A healthy pregnancy diet is vital to sustain the wellbeing of the baby in the womb and the mother. Unless a mother has adequate nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in her meals, she is at greater risk of facing pregnancy complications and the child too has her share of development problems.
The nine months of pregnancy is the most crucial period in the life of a woman. She lives two lives – one of her own and the other for the little one growing inside her womb – each integrated to another explicitly. Anything a pregnant mother does or does not has a direct or indirect bearing on the child. Her intake of food and nutrition are no exception to this type of effect. Baby’s growth and development is reliant on mother’s diet. If the mother is not on a healthy diet, the child may not get adequate nutrition and nourishment.
Mother’s dietary habit during pregnancy plays a role in saving her baby from the risk of birth deformities and various post-natal complications. The diet during pregnancy has also a decisive influence on the future ability of the child. Research indicate the role of a healthy pregnancy diet in building child’s strength to avoid cancer, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and other illness risks throughout its life.
What Is A Healthy Pregnancy Diet
A healthy pregnancy diet has three aspects
- First, adequate intake of nutrients, mineral, and vitamins
- Second, a dietary planning for every trimester and containing a balanced diet
- Third, what should be eaten or avoided during pregnancy
Nutrients, Mineral, and Vitamins
At the onset of pregnancy, women feel queasiness and show disinterest in eating. However, this is the time when they need to have the adequate amount of nutrients and food loaded with energy. Any deficiency due to a compromised diet may cause a problem for the embryo impacting its safety and development. Research shows fruits and dark green leafy vegetables in the pregnancy diet plan saves the baby from neural tube deformities.
Ensure your pregnancy diet does not leave aside folic acid, an essential nutrient for human cell growth. Its deficiency may lead to cellular growth disorders in the baby.
While increased protein intake is essential to facilitate the growth of the baby, the presence of iron and other micronutrients prevent the risk of low birth weight of babies and the risk of stillbirths. The pregnancy diet should also include a good amount of iodine, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Have adequate calcium levels too, as it is another essential element in averting hypertension and fluid retention during pregnancy.
Food Sources of Nutrients in Healthy Pregnancy Diet
- Protein: Milk, cereals, pulses, lean meat, fish, egg
- Calcium: Milk, green leafy veggies, broccoli
- Vitamin A: Red and orange fruits and vegetables
- Iron: Lentils, cauliflower, citrus fruits, red and orange fruits
- Folate: Beans, green leafy veggies, high-fiber foods, amaranth
- Vitamin B12: Milk, whole-grain foods, cereals
- Iodine: Salt, cheese, yogurt
- Vitamin D: Morning sunlight, fish, egg, milk
- Omega 3: Fish, olive oil, walnuts, flax seed
Essential Elements of A Pregnancy Diet Plan
Take your breakfast, lunch, and dinner appropriately and never miss it. Whenever feel hungry, get some snacks. The breakfast must include milk, juice, porridge, or cereal grains. Soups and salads must be on your lunch menu. Your dinner should be moderate with protein-rich food. Ensure you have food from a variety of sources and add 300 to 500 extra calories a day to your pregnancy diet.
Food rich in iron, vitamin B6, and folate (folic acid) should be a part of the diet in the first trimester along with iron-rich meals. Iron keeps anemia away and increases the blood volume. Vitamin B6 relieves nausea in a pregnant woman. Folate helps the nervous system of the baby.
The pregnancy diet during the second trimester must include vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. This is the growth period of the prenatal baby and she needs these elements for bone and brain development.
When in the third trimester, a pregnant woman must increase intake of food that provides vitamin K and gives an energy boost. Remember, your pregnancy diet during this time is vital for post-delivery recovery.
Foods You Must Have in Your Healthy Pregnancy Diet Plan
- Cereals, pulses, lentil, oatmeal
- Whole grains, legume, nuts (more if you are vegetarian)
- Sweet potatoes, beans
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Vegetables and fruits rich in fiber
- Fresh, undressed salad
- Water and fruit juice. Increase intake by 300 ml, as hydration is crucial to nutrition absorption. Dehydration could lead to miscarriages.
- Skimmed milk, butter milk, cottage cheese, soft cheese, yogurt
- Moderate amount of lean meat for protein
- Cooked eggs
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Fats and oils that have unsaturated fat
- Iodised salt
- Berries, avocados, walnuts, dried fruits
Foods To Avoid in Your Healthy Pregnancy Diet
- Foods with higher risk of illness, as your immune system is low at the time of pregnancy
- Uncooked egg, as it may cause allergic reaction or tainted with bacterium
- Dressed salad, sushi,
- Sugary drinks and unpasteurized juice/ milk
- Fish and meat with the possibility of being contaminated
- Food rich in nitrates, such as bacon and sausage
- Saccharin and other types of artificial sweetener
- Drinks with high levels of caffeine
- Raw, uncooked, half-cooked food
- High saturated fat
- Chinese food
- Raw sprouts
- Blue-veined cheeses
- Processed or canned food
- Alcoholic drinks
Healthy Pregnancy Diet Tips
- Ensure balanced intake of nutrients, neither inadequate nor excessive. A test of nutritional needs is desirable.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and drugs. These can lead to birth deformities and mental disabilities in the child.
- Say no to processed or canned food. Preservatives have the potential to induce fluid retention in pregnant women.
- Throw away sugary drinks and diet sodas from your pregnancy diet plan, as these had bad effects on the fetus.
- No intake of medications without a prescription, as these may increase the risk of birth defects.
- Go for organic foods, the higher amount of veggies, and lots of water.
- Check your weight and make sure you are healthy. Daily intake of extra 300 to 500 calories is desirable to meet the special need of pregnancy.
- Whole-grain products are a smart choice to meet the food craving. Make sure your pregnancy diet plan has a good amount of these.
- Indulge in moderation and balanced intake. Diversified your food preference and select more varieties.
- Avoid eating foods with strains of fungus or bacteria. Check the potential toxic source.
- Increase legume and nuts intakes if you are vegetarian.
- Steer clear of saturated fat and trans fat in foods, oils, and snacks. Go for unsaturated fats in your pregnancy diet. The high amount of fat result in gut microbiomes in babies and this may inhibit the immune system development and prevent energy absorbing from food.
- Increase your water intake by at least 300 to 500 ml a day. Dehydration can lead to headaches, anxiety, mood swing, constipation, urinary tract infections, nutrition absorption problems, and the potential risk of miscarriage.
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com