Nine months of pregnancy is not that easy for any woman. Being pregnant requires having that extra amount of energy, patience, and endurance for this most demanding of human female experiences. Extra care must be taken in caring for one’s self which includes following the diet and making the environment as conducive as possible for a healthy pregnancy.
Men might think that women are just burdened by the extra physical weight that comes with pregnancy. In truth, pregnancy is a very complex and delicate process. A human being is developing inside a woman’s womb and everything that a mother does, thinks, feels, and says affects her baby.
By preparing for pregnancy, the woman would be able to minimize the health risks and even enjoy the duration of her pregnancy. Needless to say, a very important aspect of pregnancy is taking care of the woman’s health. Part of taking care of a pregnant woman’s health is the use of “prenatal vitamins“. These are multivitamins that are specifically made for pregnant women. These supplements make up for any nutritional deficiencies in the pregnant mother’s diet during the course of their pregnancy. The vitamins contain more folic acid, iron, and calcium — all of which are important to ensure the proper health and development of both the mother and the baby. Folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects, specifically of the brain and the spinal cord. Calcium, on the other hand, prevents the mother from losing her bone density as her baby uses this mineral for bone growth. Lastly, iron is needed to help both the mother and her unborn child’s blood increase oxygen levels in their respective bloodstreams.
Pregnant Women Food and Diet
Fast facts on eating during pregnancy:
- A pregnant woman’s calorie intake grows during pregnancy. She does not eat for two; her calorie consumption just goes up a few hundred calories a day for most pregnant women.
- Typical weight gain, if the mother is carrying just one baby, varies considerably based on pre-pregnancy weight and other factors. An underweight pregnant women is recommended to gain the most, whereas an overweight woman is recommended to gain the least.
- A woman’s body absorbs iron more efficiently and blood volume increases when she is pregnant, so she has to consume more iron to make sure that both she and her baby have an adequate oxygen supply.
Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy
The following foods are best avoided during pregnancy:
- Mercury in some types of fish – shark, swordfish, and marlin should be avoided, or kept to an absolute minimum.
- Uncooked or partially cooked meat – this should be avoided, it should be cooked right through. Uncooked shellfish – there is a risk of bacterial or viral contamination which can cause food poisoning. Some bacteria and viruses can also cross the placenta and harm the baby.
- Raw eggs – including any foods with raw or partially cooked eggs in them. Eggs must be well cooked through to avoid salmonella infection.
- Uncooked or undercooked ready-prepared meals – it is crucial that ready-prepared meals are cooked through until they are piping hot. The risk of listeriosis exists, as well as infection from other pathogens.
- Pate – any type of pate, be it vegetable or meat-based – the risk here is also of listeria infection.
- Soft mold-ripened cheese – such as blue-veined cheese, Brie or Camembert. There is a risk of listeria infection. Listeria is a group of bacteria that can cause potentially fatal infections to pregnant women and their babies.
- Empty calorie foods – cakes, biscuits, cookies, chips and candy should be kept to a minimum. Many of these options are high in sugar and fat, have little nutritional content, and may undermine a pregnant woman’s efforts at maintaining a healthy body weight.
Nutrient variety is key with pregnancy diet
When pregnant, it’s vital to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure you get all of the nutrients you need to grow your baby. Think fresh, real foods, and prioritize these nutrients:
- Calcium (dairy, dark leafy greens, okra, and fish bones)
- Choline (chicken eggs, fish eggs and non-GMO sunflower lecithin)
- DHA (wild caught, oily fish)
- Folate (dark leafy greens, asparagus and broccoli)
- Iodine (sea vegetables, cod, shrimp and baked potato with skin)
- Iron (red meat, liver, and blackstrap molasses)
- Potassium (coconut water, bananas, and avocados)
- Magnesium (leafy greens, avocados, and brown rice)
- Vitamin A (cod liver oil, liver, and orange vegetables in the form of beta carotene)
- Vitamin C (green peppers, kiwis, and tomatoes)
- High quality protein (see list later in post)
- High quality fat (coconut oil, organic butter, and nuts & seeds)
The above-mentioned nutrients are super important for the development of baby and health of mom. Calcium supports strong bones. Choline is vital for brain development, cell membrane formation and also protects against neural tube defects. Vitamin A and DHA are essential for baby’s brain formation as well as eye, skin and nervous system development. Iron builds your placenta and supports oxygenating blood for your growing baby. Potassium can help keep mom’s blood pressure in healthy range. Magnesium will help with mom’s sleep quality and ward of restless leg syndrome, body pain and muscle cramping. Vitamin C keeps your bag of waters strong which is important in labor.
Another thing that a mother should keep in mind is that she has to gain weight during her pregnancy. It is not safe to lose weight when one is pregnant since both the baby and the mother need the right amount of nutrients in order for them to become healthy. It is a good sign if a pregnant woman gains weight since this is a sign that the baby is getting all the nutrients and is growing at a healthy rate. A pregnant woman need not eat meals for two, but she needs extra calories for the growth of the baby. About two to four pounds are gained within the first three months of pregnancy, and a pound a week for the next few weeks ahead. The extra weight goes to the baby, the mother’s placenta, breast tissue, and blood supply. The woman’s body also stores fat and other nutrients that will be needed once she enters the breastfeeding stage.
A healthy pregnant woman’s diet should include a variety of foods in order to get all the nutrients needed. A good six to eleven servings of bread and grains, two to four servings of fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and protein sources (eggs, nuts, meat, poultry) are equally important. Having a high fiber diet is always good. Meals like pasta, rice, cereals, and bread should be provided to a pregnant woman. The pregnant woman should also consume at least four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day. She needs at least 1000-1300 milligrams of calcium in the woman’s diet. She should also have a regular source of Vitamin C everyday, including fruits and vegetables. A good 70 milligrams of Vitamin C each day is sufficient for both the mother and her baby.
Indeed, a pregnant woman deserves all the best in terms of diet, rest, environment, and not to mention, the loving support from her husband and family. Pregnancy is a delightful human experience. But is also takes a great deal of work to ensure that both the mother and her baby will have a long, healthy life beyond the pregnancy period.
Are You Pregnant?
Follow these simple pregnancy tips on safety and nutrition to stay healthy throughout the nine months before you give birth to a healthy baby.