Pregnancy is an important phase in a woman’s life and extra care and attention needs to be taken not only for the baby’s sake but for the health of the mother too. Remember that whatever you eat is the main source of nutrition for your baby in the gestational period. Besides the multi-nutritional supplements that your obstetrician recommends, you must also take special care of your diet. Pregnancy is a delicate phase and you must avoid a lot of foods that are dangerous for both the pregnancy and the baby. On the contrary, you must choose those foods and nutrients that are the most essential for a baby’s growth and development.
Key nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy:
A healthy pregnancy does not just mean good health of the mother but also the growth of a well-developed child. They need folic acid, calcium, iron, and protein in excess amounts than a normal non-expectant woman.
This is also known as folate and it is a B vitamin that prevents neural tube defects, means birth defects in a baby’s spinal cord and brain. Diet alone cannot give you the necessary amount of folic acid needed, hence supplements are recommended.
(Kow about: Importance of Folic Acid During Pregnancy)
An excess amount of calcium is needed to build the baby’s bone and if it is not consumed, then the baby draws calcium from the mother’s bones that weaken the mothers’ bones, teeth and nails.
The iron needed by a pregnant woman is twice more than a non-expecting woman. The extra iron is needed to make more blood to supply the baby with the required oxygen. Too little iron can lead to pregnancy anaemia and increased risk of infections.
(Know about: Importance of Iron and Calcium)
More amount of protein is needed as it helps to build the brain and heart of the baby.
Foods to eat during pregnancy:
Vitamins and minerals:
A pregnant woman’s diet must be rich in vitamins and minerals with a lot of cheese, yogurt, milk, lentils, pulses, sprouts and eggs. Also if you are working during pregnancy, these foods will give you the essential energy to keep you active through the day. Keep snacks like popcorn, peanut butter, crackers, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and fruits that will not only help you cope up with the morning sickness but also improve your symptom of fatigue feeling.
This is an unavoidable mineral that not only is needed for the pregnant woman but also for the fetus’ bone growth and development. Have four servings of calcium every day to meet the excess requirement of the baby too. Also, make sure that your calcium-rich foods are also fortified with Vitamin D to ensure calcium getting absorbed well.
Have 2 glasses of milk daily along with yogurt or cheese. To increase your calcium intake, boil oatmeal or rice in milk to get more supply of calcium in your diet.
Good amount of iron:
Have iron supplements along with Vitamin B12 supplements to improve iron absorption in the body and reverse the effect of anaemia. Have lean meat like chicken breast, fish, beans, nuts, green leafy veggies, and seeds.
Nuts, seeds and fish are also a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Most pregnant women face an issue of constipation and it is quite a common symptom. There is nothing to be worried about. Pregnant women should always keep themselves well-hydrated be it with water, orange juice, coconut water, barley water or lemon juice. It is important to maintain a normal fluid balance in the body.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy:
There are quite a number of foods that pregnant women should avoid eating so as not to harm the baby inside.
Although seafood like prawns and crabs are loved by many but having these during pregnancy can have serious threats to the developing baby. These and other seafood contains mercury I them that causes serious damage to the nervous system. While you must have very limited fish during pregnancy, fish such as shark, swordfish, mackerel and tilefish are the worst offenders.
Unprocessed meat and under-cooked egg:
Meat contains a lot of bacteria I them that can enter the system of the mother and the fetus if consumed under-cooked and unprocessed. It is the same with eggs too. While eggs are an imperative part of the pregnancy diet, never have a sunny side up. It is best to have a hard-boiled egg.
If you are pregnant and working, you might have the frequent urge to have caffeine given their ability to fight sleepiness. But caffeine is bad for the placenta as it gets easily absorbed by the placenta but cannot be metabolized. This gradually builds up and leads to toxicity. So it’s better to avoid too much aerated and caffeinated drinks.
Avoid fast food:
You might get fast food cravings during pregnancy but it is better to avoid them as much as possible. It can lead to heartburns, constipation, fatigue, mood swings, and other complications. Also avoid store-bought salads like chicken salad, fish salad, tuna salad, and other seafood salad.
Unripe papaya and pineapple:
The unripe or semi-ripe papayas are rich in latex that triggers uterine contractions. As for pineapples, this is another fruit that better is avoided during pregnancy as it contains bromelain that leads to early labour due to the cervix getting softened.
Take care of what you eat and drink to maintain a healthy pregnancy and avoid complications.