Nutrition During Pregnancy ─ What to Eat When Pregnant

Optimize your Health and your Baby’s Health by Eating a Nutritious, Balanced Diet During Pregnancy

There is surmountable evidence that a baby’s health is influenced by their mother’s diet during pregnancy. Current thinking is that proper nutrition in pregnancy may reduce a baby’s risk of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the future. Good nutrition in pregnancy also optimizes your health as the mother, helping you to deal with the demands of pregnancy. Learning what to eat when pregnant is exceedingly important to give your baby the best possible start to their new life. Listed below are the vital foods to focus on during your pregnancy.

Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for you and for your baby. They are broken down into glucose, which passes easily across the placenta. Unrefined carbohydrates (such as brown rice and quinoa) are less processed, so they break down more slowly in the bloodstream and release glucose gradually. They are also a good source of fiber, which helps prevent constipation. For a healthy diet at least half, if not all, of your carbohydrates should come from unrefined (whole grain) sources, such as whole-wheat or multigrain bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and cereals.

Protein is essential for the growth of the baby and the placenta, as well as for your health. Choose protein sources that contain less saturated fat, such as skinless chicken, lean beef and pork, tofu, low fat cheese and yogurt. Fats contain vitamins, and contribute to the healthy development of cells. However, their intake needs to be limited. Choose healthier unsaturated fats, found in foods such as fish and some types of oil, over unhealthy saturated fats found in whole milk dairy products, meat, or trans fats found in processed foods. Studies suggest that the development of the baby’s nervous system may be boosted by omega 3 fatty acids, the most abundant source of which is found in fatty fish, such as salmon and anchovies. Wild salmon is very rich in omega 3, and is a healthier and more eco friendly choice over farmed fish. Other sources include omega 3-enriched eggs, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, and omega 3 supplements and prenatal vitamins containing omega 3 fatty acids.

Dairy products are also important components of your diet since they provide a good supply of proteins and fats, as well as calcium and some necessary vitamins. Calcium is essential for the healthy development of bones and teeth in your baby. Opt for low-fat dairy products, since they contain less saturated fat.

As long as you eat a varied diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, you should be getting all you need, with a couple of exceptions. It can be hard to get enough iron in your diet to meet the demands of pregnancy. Your doctor will check your iron levels during pregnancy and supplements may be recommended.

During pregnancy, most women need to increase their caloric intake by 100-300 calories a day for proper nutrition and weight gain. Gaining the correct amount of weight in pregnancy has benefits for both mother and baby. You’re more likely to return to your pre-pregnancy weight if you gain weight within the recommended guidelines. Gaining too much weight is linked with bigger babies, which carries future risks to the baby’s health. Conversely, gaining too little weight is also not ideal for a baby’s future health.