Nutrition During Pregnancy

Pregnancy comes with a number of lifestyle changes and nutrition is definitely one of them. You may want to take a closer look at what goes into your body since that is what will be passed on to your growing fetus, and is majorly what determines how healthily your unborn baby will develop. As a pregnant woman, you may want to focus on consuming meals that will have a great nutritional value on your growing fetus. Your meals should consist of a balanced diet of protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Maximize on the following nutrients:

Folate/folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps our bodies generate new cells. It is a key nutrient as it prevents the baby from developing neural tube defects – diseases such as anencephaly and spina bifida – that affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord. All women of reproductive age are required to take 400 mcg of folic acid each day. When you are pregnant, 600-800 mcg of folate is recommended. It may be hard to get the recommended amount of folic acid from diet alone and in such cases, you may be required to take daily vitamin supplements. You can get folate from lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, breakfast cereals, nuts and peanut butter.

Calcium

Calcium helps to build your baby’s bones and teeth. A healthy amount of calcium in your diet will work to ensure that your baby develops strong bones. It is recommended that a pregnant woman takes 1000 mg of calcium every day. Calcium also helps to regulate your bodies use of fluids. Calcium is found in most dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese. It can also be found in green leafy vegetables.

Protein

Proteins helps in the growth of your baby’s tissues and organs such as the brain and the heart. Aside from that, it also helps with breast and uterine tissue growth during pregnancy. Taking the recommended amount of protein increases blood supply to the growing fetus. the recommended amount of protein is 70-100 g depending on your body weight and the trimester you’re in. Protein intake increases with each trimester so it is important to talk to your doctor to know the amount you need to take in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Good sources of protein include: eggs, liver, beans, nuts, meat, fish and poultry.

Iron

Iron helps to increase blood flow and in turn increases the supply of oxygen to you and your baby. A deficiency in this nutrient can lead to anemia, which will weaken your immune system. A pregnant woman needs 27 mg of iron each day. It is recommended to include a good source of vitamin C alongside your iron intake in order to increase absorption of the iron. You can get iron from: beef, poultry, fish, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.

Other considerations

Take at least eight glasses of water daily. Limit your intake of caffeine, junk and processed foods. Stay away from drugs and alcohol.