Healthy Nutrition during Pregnancy—A Guide
“Hot cross buns, hot cross buns.
One a penny, two a penny. Hot cross buns!”
Pies, tarts, candies, chips, chocolate, sugary buns, pizza, French fries, sodas… my God, now we’re drooling! Who doesn’t love the junk food? I certainly do and so do you, I’m guessing! But stop….caution required! It’s all very well satisfying your late-night cravings with your family and friends, but there’s time—and condition—for everything. And pregnancy is definitely NOT the right condition for this!
It has been revealed through studies that everything you eat gets absorbed into your bloodstream and it is then transferred to the fetus through the placenta. Bad news, right? You need to keep in mind that giving in to cravings is easy but the consequences can be dire since it’s not just you whose health can be at stake but your unborn child may also land in serious trouble.
Nutrition for pregnancy is a sensitive issue which takes prime importance. However, the matter of concern is the sheer number of women who are unaware of the danger posed to their babies by the things they eat—or do not eat—without a second thought. “We’re getting dangerously close to 40 percent of children being obese or overweight,” says Dr. Piedimonte. To make sure, the health of mother and child stays out of harm’s way; he recommends the pregnant mothers to consult a dietician or nutritionist to discuss their diets. “This is not something that should be left to serendipity: a mother should very carefully assess the diet with an expert,” he suggests.
Foods You should Look for
Healthy eating habits of the pregnant mother ensure the arrival of a healthy baby. To meet the needs of the growing baby, certain foods are essential to be included in your daily nutrition.
Fruits and Vegetables (Vitamins)
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apple in the morning, doctor’s warning”.
Yes, nursery rhymes often speak the truth. Fruits and vegetables form an essential part of a balanced diet and must be included in your daily nutrition. They are especially valuable for pregnant mothers since they contain essential nutrients like Folic acid and Vitamin C which is especially found in fruits like oranges and grapefruit, and vegetables including tomatoes and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables help both the mother and the growing child by controlling blood pressure and reducing the risk of anemia.
Intake of protein during pregnancy is crucial since this nutrient is an important building block of human cells. Considering this characteristic, it is a must-have in your pregnancy nutrition to aid the rapid development of your baby’s cells and tissues. Adding up to 75 grams of protein in your daily diet is a good option; you can divide it into three servings in consistency with the breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Foods which contain protein are eggs, salmon, beans, milk, yogurt, cheese, soy, white meat and lean beef. However, if you want to add some extra protein in your diet, go for whole-grain bread and cereals.
Fiber plays a vital role in the development of a healthy body and a healthy mind. There is no reason why you shouldn’t add this vital nutrient to your dietary routine during pregnancy. It helps to prevent constipation and lowers blood pressure; thus, adding almost 25 grams of fiber to your daily diet during early pregnancy reduces the chances of pregnancy-related complications like hemorrhoids and preeclampsia, a fatal condition resulting from high blood pressure. If you want to eat foods rich in fiber, don’t forget to include beans, peas, broccoli, blueberries, oatmeal, wheat, corn and rice bran in your nutrition chart.
Every mother wants her baby to develop strong bones and teeth, a vigorous heart, healthy nerves and muscles, and a normal heartbeat rate. While it is easy to wish, it is a lot harder to work for it. All moms-to-be out there, remember to add the desired amount of calcium in your pregnancy nutrition since it is crucial for the development of the baby’s skeleton. A pregnant mother needs to have 1000 to 1300 mg of calcium in small quantities throughout the day for herself and her baby to stay strong. Otherwise, the baby will absorb the calcium present in your body to meet its needs leaving you to get weaker later on. Not something desirable, is it? Get your hands on dairy products and leafy greens for a convenient supply of this vital nutrient.
The human body uses iron to create hemoglobin—in other words, extra blood—which is essential to combat a condition in which human body produces too few red blood cells and causes exhaustion, known as iron deficiency or anemia. I think you must have guessed how important it is for your baby! A proper amount of iron in your diet means a healthy supply of red blood cells and oxygen to your baby. No need to say anything more, right? Seafood, red meat, beans, peas, green leafy vegetables and dried fruits are rich sources of iron. What are you still waiting for? Go get them!
If you are a mom-to-be or might become one soon, it is necessary to add folic acid in your nutrition for pregnancy or take it as a supplement. One may ask what Folic acid is. In simple words, it is the synthetic form of Vitamin B9 and is also called folate. Folic acid plays a vital role in developing the baby’s neural tube and preventing birth-related complications like defects in spinal cord and brain.
Remember: consulting your doctor before taking up anything as a food source is always a wise choice!
Foods to Steer Clear of
Not everything can be counted as healthy when you are a pregnant mother; there are many things out there which may cause harm to you and the life growing inside you. All you need to do is exercise caution and consult your doctor before adding anything to your diet.
Studies can be quite confusing when it comes to the effects of caffeine on the baby during pregnancy. While some studies reveal a harmful effect of caffeine on the health of the growing baby, few others say it is not dangerous if caffeine is taken in moderate amount. However, everyone knows that coffee, which contains a high amount of caffeine, is a stimulant because of which it is linked with a high blood pressure and increased heart rate, so it is something hazardous for a pregnant mom. Also, prevention is always better than cure, so even though you love your latte or cappuccino, it is better to keep it down until your baby arrives in the world.
Since times past, it has been said that alcohol should not be used during pregnancy. Why? Because it passes to the baby through the umbilical cord and, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control), is associated with FASDs (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders)—stillbirth, miscarriage and other lifetime physical, intellectual and behavioural disorders including abnormal facial features, low body weight, hyperactive behaviour, poor memory, speech and language delays, low IQ etc. Grandmas are not always wrong you see! Stay away from that bottle!
Research has shown a direct link between high-calorie diets of pregnant mothers and health issues of their offspring including higher chances of developing asthma and abnormalities in their lipid and glucose metabolism. The fats and calories are transferred to the baby through placenta which affects their metabolic profile drastically. According to Doctor Piedimonte, “You can easily consume too many carbohydrates or lipids, and that is going to have the ability to affect the metabolic status of the fetus”. Dear chips lovers, it is time to put that packet of chips down.
Intake of too much sugar during pregnancy is harmful to the baby. Studies have linked excessive sugar consumption with aggravated pregnancy symptoms and conditions (vomiting, heartburn and mood swings), augmented exhaustion, higher pregnancy weight gain and increased levels of insulin and glucose. You must have understood where this is going: yes, to diabetes! However, it does not mean you stop taking sugar during pregnancy completely; moderation is the key here. You just need to control the sweet tooth!
Dieting during Pregnancy? Absolutely Not!
Healthy eating during pregnancy is very important for your baby, so dieting is a big no-no. It can cause severe pregnancy problems since you have to follow a strict diet routine which does not allow the intake of essential nutrients like folic acid, iron and other important vitamins and minerals in proper amounts. Consequently, the baby’s needs are not fulfilled leading to premature births or the birth of a weak baby.
A Final Word
Pregnancy is a sensitive period which requires extreme caution on your part in every regard. Eating may not look like a great deal, but it defines the future health of your babies. They are what you eat. Your choices are going to decide how they are going to live their lives. Make your decisions wisely; regrets are lifelong and hard to forget.
Any recommendations or suggestions you would like to give all moms-to-be? Connect with them through us by sharing your thoughts in comments.