It’s necessary to include a lot of nutritional foods in your diet while pregnant as whatever you eat goes into your baby’s stomach as well. For this reason, the doctor suggests you eat healthy food that is rich in minerals and nutrients that your body and baby are going to need.
During pregnancy, a woman needs more iron, protein, folic acid and calcium in her diet than the amount needed normally. Below is a detailed guide on what you should and shouldn’t eat when pregnant.
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Pregnant women need 27 mg of iron in a day, twice the number needed normally by women. The increased amount of iron helps make more blood cells that help deliver oxygen to the baby. In order to increase iron absorption, include vitamin C with the iron meal you’re having. E.g. orange juice with dried beans and peas.
Sources of Iron: lean red meat, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, fish, poultry
Protein is known as a ‘builder nutrient’ as it is mainly responsible for developing the baby’s brain and the heart. So now it must be obvious why it’s mandatory for you to have protein as part of your pregnancy diet. Apart from that, it also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow and also increases your blood supply.
Sources of Protein: eggs, fish, milk, tofu, beans, lentils, cheese, nuts
Calcium helps build the baby’s bone and teeth. If he doesn’t get them in an appropriate amount, they’re then drawn from the mother’s own storage of the mineral from her bones. Vitamin D also helps develop the baby’s bone and teeth alongside calcium. Pregnant women need 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
Sources of Calcium: cheese, calcium-fortified juice, yogurt, milk, kale, etc
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Dairy is the best source of calcium, various B vitamins as well as zinc, magnesium and phosphorous. Yogurt is very beneficial to pregnant women, containing more calcium compared to other dairies. Even people intolerant to dairies can be tolerant of yogurt, especially probiotic yogurt which helps regulate the digestive system.
Whole grains are another necessity for pregnant women as they help meet their calorie requirements. Packed with B Vitamins, fiber, plants, and magnesium, whole grains are important as the nutrients they provide are mostly missing from the diets of pregnant women.
It’s important for pregnant women to eat fruits and vegetables, especially during the second and third trimesters. Berries consist of vitamin C and antioxidants while Avocadoes consist of a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids, Vitamin K, copper and fiber. Similarly, vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens consist of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, iron and calcium. They also contain antioxidants that help clean up the immune and digestive systems.
So just make sure your diet consists of a lot of fruits and vegetables to aid you in becoming healthier.
This group consists of peas, beans, lentils, peanuts, soybeans, and chickpeas. They are a good source of iron, B Vitamin (Folate), proteins, calcium, and fiber.
As discussed before, folate is a necessary part of any woman’s diet, whether pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as it protects the baby from neural tube defects (birth complications and defects) as well as for normal birth weight and a stronger immune system later in life. You need to have legumes in your daily diet during the 9 month period, especially during the first trimester
It’s a great source for obtaining Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, that help develop the baby’s eyes and brain. Many women don’t prefer to eat seafood and hence don’t have an Omega-3 supplement in their diet. Fish Liver Oil helps solve that problem with ease. It also consists of Vitamin D that prevents preeclampsia i.e. swelling of hands and feet, protein excretion in the urine and high BP.
Reports show that having fish liver oil increases birth weight and decreases the risk of disease.
Whether you’re pregnant or not, you need to have a proper hydration level at all times. During pregnancy, though, this level may be harder to keep a check on; the amount of water in your body and the amount the uterus is getting because of a high increase in blood levels.
Dehydration causes constant mood swings, headaches, anxiety, exhaustion, urinary tract infections, constipation, and reduced memory retention. Therefore, it is necessary to keep yourself hydrated.
We know that this must get very inconvenient due to the amount of urination it will cause, but that’s not an excuse to not be hydrated. Urination is a way to get rid of toxic chemicals obtained by the kidney and it keeps you healthy. As an estimate, you need to drink up to 2 liters per day. But the amount varies according to your body’s needs.
High-quality proteins are a must during pregnancy. Lean meats are those including low fat in them. Anything from chicken, beef, and pork can be lean meat if their layer of fat is removed.
Lean meat like beef and pork are also good sources of iron which is an important mineral used by hemoglobins. Low iron levels can cause anemia and lead to premature deliveries. Hence it’s necessary to have iron in your daily diet.
You need to stay away from alcohol while pregnant as it can cause developmental and behavioral issues in the child later in life. Excess amounts of alcohol can even cause psychological retardation.
Although small amounts of coffee in your diet doesn’t seem to make a difference on the baby’s health during pregnancy, it is still important that you limit your caffeine intake to smaller doses, depending upon how much caffeine you used to take before getting pregnant. High levels of caffeine can lead to insomnia, nausea, and dehydration.
Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids but you need to take note of the kind of fish you’re having. Many kinds of fish include high levels of mercury that is toxic to you and your baby’s health. These include swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, etc.
Pasteurization refers to heating food to a level that its harmful bacteria die. Any kind of unpasteurized milk and food made from it e.g. blue-veined cheese, unpasteurized juice or cider, etc and unpasteurized foods such as hot dogs, store-bought salads, meat, etc can be harmful to you and the baby.
These foods contain listeria bacteria and can cause listeria infections which can lead to a number of problems namely, miscarriages, stillbirth, preterm labor, illness and even death in newborns.
It’s also bad to eat any amount of raw food during this period. This includes raw/undercooked/runny/poached eggs, undercooked meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, oysters, scallops. Reports show that eating raw food develops risk factors for the baby to have blindness or psychological disorders later in life.
These are the basics you need to take care of when planning your diet for pregnancy. Do consult with your doctor and hire a nutritionist if possible, in order to get a proper plan on what to eat and what not to eat. And even if that’s not possible, the pointers given above should have you covered. It is necessary to eat even if you feel too nauseated; take a few small bites of something light at equal intervals but make sure your body is getting fed. It is never good to skip meals if you want yourself and your baby to be healthy.
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