Healthy Pregnancy and Eating Right

Your regular monthly visitor has been missing for weeks now. You’re feeling queasy, your breasts feel tender, and for no reason at all, the sight of your husband makes you want to slap him. And when you tried to take out the trash this morning, the odor from the garbage can made you gag. These and a few others are the signs of a healthy pregnancy.

Congratulations!  You’re having a baby! This is definitely one of the greatest milestones in life. You have a tiny living creature inside of you. That means you now have to take extra care of yourself.

Food for a Healthy Pregnancy

To have a healthy pregnancy, having a healthy diet is very important. Keep in mind you’re eating for two now. That means you need to take in more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to support both you and your baby.

Water

During pregnancy, your blood volume increases. This means you have to make sure you are properly hydrated. Dehydration during pregnancy is scary as it can lead to premature labor.

In addition, drinking in more water helps relieve constipation and also reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.

Furthermore, water has many benefits for you and your baby. It flushes out toxins, delivers nutrients to the body, and also helps build new cells.

You are recommended to drink 1-2 liters of water a day when pregnant.

Dairy Products

It is important to consume extra calcium and protein to meet the needs of the growing fetus. One of the best dairy products to eat while pregnant is yogurt. On top of the high calcium and protein content it contains, yogurt also has probiotics. Probiotics reduces pregnancy complications like vaginal infections, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and allergies.

Eggs

Eggs is one of the most nutritious food since it is packed with practically every nutrient the body needs. Eating them is a great way to increase the body’s overall nutrient intake. Eggs also contain choline. Choline is as essential nutrient for proper brain development and good brain health.

Whole Grains

Whole grains means it contains every single part of the original kernel—the germ, the endosperm, and the bran. They are loaded with plant compounds, fiber, protein, and essential vitamins. They have a high amount of B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, which are important for a healthy pregnancy.  

Cod Liver Oil

This is very rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These are essential for fetal eye and brain development. Cod liver oil is also a great source for vitamins A and D. Taking this supplement has been linked to higher birth weight and a lower risk of disease later in the baby’s life.

However, keep in mind that only one serving (about 1 teaspoon) is recommended. Too much preformed vitamin A can be dangerous to the baby. Too much omega-3 fatty acids also has blood-thinning effects.

Salmon

Here’s another food that’s loaded with essential omega-3 fatty acids. The allowable intake of fatty fish for pregnant women is 2-3 meals a week. Again, be careful not to eat too much fatty fish. This is because of the mercury content and other contaminants present in fatty fish.

Lean Meat

Lean meat such as chicken, beef, and pork are an excellent source for high-quality protein. In addition, pork and beef are rich in iron, choline, and important B vitamins. These are needed in higher amounts especially for a healthy pregnancy.

Iron intake is very important. It is critical in the baby’s development of red blood cell supply. It also helps build the baby’s brain by strengthening nerve connections.

If you have low levels of iron during early pregnancy or midpregnancy, this causes iron deficiency anemia. This heightens the risk of low birth weight and premature delivery.

Legumes

These are a great source for protein, iron, fiber, calcium, and folate. These are very important for a healthy pregnancy. Folate reduces the risk of birth defects and some diseases. This is very important for the health of the mother and the fetus, most especially during the first trimester.

Some examples of healthy legumes you can munch on are peas, beans, peanuts, soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene. This converts to vitamin A once in the body. Pregnant women are advised to increase their vitamin A intake, but only by 10–40 percent. Too much plant-based vitamin A causes toxicity when taken too much. You need just the right amount of vitamin A for proper fetal growth and healthy fetal development.

Sweet potatoes also contain fiber. This reduces blood sugar spikes, increases fullness, and improves digestive health and mobility.

Berries

The different kinds of berries are a great snack option. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries contain water, fiber, healthy carbs, vitamin C, folate, and plant compounds.

Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron properly. It also boosts skin health and the immune system.  

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy vegetables contain essential nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. These include vitamins A, C, and K. They also have fiber, potassium, iron, and folate. Furthermore, they contain powerful antioxidants that fight against harmful free radicals.

Some examples of these leafy greens are kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, broccoli, Romaine lettuce, bok choy, and cabbage.

Food to Avoid

Raw Meat

To maintain a healthy pregnancy, stay away from rare or undercooked meat. Eating them might make you feel sick and could potentially harm your baby. You could get infected by the toxoplasma parasite. Undercooked meat also carries the risk of food poisoning from the salmonella bacteria. Lastly, raw meat might have coliform bacteria.

Canned Food

Canned food are packed and stored away for long periods of time. Thus, you should not eat any during pregnancy. Why? Well, first, the lining in the cans often contain bisphenol A (BPA). This affects the fetal endocrine activity. Next, the packed food might be too old and could harbor harmful bacteria because of the long shelf life.

Certain Seafood

You might have to say goodbye (at least for 9 months) to your favorite sushi. During pregnancy, you must avoid fish with high levels of mercury. Consuming mercury when pregnant leads to developmental delays and brain damage to the baby.

Examples of fish with mercury content are shark, king mackerel, tilefish, tuna, and swordfish.

In addition, seafood with labels like jerky, kippered, lox, or nova-styled should be avoided too. These could have listeria.

Finally, pregnant women should avoid raw or undercooked shellfish as well. They may have algae-related infections associated with red tides. These shellfish include mussels, oysters, and clams.

Soft Cheeses

Imported soft cheeses may contain listeria. These cheeses are from unpasteurized milk. To be safe, avoid cheeses like Camembert, feta, Gorgonzola, brie, Roquefort and Mexican-style cheeses (queso fresco and queso blanco).

Caffeine

For a healthy pregnancy, it is important to avoid caffeine, especially during the first trimester. Studies show that there is a connection between caffeine intake and the likelihood of a miscarriage.

However, there are studies that show you can drink caffeine in moderation (I know some of you can’t say no to an early morning cup of joe). As a general rule, you can only take 200 mg or less of caffeine in a day during pregnancy.

Aside from miscarriages, excess caffeine intake also leads to low birth weight, premature birth, and withdrawal symptoms in infants.

Alcohol

Now this is common knowledge. Drinking even the smallest amount of alcohol while pregnant is not safe at all. Prenatal exposure to alcohol interferes with the healthy development of the fetus. Alcohol consumption also leads to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or other developmental orders.

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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