When a mother is expecting, proper nutrition is one of the most important things that she can do for her baby. When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, what a pregnant woman eats makes all the difference for the developing baby, so it's key to make sure that the proper nutrients are consumed, and that the wrong foods are avoided.
Essential Nutrients for Your Baby
There are a variety of nutrients essential for your growing baby, and while they can be found in food, the higher number of nutrients needed make taking prenatal vitamins an important part of your pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins will provide you with the most important nutrients for your baby, such as folic acid, that can be difficult to obtain fully even with the most balanced of diets. Folic acid is necessary, as this B vitamin is known for preventing birth defects in your baby's developing brain and spine. Folic acid can be found in a variety of foods, including leafy greens, and cereals that are fortified to contain it.
Another important nutrient that is vital in a healthy pregnancy diet include calcium, which helps to ensure that your baby's bones and teeth are developing properly. Calcium, as well as vitamin D, can be found in a variety of dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, as well as in fish and some leafy green vegetables.
Iron is important for everyone, but it plays even more of an important role in the pregnant mother's diet. Found in foods such as meat, fish, some cereals, beans, and poultry, iron can help the mother to make more blood, thus supplying the growing baby with the oxygen necessary for survival.
Protein is important for the growth of your baby's brain and heart, and can also give the pregnant mother a great boost of energy! Protein can be found in meats, beans, nuts, and poultry - many of the same foods as iron.
What to Eat and What to Avoid
Choosing healthy meals during pregnancy is key to a healthy balanced diet for both mother and baby. Pregnancy nutrition must be considered during this time, especially when planning meals.
So what should you eat during pregnancy? Healthy food, such as vegetables (particularly leafy greens), foods that contain iron and protein, such as beans, nuts, meat, poultry, and tofu, as well as foods rich in calcium. Most fish is safe to eat, and in fact it is encouraged to consume fish (no more than 12 ounces per week, however) because of the Omega-3 fatty acid it contains, but others, such as swordfish, should be avoided in pregnancy.
Dairy products, fruit, and whole grains are essential to a mother's and growing baby's health, and drinking a lot of water is important for healthy growth not only for the baby, but for the mother, as well.
When pregnant, avoiding certain foods and beverages is important to remember. Avoid raw fish and meat, such as rare steaks and even sushi, due to food borne illness that can occur from eating foods that are undercooked. Limiting caffeine to 200mg a day is important, as well as avoiding alcohol and unpasteurized foods and beverages altogether.