The primary source of the baby’s nourishment during pregnancy is what a woman eats and drinks in those nine months. Hence, pregnant women should include healthy beverages and foods from different food groups to provide the vital nutrients a baby requires for healthy growth and development. During pregnancy women need more nutrients than when they were not expecting.
Four Most Crucial Nutrients During Pregnancy
Pregnant women need double the amount of iron they need when not expecting. They require 27 mg daily, according to the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologist (ACOG).
Pregnant women require an additional supply of iron to make more blood for the baby’s oxygen supply. Too little iron could result in anemia, a condition that results in an increased risk of infections and fatigue.
Hence, pregnant women should eat more iron-rich foods and vitamin C to increase iron absorption. For instance, while enjoying a bowl of iron-fortified cereal, include a glass of orange juice as well. More food sources of iron include poultry, meat, fish, peas, and dried beans.
This is a B vitamin that is very important in curbing congenital disabilities in the unborn baby’s spinal cord and brain. It is vital that pregnant women further substitute folic acid because it is challenging to get the required amount from your daily diet alone.
If you intend to have a baby, it is recommended that you take a daily vitamin supplement with 400 mg folic acid daily for a month before you start trying to get pregnant. When pregnant, increase the amount to 600 mg daily, which can be found in a daily prenatal vitamin.
Hence, eat more leafy green vegetables, bread and pasta, citrus fruits, beans, and fortified or enriched cereals.
During pregnancy, more protein is needed because it is a builder nutrient. It helps build your unborn baby’s essential organs like the heart and brain.
Even though most women get enough protein-rich foods, you must get protein from protein-rich food sources like fish, meat, eggs, poultry, tofu, nuts, peas, and dried beans.
During pregnancy, women don’t consume enough calcium, a mineral very crucial in building the baby’s teeth and bones. When a pregnant woman doesn’t consume calcium-rich foods, the mineral is drawn from what is stored in her bones to cater to the baby’s increased needs during pregnancy.
Hence, pregnant women require 1000 mg calcium daily, while pregnant teens need about 1300 mg, according to ACOG. To ensure you are getting enough calcium supply, consume cheese, milk, sardines or salmons, yogurt, leafy greens, and calcium-fortified foods and juices.
What You Should Avoid During Pregnancy
To reduce any chances of getting food-borne diseases when pregnant, we recommend that you change a lot of what you eat by avoiding certain types of food. It is crucial that you stick mostly to eating freshly prepared meals. Most takeaway foods should be avoided because they spend considerable time on displays and in warming ovens.
To ensure a healthy pregnancy, you should avoid:
- Soft serve ice cream
- Unpasteurized milk and other dairy products
- Raw meat and raw seafood
- Raw or under cooked eggs
- Chilled ready-to-eat foods like processed meats, prepared salads, and cold-cooked chicken
- Sprouts like alfalfa, sunflower, onion, broccoli, radish, clover, and snow pea sprouts, soy and mung beans
- Ready-cooked take-away meals
- Leftovers more than a day old or haven’t been refrigerated at 5 degrees C
[Learn more about food and pregnancy at ChildMode]
What to Eat During Pregnancy
While you avoid the above foods, the main goal is to ensure that you eat nutritious foods throughout your pregnancy. To maximize your prenatal nutrition, you should make sure to eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy products.
Pregnant should fill half their plate with vegetables and fruits, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with whole grains, and include a dairy product with every meal. In the 2nd and 3rd trimester, focus more on vegetables and foods. Eat more colorful foods with few calories yet filled with vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
To support your baby’s growth, include good protein sources like meat, fish, poultry, beans, tofu, eggs, milk, cheese, seeds, and nuts. To cater for your energy needs, consume more whole grains. Whole grains are also a good source of fiber, B-vitamins, and iron. Every once in a while, including whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, and bread.
You should also aim for 3-4 servings of dairy foods dairy to cater for your calcium, Vitamin D, and protein needs. Hence, make a point of including yogurt, milk, and cheese but with moderation.
To obtain the above-mentioned nutrients, take prenatal vitamins daily to substitute for the nutrients you can’t get from foods alone. Visit the USDA’s pregnancy section on choosemyplate.gov to know more about your food choices and quantities to include at your meals.