Maintaining your health during your pregnancy is one of the most important things you can do. It not only ensures you remain safe during your pregnancy, but it also ensures the proper development of your baby.
Your diet during pregnancy is not like the one you were on before while you were trying to lose weight. The diet now consists of healthy choices that will affect both you and your baby. There are foods that are good for you and some not so good because of indigestion, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea or lack of nutrition. These must either be avoided in some cases, or used in moderation in others. Eating healthy during your pregnancy is critical to your baby's growth and development and your well-being. You need to eat from a variety of food groups to get the nutrients you – and your baby – need!
When you are expecting, you need more folic acid, calcium, iron, and protein than before. Folic acid is crucial in preventing birth defects in baby's spine and brain. Food sources for this include leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, bread and pasta. Try some cooked lentils, spinach, citrus fruits and juices to boost your intake along with a multi vitamin your doctor will recommend that contains folic acid to ensure that you are getting just the right amount.
Calcium is needed to build strong teeth and bones, muscle and nerve function, and normal blood clotting. Since your baby needs lots of this, you must consume enough through your diet that it won't be depleted from your bones. Food sources include milk, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified juices, sardines or salmon with bones, and some leafy greens.
Vitamin C & Iron
You need double the amount of iron than you consumed before pregnancy. This helps to make more blood to supply the baby with oxygen. To get the necessary supply of iron, you can eat red meat, fish and poultry. Iron rich plant foods are cooked beans, lentils, and iron-fortified cereals. Including a good source of vitamin C with an iron-rich meal increases the absorption of the mineral into your body.
Sources of healthy protein are meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese and beans. Protein helps build important organs in the baby such as the brain and heart. The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of the human body. They help control blood clotting, particularly around the uterus and placenta, play a role in hair and fingernail growth, digestion and hormone secretion, and these are being provided for the baby, also. The third trimester of pregnancy is when your baby's brain is developing. Proteins high in Omega 3 fatty acids provide the nutrients essential for cognitive activity and growth.
Eating a well-balanced diet is crucial for you and your baby's health. Eating from a variety of food groups such as fruits and vegetables, dairy, bread and grains, and protein sources will fill you and baby's nutritional needs. You will want to limit or avoid your use of caffeine during pregnancy and avoid alcohol. The use of saccharin is discouraged as is consumption of soft cheeses because they are often unpasteurized. Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish which contain high levels of mercury, and also avoid raw fish and shellfish such as oysters and clams.