A pregnant mum is no longer just looking after her own health, but the welfare of her growing baby as well. It’s important to know the appropriate diet during pregnancy so her body can be strong and healthy to support the baby’s growth.
Having the right information can help better understand the nutritional needs of pregnant mums. Knowing the right nutrients and what to avoid, can help give the pregnant body what it needs.
Diet during pregnancy: what your body needs
Some of the most crucial nutrients for a pregnancy are:
- DHA to develop the baby’s brain and eyes. It can be found in algae, fish, nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseed.
- Choline for baby’s learning, memory and mental functioning. It can be taken through liver, eggs, milk, and nuts.
- Folic acid for the support of foetal growth and development and avoid neural birth defects. This can be found in green leafy vegetables, lentils and brown rice.
- Iron to prevent anemia. It is found in red meat, chicken, eggs, green vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
- Calcium to build strong bones and teeth, can be taken through supplements or food like dairy products.
- Prebiotics such as oligofructose as pregnant mums are prone to constipation, to increase intestinal bifidobacteria and maintain good gut health.
- like edamame, capsicums, whole-wheat bread, eggs, spinach, and chives.
Another good thing to consume when you're expecting is coconut water. It has a lot of benefits such as electrolytes, potassium, Vitamin C, protein, sodium and dietary fibre. Coconut water can also help counter morning sickness heartburn, and constipation in the first trimester, while reducing fluctuating blood pressure in the last trimester.
In addition, it can fight infection, UTI, help control sugar and improve blood circulation.
As coconut water has zero calories, it also ensures a fit body and controls fat. It also hydrates the body and prevents dehydration. You can also get the benefits through cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, coconut meat or coconut milk.
What to avoid
Along with must-haves, there are also must-avoids to strictly abide by so you don't compromise your or your baby's health.
- Alcohol can cause mental and physical health disorders in your baby, with the impact classified as .
- Caffeine in a limited dosage of 200 mg per day, if at all. High caffeine consumption can lead to low birth weights or pre-term birth. For the pregnant mum, this is a stimulant that can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Excess sugar, salt and fat.
- Foods that may contain the bacteria listeria include soft cheeses, uncooked deli meats, raw meat or fish, and unpasteurised milk and milk products.
- Foods high in mercury such as tuna, swordfish, mackerel and shark.
To find our more about what food to avoid during pregnancy, read this.
Aside from consuming foods that have good nutrients while expecting, there are other ways to ensure that your body is able to absorb these vitamins and minerals.
- Get enough sleep. Not having enough sleep can negatively impact your health and lead to birth-related complications. It also reduces the ability of the body to absorb nutrients.
- Drink enough fluids. This lets you avoid constipation, keeps the digestive system running smoothly, and help with the circulation of extra blood flowing in the body due to pregnancy.
- Eat enough. While pregnant mums are not advised to eat for two, the average weight gain is around 13kg. Being underweight can cause pregnancy complications. A is about eating across food groups like green leafy veggies for folic acid, dairy products or broccoli for calcium, colourful veggies for vitamins A and C, lean beef for protein, and whole grain cereals for iron and zinc.
- Prenatal vitamins can also supply the essential nutrients necessary for a pregnancy. These should include nutrients like folic acid, iron, calcium and Vitamin D. It can also include DHA, omega fats, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc and iodine.
- Maternal milk can also provide a lot of the nutrients necessary, so keep in mind that the best maternal milk should have high nutritional value (like DHA and choline), be safe and GMO-free, low-fat content, and low sugar content.
Consider a pregnancy diet plan
Having a pregnancy diet plan can help customise what you need for your body. This takes into account factors like age, lifestyle, family health records, food intolerances, allergies, medications and supplements, digestive concerns, budget, wellness priorities and culture.
A personalised plan can help as a pregnant mum may not be able to consume all the recommended foods assumed for pregnancy. It can also help identify supplements necessary to make up for weaknesses in one’s nutrient consumption.
Engaging a professional such as a nutritionist can help design a plan to be effective, efficient, and easy for a pregnant mum, who already has so many things to consider for her and her child's health.
Check with your gynaecologist
Before taking any supplements or prenatal vitamins, always on what kind and how much to take. An excess of nutrients may cause adverse effects and your trusted professional can always guide you through the process.
Original Publisher: theAsianparent