What a woman eats and drinks during pregnancy is the principal source of nourishment for her child. Doctors also agree that a mother-to-be diet should include a variety of healthy foods and drinks to provide a baby’s growth and development needs with the important nutrients.
Eggs are the perfect health food, because they contain just about every nutrient you need. A large egg has 77 calories, and high-quality protein and fat. It packs a lot of vitamins and minerals too.
Eggs are a good choline source. Choline is important for many of your body’s processes including brain development and health. A US dietary survey showed that more than 90 percent of people ate less than the amount of choline they recommended. Low intake of choline during pregnancy may increase the risk of neural tube defects, and may result in decreased brain function in the fetus. A single whole egg contains approximately 113 mg of choline, which is about 25 per cent of pregnant women’s RDI (450 mg).
Your baby’s growing bones need calcium, and you need it to keep yours healthy and help your muscles and nerves function. Aim about 1,200 milligrams (that is four servings) each day. One of the best bets? Yogurt: cup for cup, it contains as much calcium as milk— plus protein and folate packed in it. The active cultures (i.e., good bacteria) in yogurt may also help prevent stomach upset and yeast infections (which are more common during pregnancy). In a great meal, blend yogurt with fruit into smoothies, sprinkle with granola, substitute for sour cream or mayo for sandwich fillings, dips and salad dressings or simply spoon it out of the cardboard.
- Whole Grain Foods
You will increase your calorie intake when pregnant, as you know by now. You can do that now by eating whole grain foods.
Whole grains provide fiber, vitamins, and compounds for plants. Certain products present in whole grains include vitamins C, protein, iron, and magnesium. Grains provide energy for the growth of your baby and help to grow your placenta.
Sources of the grains are bread, oats, barley, rice, and corn. Choose balanced whole grain foods, like whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Your body now needs a lot of protein (about 25 extra grams a day) to help the baby grow and to make sure that the muscles are growing correctly. The same goes for iron: lack of this mineral will hinder the growth of the baby and increase the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. Iron is also essential to mom— it is required for the formation of red blood cells (to prevent anaemia). Your blood volume rises during pregnancy, so you’ll need up your consumption of iron (up to around 27 milligrams a day). Meat contains a heavy dose of B6 vitamins that helps develop baby’s tissue and brain while relieving mom’s morning sickness, and B12 that helps maintain healthy nerves and red blood cells.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are really rich in beta-carotene, a compound of plants which in your body is transformed into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for growth and for the differentiation of most tissues and cells. It is very important for the development of healthy fetuses. In general, pregnant women are recommended to increase their consumption of vitamin A by 10–40%.
They are also recommended, however, to avoid extremely high amounts of animal-based vitamin A sources, which can cause toxicity if consumed excessively. So beta-carotene for pregnant women is a very effective source of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes form an excellent beta-carotene source. The entire Reference Daily Intake (RDI) fulfills around 3.5–5.3 ounces (100–150 grams) of cooked sweet potatoes.
In addition, sweet potatoes produce fiber which can increase fullness, decrease blood sugar spikes and boost digestive health and mobility.
- Wild Salmon
Cold-water fish such as salmon are filled with omega-3 essential fatty acids, most importantly a type called DHA. For a number of reasons, such healthy fats are “essential”: The body can not produce them alone, they help metabolize fat-soluble vitamins such as A and E, they can help reduce the risk of prenatal depression, and they are vital to the growth of your baby’s eyes and brain (both the brain and the retina are primarily composed of DHA). The Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection advises pregnant women to eat 8-12 ounces (two to three portions) of fish each week. Aim for wild salmon, sardines, herring and farmed oysters, all rich in omega-3s and healthy for pregnancy; Cook with acidic ingredients such as sour cream, fruit salsa or lemon juice or serve them up.
Avocados are a type of fruit that is considered a superfood particularly for women who are pregnant. They’re rich in healthy fats, folate, and potassium. Healthy fats help your growing baby build its skin and brain.
And foods with a high potassium content, during pregnancy, are known to help alleviate leg cramps. So if you’re struggling with nighttime painful leg cramps, add avocados to your diet during the day.
Start your day off right with a great big oatmeal bowl. Whole grains are great for keeping up your energy levels, especially if you feel a little exhausted from morning sickness. Plus, all that fiber can help with the pleasantry of another pregnancy: constipation. But it’s not just mom that the benefits end. This handy breakfast dish (yep, the instant kind is nice too!) also contains protein and vitamin B6 which are both important for the development of the infant.
- Broccoli and dark, leafy greens
Broccoli and dark, green vegetables such as spinach and kale provide many of the nutrients that pregnant women need.
Fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate, and potassium are included. The broccoli and leafy greens are also high in antioxidants. These also contain compounds for plants which support the immune system and digestion. Such vegetables also may help prevent constipation due to their high fiber content, which is a very common problem among pregnant women.
Green, leafy vegetables have also been associated with a reduced risk of low birth weight.
Pregnant women need to drink more water than they thought. Water does all the hard work of delivering nutrients and vitamins to your baby and helps them to be fully absorbed.
Make sure you drink 12 to 13 glasses of water a day. If you get a hard time remembering to drink water, fill a large bottle and hold it as a reminder to sip with you all day long. When exercising, make sure to drink before, after, and during your workout.
(source: thebump.com, mustelausa.com, healthline.com, and whattoexpect.com)