Now that you are pregnant, it is time to start thinking seriously about your health. Your baby relies on you to keep him safe, healthy, and happy, so it's important to make sure that you maintain your own health as much as possible. Having a healthy diet during pregnancy is a way to ensure that your baby develops properly and grows to be big and strong. Your baby gets all of his vitamins and nutrients from you, so it is important that your diet is well balanced and nutritious during these next nine months. Here are some tips on how to make sure that your diet is geared for a great pregnancy.
An Important Step
Creating a nutritious pregnancy diet that you can stick to is one of the most important steps that you can take. In order to develop properly, your baby needs specific vitamins and nutrients throughout these nine months. Minerals like calcium and iron help her to grow healthy skin, teeth, and bones, while vitamins A and C help her to develop her organs, like her heart and lungs. Without the proper vitamins, your baby may not be able to develop these necessities. Your pregnancy diet will also help you to gain the necessary weight to ensure a healthy baby. A good pregnancy diet will keep you strong and healthy too, making it easier to combat fatigue, morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms.
Though you may have heard that pregnancy is a time where you can go on an all-out "food frenzy", this is actually an old wives tale. Technically, you are not actually eating for two. You really only need a little bit extra to help your baby get all those necessary nutrients. Don't worry if you go overboard once ' after all, you do deserve a treat ' but try not to do it all the time.
It is recommended that most mothers add about 100 calories to their diet during the first trimester. This would be the equivalent of a granola bar or small yogurt. During the second and third trimester you are going to need to gain a little bit more weight, so try adding about 300 more calories to your average diet. This could include an extra nutritious snack, like a buttered bagel and a piece of fruit.
Also, not everything you put in your mouth is good for you and your baby. There are certain foods to avoid during pregnancy as consuming them may possibly harm you or your baby.
Take Your Vitamins!
As your mom always used to say, it's "time to take your vitamins"! Now that you are pregnant, your baby is relying on your for all the vitamins and minerals that are necessary to his development. Vitamins and minerals will also keep your placenta healthy and satisfy your own pregnancy nutrition needs.
Iron is an essential part of any pregnancy diet. This mineral helps to increase the amount of blood flowing to your placenta. Because blood circulation nearly doubles during pregnancy, you are going to need a lot of iron. Iron is best absorbed by the body when it is gotten from natural food sources, including:
- dried fruits
- fish, poultry, and red meat
- fortified breads and cereals
Folic acid, also known as folate, is very important to your baby's development. Folic acid helps your baby to form important tissues around her brain and spinal cord, which helps to prevent her from nerve damage. Deficiencies in folic acid can cause serious neural tube defects, which can really hurt your baby. Be sure to get lots of folic acid, particularly in the first trimester. Find a prenatal supplement that has folic acid and get extra by eating:
- leafy green vegetables
- fortified breads and cereals
Calcium and Vitamin D
In order to be happy and healthy, your baby needs to have strong bones and teeth. She also needs to be able to form all of her different organs. Calcium and vitamin D play a vital role in the development of these parts of baby. Expectant mothers need to get between 1000 to 1300mg of calcium everyday, so make sure you consume lots of calcium-rich foods. Try eating:
- milk and milk products
- tofu and soy beverages
Your Daily Pregnancy Diet
It can be hard to know exactly what you are supposed to eat, even when you aren't pregnant! Here's a little guide that will help to make sure you and your baby get all the nutrition in pregnancy that you need. Remember, a healthy diet includes all four food groups.
- Grains include breads, rice, pasta, and other foods that contain mostly starches. They provide you with carbohydrates and sugars, which will give you energy. Aim for 6 to 11 grain servings a day during pregnancy. One serving could include:
- 1 slice of bread
- 1/2 cup of cooked pasta
- 3/4 cup of cold cereal
- Milk Products
- Milk is especially important during pregnancy, because you need lots of calcium and vitamin D. Try to get at least four servings, which might include:
- 1 cup of yogurt
- 1 cup of low-fat milk
- 1 ½ ounces of hard cheese
- Fruit and Vegetables
- Be sure to get your fruits and veggies in because they contain so many vital nutrients. They also taste great! Aim for 6 to 12 servings a day. One serving might be:
- one medium-sized fruit
- 1 cup of salad
- 5-6 small carrots
- Protein products give us the nutrients we need to build and repair our body tissues. Try to include 3 servings a day. One serving might be:
- 3 ounces of lean red meat, poultry, or fish
- 1/3 cup of tofu
- 1 cup of beans
For more information about your diet and pregnancy check out our pregnancy videos.