A pregnancy diet that supports a developing baby’s health and growth is essential to kick-starting a healthy life.
Babies require ample nutrition and calories to grow and develop properly. Both mother and child benefit when the mother eats the right foods and avoids the wrong ones.
In addition, eating healthy food during pregnancy is important for pregnant women to maintain energy levels and an appropriate weight. This involves eating important pregnancy nutrients, such as folate, calcium and iron.
Furthermore, there are certain foods to avoid during pregnancy, or at least reduce the consumption of. Additionally, some women will have to follow specific
diets to address particular diseases. Moreover, it is important for pregnant women to understand their weight gain and how much they should be eating. Read the sections below to learn diet tips on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Tip 1: Consume Important Prenatal Vitamins and Minerals
Getting enough prenatal vitamins is essential for a successful pregnancy. These can be consumed through food or taken as a supplement in pill form. Deficiencies in nutrients can result in abnormalities, malnutrition, disorders and an increased risk for certain diseases.
If you feel you may be at risked for one of these conditions, learn how to apply to WIC to receive assistance on nutritional meals. Below are some pregnancy vitamins that you must pay special attention to as they are required for your baby’s development.
Iron rich foods and supplements in pregnancy are very important because low levels of iron can be harmful to both mothers and babies. Without the proper amount of iron, pregnant women can experience fatigue while babies can be born premature or with low birth weights. They can also b
oth be at risk of developing anemia.
Women must increase their iron intake during pregnancy and eat approximately 27 milligrams per day. Cereals, such as oats, that are fortified with iron can supply a large amount of iron, approximately 20 mg per serving. However, good sources of iron also include:
- Lean meat.
The nutrient calcium in pregnancy, alongside vitamin D, is essential for building strong bones in the child. While this nutrient is primarily found in dairy products, there are alternative sources for women who are lactose intolerant or following vegan or vegetarian diets. These foods that contain calcium include:
- Leafy green vegetables.
- Calcium-fortified plant milks.
- Sesame seeds.
- Dried fruits.
- Calcium-fortified breads.
Consuming folate in pregnancy is essential. Not only does it contribute to proper nervous system development, but a deficiency in the nutrient can result in defects like spina bifida.
Folate is a vitamin that is naturally occurring in foods and known as folic acid when added to foods. Mothers can eat foods high in folate, such as:
- Green vegetables.
Tip 2: Control PKU
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a gene mutation that can be passed down from mother to baby. Not all women who become pregnant need to worry about this gene.
A child will only inherit the disease if both the mother and father have PKU. However, a child is more likely to inherit the gene if both parents are carriers.
The PKU disease causes issues with protein building in the body. Thus, children with the condition can have a range of health problems including intellectual disabilities and heart defects. However, women who carry or have the gene can follow a low phenylalanine diet to have a healthy baby.
This diet consists of restricted amounts of protein that have phenylalanine (Phe). Thus, mothers must follow a specific diet in order to control levels of Phe and manage phenylketonuria.
The appropriate balance between foods will be different depending on the woman. However, pregnant women with PKU will have to remove foods, such as eggs, milk, nuts, beans, fish and beef from their diets. The nutrients found in these foods can be replaced with supplements.
Tip 3: Be Cognizant of the Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
There are a number of foods to avoid during pregnancy. Moms-to-be are instructed to minimize or completely remove certain foods from their diet to ensure that their babies develop properly.
That is because there are foods that cause miscarriage or developmental issues in babies. Some foods to avoid during pregnancy include:
- Smoked fish like salmon, mackerel and whitefish.
- Fish with high levels of mercury like white snapper and swordfish.
- Unripe papaya.
- Raw sprouts.
- Unpasteurized milk and juice.
Tip 4: Follow A Special Pregnancy Diet If Necessary
A special pregnancy diet may be necessary for certain women to adopt. While most mothers can follow a simple health plan, others will have to begin a diet to address specific issues.
For instance, gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that certain women can develop while pregnant. It occurs when a woman cannot produce enough insulin during pregnancy. As a result, the body produces more blood sugar, which can be dangerous for both the mother and baby.
To control their diabetes, women must follow a pregnancy diabetes diet plan that has an appropriate amount of carbohydrates to regulate blood sugar. Such a diet involves:
- Eating fiber-rich complex carbohydrates.
- Combining carbohydrates with proteins and healthy fats.
- Limiting the amount of carbs eaten during one meal.
In addition, many pregnant women who develop this condition are instructed to eat foods that have a low glycemic index. These foods release sugar into the blood slower than other foods.
This helps to maintain sugar levels. Moreover, women following a gestational diabetes diet must avoid foods with high fat contents and foods that have hidden sugars and carbohydrates. These women should find out if they are eligible for WIC food benefits.
Tip 5: Control Pregnancy Weight Gain
Pregnancy weight gain is necessary. However, there is a common myth that pregnant women are eating for two. As a result, they overeat and gain weight.
While women should gain weight in order to ensure a healthy newborn, they do not need to start eating an excess amount of food. In fact, the ideal weight gain during pregnancy is between 25 and 40 lbs.
Women who are overweight are recommended to gain 12 to 25 lbs. instead. Depending on the child’s developmental stage during the pregnancy, mothers should increase their caloric intake strategically each trimester to ensure healthy and normal weight gain in pregnancy.
However, pregnant women only need to have an extra 340 to 450 calories per day rather than 1,000. Pregnancy cravings are often the source of most of the extra calories that pregnant women consume. However, these cravings should not be used as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods.
Rather, it is important to identify which nutrients the body is asking for in the form of weird pregnancy food cravings as they are often a result of a nutrition deficiency. Consuming necessary nutrients rather than empty calories will help moms stay healthy while helping their babies grow.