillbirths.
However, you don’t have to forgo cheese entirely. Try hard cheeses like Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan. Processed cheeses are also safe to consume during pregnancy but read the labels. The manufacturers should make them without pasteurized milk.
2. Undercooked or raw seafood, eggs, and meat
Avoid sashimi, eggs benedict, and medium-rare steaks because they expose you and your baby to bacteria like Salmonella, E Coli, and Listeria. Cook foods through to eliminate them, and serve hot. Bacteria multiply at room temperature.
3. Deep-Sea Fish
The FDA does not recommend fish like shark, swordfish, mackerel, and tilefish because they have high mercury levels that will hamper the development of your baby’s brain. Pregnant women should limit the consumption of such fish to once a week. Other fishes that contain high levels of mercury include snapper, monkfish, grouper, seabass, and tuna.
In all, ensure proper nutrition during pregnancy if you want your new baby to be healthy and happy. Remember these recommendations.