Your body goes through numerous physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. The way you nourish your body during this time will affect your health and your baby’s. You must eat a healthful, balanced diet to help ensure you stay healthy throughout your pregnancy. The food you eat is your baby’s main source of nourishment, so it’s critical to consume foods that are rich in nutrients. Proper nutrition can help promote your baby’s growth and development.
Your body can’t function properly if it’s missing the nutrients from any of these food groups. Remember that your goal is to eat a wide variety of foods during pregnancy. Whenever possible, choose natural, low-fat foods over processed junk foods. Chips and soda, for example, contain no nutritional value. You and your baby will benefit more from fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, beans, or lentils.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to avoid all of your favourite foods during pregnancy. However, you must balance them with nutritious foods so that you don’t miss any important vitamins or minerals.
Including the following nutrients in your daily diet will help ensure that you satisfy your body’s nutritional needs during pregnancy.
Protein is critical for ensuring the proper growth of foetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps with breast and uterine tissue growth during pregnancy. It even plays a role in your increasing blood supply, allowing more blood to be sent to your baby.
You should eat three servings of protein per day. Good sources include:
Lean beef and pork, beans, chicken, salmon, nuts, peanut butter, cottage cheese
Calcium helps build your baby’s bones and regulates your body’s use of fluids.
Pregnant women need at least three servings of calcium per day. In pregnant teens, the recommendation is five servings. Good sources of calcium include:
Milk, yogurt, cheese, cabbage, eggs, pudding
Folate, also known as folic acid, plays an important part in reducing the risk of neural tube defects. These are major birth defects that affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
When you’re pregnant, you need 600 to 800 micrograms of folate. You can get folate from these foods:
Liver, nuts, dried beans and lentils, eggs, nuts and peanut butter, dark green leafy vegetables
Iron works with sodium, potassium, and water to increase blood flow. This helps ensure that enough oxygen is supplied to both you and your baby.
You should be getting 27 milligrams of iron per day. Good sources of this nutrient include:
Dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, enriched breads or cereals, lean beef and poultry, enriched breads or cereals, eggs, dried fruits
Aside from eating well, it’s important to drink at least eight glasses of water each day and to take prenatal vitamins. It’s difficult to obtain sufficient amounts of certain nutrients, including folate and iron, from food alone. Make sure to speak with your doctor about which prenatal vitamins you should take to ensure that you and your baby stay healthy.
The Don’ts in Pregnancy Nutrition
Don’t “eat for two”
Half of all women gain too much weight during pregnancy, according to recent studies; that’s up from 37 percent in 1993. Research suggests that when moms-to-be gain excess weight, the babies have a higher risk of obesity later in life, experts say. Plus, the mothers tend to retain extra weight after giving birth.
It’s crucial to base your pregnancy weight-gain goal on your height and pre-pregnancy weight. If you’re expecting twins and your pre-pregnancy body-mass index (BMI) was normal (18.5 to 24.9), experts now recommend gaining 37 to 54 pounds: 20 to 30 pounds by 20 weeks; 30 to 46 pounds by 28 weeks; and the rest in the last trimester.
If you’re carrying a single baby, you need approximately 340 extra calories per day in the second trimester and 450 extra in the third trimester. Doctors disagree on whether you need more calories in the first trimester; if you’re overweight, you likely don’t. But rather than count calories, simply eat until you feel satisfied, and not more. If you have a problem with portion control, seek the guidance of a registered dietician.
Don’t forget to drink at least 8 – 12 glasses of water a day
It is hard to stay hydrated when you are pregnant because a lot of the fluid you drink leaks from your blood vessels into your tissues. Yet, hydration is essential for preventing preterm labour; when you’re short on fluids, the body makes a hormone that simulates contractions. Staying hydrated also helps prevent headaches, kidney stones, dizziness and common pregnancy complaints such as constipation and haemorrhoids. You know you are well hydrated when your urine is light yellow to clear.
Edibles to also avoid
Alcohol, excessive caffeine, raw meats and seafood, high-mercury fish, uncooked processed meats, unpasteurised dairy