Best nutrition during pregnancy
Proper nutrition during pregnancy is important both for you and for your growing baby. The more nutrients you obtain, the more you have for your baby and there will be no risk for your stocks to run out until the baby takes what it needs. Here are some of the most important nutrients during pregnancy, of which you and your baby will need:
- folic acid
- omega-3 fatty acid
- fiber (fiber)
- vitamin D
Energy during pregnancy
Obtaining enough energy and enough baby-calorie foods is essential during pregnancy. Energy ensure healthy growth and development of the baby and gives you enough energy during the day while helping to deal with feelings of fatigue during pregnancy.
The best sources of energy are foods with high nutritional value, which are also a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Among these foods are lean meats, dairy products, whole grains and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Proteins during pregnancy
Proteins that you take during pregnancy are the building blocks needed for your baby’s development. They build the tissue and the blood cells of the baby and help the formation of a healthy placenta. Proteins maintain and restore your tissues during pregnancy and help you to gain weight properly.
Protein can be obtained from animal and vegetable sources, but those from animal sources are absorbed more easily by the body and contain essential amino acids. Important sources of protein are lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, lentils and nuts.
Calcium during pregnancy
Besides being essential for the development of a healthy heart, muscles and nervous system, calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth of the baby.
The best source of calcium are dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. They have a high content of calcium in a form which is easily absorbed by the body, and furthermore contain important nutrients for the bones and teeth. Spinach and broccoli are among the plant foods, which are good sources of calcium. Plant sources, however, contain oxalic acid and phytic acid, which on the other hand make difficult the absorption of the calcium from the body.
Iron during pregnancy
Iron is necessary for the proper development and functioning of the baby’s brain and red blood cells. Getting enough iron reduces the risk of anemia and premature birth, and the possibility of having a baby underweight.
Iron occurs in two forms – heme and non-heme. Heme iron found in foods of animal origin and is absorbed easily by the body opposite to the non-heme iron found in plant foods. Good sources of heme iron are foods such as mussels, liver, beef and chicken. Good sources of iron include fortified non-heme bakery foods and cereals, lentils, beans, tofu and spinach. If these foods are taken with other vitamin C-rich foods they will increase the amount of the absorbed iron.
Zinc during pregnancy
The micronutrient zinc is necessary for maintaining healthy metabolism and for proper growth and tissue repair.
Good sources of zinc from animal origin are beef and lamb, and from the plants are wheat bran, spinach, nuts and sunflower seeds. Like non-heme iron, zinc from whole grains and vegetable sources is absorbed by the body more difficult because of the relatively high content of phytic acid.
Folic acid during pregnancy
Getting enough folic acid, especially in early pregnancy, is important to prevent the development of neural tube defects in the baby. It helps the production of body cells and DNA. The recommended daily intake for pregnant women is 400 μg. Good sources of folic acid include liver, lentils, asparagus, spinach, red beans, avocados, freshly squeezed orange juice and chickpeas.
Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids group, which must be obtained from food. These include alpha linolenic acid (ALA), as the starting material in the family of omega-3 and its byproducts, the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They are important for cognitive development, the brain and the nervous system of the baby.
A good source of essential fatty acids is fish, especially fatty fish. Try once a week to eat fatty fish and once – white fish (but avoid shark, swordfish and marlin). If you do not like fish, seek advice from a health professional which supplement is appropriate in this case.
Dietary fibers during pregnancy
Dietary fibers, also known as fibers, help digestion by adding essential nutrients and prevent constipation. There is evidence that soluble fiber, such as in oatmeal, help to lower the level of “bad” cholesterol.
Good sources of fiber are whole grains with bran, beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, bananas and apples. To avoid bloating, it is important to increase your fiber intake gradually, while increasing and fluid intake.
Liquids – what to drink during pregnancy
Drinking enough fluids is especially important when you are pregnant. Liquids are those that carry nutrients to the cells, including the nutrients for the baby through the placenta. They also take out the waste products result of the body metabolism and help prevent constipation.
It is best to drink water. If you wish, you can add a slice of lemon or lime for flavor. Of course, you can drink other liquids such as milk or unsweetened fruit juice.
Some foods also contribute to your fluid intake that you need. For example, soups with clear broth, chicken or vegetable soup – from all of them except nutrients you receive extra fluids.
Drinks should be avoided during pregnancy
It is recommended to limit or to avoid some drinks during pregnancy, if possible. Drinks such as coffee, tea, carbonated and energy drinks contain caffeine should be completely limited.
Drinking large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can cause a number of physical and mental birth defects in the fetus. For this reason, experts advise pregnant women not to drink any alcohol, including beer, wine, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Vitamin D during pregnancy
Vitamin D is important for healthy course of pregnancy, from building strong bones and healthy heart to a better immunity and even to prevent some types of cancers. You can obtain vitamin D, when expose your skin to the sun. Unfortunately vitamin D levels in many women are extremely low due to lack of sunlight during most of the year in some places and due to SPF usage. Experts recommend taking daily vitamin D as a supplement to procure the necessary amount of it.
Vitamin D occurs naturally in some foods, but they are usually consumed rarely and in insufficient quantities. Good sources of vitamin D are fatty fish (herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon), yolks of eggs and some fortified foods.
Your healthy eating during pregnancy is very important as vitamins and minerals go to the placenta, and from there – in your baby. Healthy eating during pregnancy will give your newborn baby the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong.
Even if you always eat healthy, there are some foods that you should avoid during pregnancy.
Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy can prevent the maintenance of a healthy diet, but if you eat balanced and taking nutritional supplements for pregnant women you should manage to obtain enough nutrients to keep yourself and your baby in good health.
Useful information on healthy eating during pregnancy
- Eat less and often. Try to stick to a regime with 3 meals a day with 2-3 snacks in between.
- Eat more often fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes to increase the intake of dietary fiber.
- Try to obtain enough vitamins and minerals. Start taking multivitamins and supplements with folic acid for pregnant women.
- Good source of vitamin C, which you can add to your diet are red peppers, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and tomatoes.
- Drink at least two liters of water a day in addition to other liquids such as low-fat milk, fresh juices and soups.
- Drink maximum two tea or two coffees a day.
- Try once a week to eat oily fish and white fish (but avoid shark, swordfish and marlin).
- Foods and canned foods can be high in salt, so it is good to avoid them when possible.
Sweets, chips, cakes, biscuits and sugar have high nutritional value – but rather pay extra calories – so it’s best to take them only on special occasions or replace them with healthier substitutes. If you manage to resist them, you will be much easier to regain your original figure after giving birth.
If you think that you are not getting enough food from a specific food group and are concerned that your diet may have lack of certain vitamins, minerals or other nutrients, consult your health professional or doctor. They will give you advice on healthy eating and will consider whether you need to take suitable dietary supplement for pregnant women.