As you get pregnant, you will experience hormonal and physical changes. It’s not only important to nourish, but you should also think about the developing fetus. With this, it’s essential to eat a healthy and balanced diet to ensure that both you and your baby is healthy all through the pregnancy period.
What you eat is what you fed to your baby. It’s important to eat foods that are nutrient-dense. Proper nutrition is the key to promote the growth and development of the baby.
During pregnancy, the nutritional requirements of your body increases. There’s a need to consume more macronutrients and micronutrients to support both of you.
Macronutrients are those that provide energy or calories such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. On the other hand, small amount of micronutrients is needed including vitamins and minerals.
Meeting the nutritional needs can be possible by following a diet composed of healthy foods. This makes sense knowing the food groups and you need to eat different foods from the group to get the required nutrients.
Different foods from the three groups offers nutrients to your body and your baby.
- Fruits and vegetables are rich with fiber, fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, and antioxidants
- Grains provide adequate energy
- Dairy products are packed with vitamin D and calcium
- Nuts, legumes, and meats contain iron, protein, and folate
What to eat and the recommended amount
If there’s nutrient deficiency in your body, you should expect that it won’t function properly. During pregnancy, your goal must be to get the necessary nutrients needed by you and the developing baby. As much as possible, you should choose low-fat, natural foods than processed foods. You should avoid those that don’t contain nutritional value. Instead, you should eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, and lean proteins.
However, you need not avoid your favorite foods while you’re pregnant. You can still enjoy your favorite foods provided that you also eat nutritious foods. This way, you can ensure that won’t miss the essential nutrients.
Here are the nutrients needed during pregnancy:
This nutrient is vital for the proper development of the brain and fetal tissue. Protein also helps with the growth of the uterine tissue and the breast. It also increases the blood supply that will be sent to your baby.
The required amount of protein that a pregnant woman should consume each day is three servings. You may choose from the following:
- Lean pork and beef
- Peanut butter
- Cottage cheese
Calcium helps build your baby’s bones and regulates your body’s use of fluids.
Pregnant women need at least three servings of calcium per day. In pregnant teens, the recommendation is five servings. Good sources of calcium include:
It is also called as folic acid; folate is significant to reduce the risks of developing neural tube defects. Deficiency in folate may cause major birth defects affecting the spinal cord and brain of the baby such as anencephaly and spina bifida.
The required amount of folate to consume during pregnancy is about 600 to 800 micrograms. But, you can also obtain folate from consuming these foods:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Peanut butter and nuts
- Lentils and dried beans
Iron helps to supply sufficient amount of oxygen to you and your baby. This nutrient works with water, potassium, and sodium to increase the blood flow.
The required amount of iron that a pregnant woman should take is 27 mg/day. Foods that are good sources of iron are:
- Citrus fruits
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Poultry and lean beef
- Cereals and enriched breads
- Dried fruits
During pregnancy folic acid plays a significant role. This B vitamin is essential for the development of the neural tube. Deficiency in folic acid can cause abnormal development of the spinal cord and the brain. It is advised to take sufficient amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy. This can be possible by eating foods that are rich in folate or by taking folic acid supplements.
During pregnancy it’s not enough just to eat well. It’s also necessary to drink enough water and of course follow the prenatal appointments. If you lack certain nutrients, your doctor may advise to take the appropriate prenatal vitamins that would make you and your baby healthy.
Food aversions and craving
Food aversions and cravings are very common during pregnancy. Many pregnant women may not want to eat specific foods, but they may also crave for a particular food. Hormonal changes may be the cause of food aversions and cravings while pregnant.
It’s fine to satisfy your cravings sometimes as long as the food is healthy. But, consuming processed and junk foods should be limited. Food aversion may be an issue if the food that you don’t want to eat is essential for the development and growth of the baby. In this case, you must consult your doctor.
Healthy weight gain
It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy. In fact, many women were worried about this and think that they won’t get back to their pre-pregnancy weight and size. Gaining weight is not a big deal because it also provides nourishment to your baby and for breastfeeding after the delivery.
The average weight gain during pregnancy is between 25 to 35 pounds for a normal starting weight. But, for overweight pregnant woman, the recommended weight gain is between 15 to 25 pounds. While you’re pregnant you should not worry about the number on the weighing scale. Rather, you should focus on consuming different nutritious foods.
Aside from consuming nutritious foods, a pregnant woman should also exercise to maintain healthy weight. You can consider walking and swimming, but never extreme sports. You should start healthy exercise in a way that it won’t put your baby at risk. While exercising, you should drink enough water to avoid dehydration. Prior of doing exercise, consult your doctor first for your safety.
To ensure that both you and your baby is healthy as possible, make sure to eat nutritious foods during pregnancy. You should always check the nutritional value of the food and refrain from high-sodium, high-sugar, and high-fat foods.
Consult a dietitian or talk to your doctor to come up with a specific meal plan perfect for pregnancy. Eat more foods that are recommended for the good health of you and your developing baby.