Getting pregnant is one of the most exciting milestones in a woman’s life. If you’re conceiving, chances are you’re looking forward to feeling that baby bump and holding your baby boy or girl soon. Before you get there, you need to pay attention to your diet and pregnancy nutrition.
Get Acquainted with Pregnancy Nutrition
Since you are nurturing another life inside you, good nutrition is crucial for your baby to come out healthy. And because you’re eating for two, there are some foods you need to include and some to avoid. Essential pregnancy nutrients starting from conception to childbirth helps ensure an ideal body weight and a happy 9 months ahead. According to obstetric specialists, the following are key components of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy: appropriate weight gain; balanced diet; regular exercise; and appropriate and timely vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Here are the 8 important nutrients you need from the first until the ninth month:
- Folic acid – folate, as we also know it, is one of the first prenatal supplements your OB / GYN would prescribe. It is a Vitamin B9 which is crucial to help prevent birth defects like neural tube defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord. For a healthy pregnancy, your body requires 600mcg a day which is found in a prenatal vitamin and food sources like leafy green vegetables, green vegetables, beans, oranges, strawberries, fortified breakfast cereals, kidney beans, nuts, cauliflower, and beets.
- Calcium – is for building the baby’s bones and teeth. Your insufficient calcium intake can let your baby’s need draw this mineral from the calcium storage in your own bones to meet the extra demands of pregnancy. Your daily quota for calcium is 1000 mcg which you can get from milk, yogurt, cheese, sardines or salmon with bones, some leafy greens, and calcium-fortified juices and foods. Leafy greens and fatty fish are the best source.
- Vitamin D – You need 600 international units (IU) of Vitamin D a day. You can get it from sun exposure and from foods like fatty fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna, and mackerel; fish liver, oils, beef liver, UV-exposed mushrooms, cheese, egg yolks, and fortified juices.
- Iron – You need 27 milligrams of iron a day to prevent pregnancy anemia. The additional amounts are necessary to make more blood for your baby’s oxygen supply. Iron can help prevent fatigue and an increased risk of infections. You need to pair iron minerals with Vitamin C to increase absorption. Foods rich in iron are meat, poultry, fish, iron-fortified cereal, dried beans, and peas.
- Protein – It helps in the development of your baby’s brain and heart. It also supports your uterine tissue and muscle development for both you and your baby. Your protein goal is 75 grams per day. During the second trimester, however, the goal rises to 152 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, a woman who weighs 79 kg (175 pounds) should try to eat 121 g of protein daily. Excellent protein sources include eggs, Greek yogurt, and chicken. You can also put meat, low-mercury fish, dried beans and peas, eggs, nuts, and tofu on your plate. Steer clear of processed raw, high carbs, and high-sugar foods.
- Potassium – It helps maintain proper fluid balance and regulates blood pressure. Make sure you get 2,900 mg per day by popping the prenatal vitamin. Also, you can include bananas, apricots, and avocados in your menu.
- DHA (Omega-3 fatty acid) – Lowers the risk of developing pre-eclampsia and decreases the probability of having postpartum depression. An adequate amount of 1.4 g per day can be acquired from your prenatal vitamin and from food sources like anchovies, herring, and sardines, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. Algae-based supplements can aid vegans and vegetarians to meet their quota of Omega-3.
- Water – For replenishing your baby’s amniotic fluid and preventing constipation. It also helps increase milk production. Drinking 10 to 12 glasses is ideal. Please put away all forms of alcohol drinks. A small amount of decaf coffee can satisfy your craving for coffee. Organic, of course, is best because of the chemicals used to make the coffee decaf.
Notice that good fats are essential in food choices, mainly for the sake of the nervous system. Consider eating fatty fish whenever possible.
Important Third-Trimester Nutrients
All the nutrients we discussed above are still important in the third trimester, but there are some we should pay particular attention to like:
- Vitamins A, D, E, and K – the fat-soluble vitamins that are important as your body is producing milk during this period.
- Magnesium – you need this to avoid the horrific leg cramps that may wake you up at night. Magnesium supplements can also reduce the risk of high blood pressure that could lead to preeclampsia.
- Probiotics – These so-called “happy bacteria” help keep your microbiomes in balance during pregnancy thus, lowering the risk of gestational diabetes (an enormous baby) and reduce inflammation in the placenta (preeclampsia.)
Tracking your Pregnancy Nutrition
Years ago, they passed pregnancy tips and precautions from mother to daughter. Later, self-help books came, then online materials and apps became available to conveniently instruct and assist women expecting a baby. With a lot of food variety and processing, you need to make sure you have the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins along with major nutrients you and your baby need. Thankfully, pregnancy nutrition trackers are available to partner with you on your 9-month journey to childbirth. So you’ve got no excuse to neglect proper pregnancy nutrition.
With a pregnancy nutrition app, you can download it on your phone and you get answers to your questions about diet during pregnancy. It provides you with recipes and their health scores. It helps you find out what foods are safe to eat, foods that you need precaution to take, and what foods to avoid. It suggests whole foods to fill nutritional gaps.
What’s more? There are several pregnancy nutrition planners you can go to along with a pregnancy nutrition chart and a pregnancy meal plan that could provide you information by the week or by the trimester. Paleo, vegetarian, vegan or another, the web is full of these meal plans available to suit your taste and preferences. Just remember, the key is having enough as well as balanced nutrients for a healthy mom and a healthy, plump baby!