A balanced and healthy diet is crucial for everyone, especially if you’re expecting a child. During pregnancy, you must take good care of your health and make specific dietary changes to get all the nutrients essential for your and your child’s well-being.
In the first trimester, you may not feel like eating anything, and this will put you in constant worry about not getting all kinds of essential nutrients.
Eating healthy and nutritious food is critical for the baby’s development and the mother’s health. Taking in the right kinds of nutrients could even help you ease the symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, cramps, constipation, headaches, and heartburn. You may feel things improving in the second trimester which is also referred to as the honeymoon trimester.
In the last trimester, when your diet increases, and you feel like eating so many things, then you may need additional support for your belly, in that case, you could use belly bands as well. They will support your belly and will also improve your posture. So, to make things easy for you, I have enlisted the best foods you could consume during pregnancy to keep both the baby and your tummy happy and healthy!
Best Foods To Eat During Pregnancy
Fishes like wild salmon are rich in DHA omega-3 fatty acids. The baby’s brain and retina of the eye are primarily composed of DHA.
Salmon can be prepared in many ways and has a great taste, so it is easier to include in diets. But you must avoid eating other types of fish that have high amounts of mercury in them, such as mackerel, tuna, and marlin.
Broccoli And Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach are excellent choices for prenatal superfoods, while unhealthy diet sources may pose a negative impact on birth weight.
They are rich in antioxidants that may decrease oxidative stress caused due to movement of free radicals in the body and may help in improving overall health.
They are packed with many nutrients, such as iron, folate, calcium, vitamins, phosphorus, and zinc. Kale is rich in Vitamin B6, which is known to ease morning sickness.
Lean meat is an excellent source of proteins and many nutrients, especially iron. Women that are expecting are relatively at a higher risk of developing anemia and this could negatively impact the baby’s health.
Low levels of iron result in reduced synthesis of hemoglobin which in turn decreases the oxygen supply to the fetus. This hypoxic condition could damage the baby and the baby may have low levels of oxygen and a purplish tinge to the skin, at the time of birth.
It is also a good source of Vitamin B and choline which are required in slightly more amounts for milk production in lactating women. Eating lean meat may decrease the risk of low body weight during birth.
Dried Fruits And Nuts
Pregnancy could be different for everyone and while some women may not feel hungry at all, some constantly may crave different things during their first trimester.
Thus, instead of munching on unhealthy food, you could try dried fruits and nuts. Make a trail mix and keep it in a container that you could carry all the time.
Dried fruits like prunes, figs, and apricots are a good source of instant glucose and may help you keep gestational diabetes at bay.
Along with that many dried nuts such as walnuts and almonds are good plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They are essential for the development of the baby and could cut the risk of neurological disorders in the postnatal period as well.
Whole grains contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are necessary for cell development and protecting the cells from damage. They are rich in magnesium, iron folic acid, selenium, Vitamin B complex, and fiber.
If you are expecting, you may consider switching your plain white bread and rice with brown bread and brown rice.
Dairy products are packed with high proteins and essential nutrients. And to meet the needs of your growing fetus, you must add dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt to your diet.
Yogurt contains whey and Casein protein which is essential for the healthy development of cells and tissues.
Other than that, yogurt also has a healthy number of micronutrients such as phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium.
Since yogurt is probiotic in nature, it keeps the gut healthy which in turn supports good digestion and ends many pregnancy-related digestive disorders such as constipation and irregular bowel movement.
Sweet potatoes are not only delicious in taste but also rich in nutrients and have acquired their orange color due to the presence of a plant pigment, Beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene gets converted into Vitamin A which is essential for the development of healthy lungs and eyes in the fetus.
However, note that vitamin A is stored in the liver and excessive consumption of vitamin A could lead to liver damage.
Also, if you are already consuming vitamin A supplements, avoid adding them to your diet as well because they may cause toxicity.
Eggs are a very good option for pregnant women as it is rich in fats, proteins, vitamins, and many minerals.
A single, large egg could provide up to 6 grams of protein and has 80 calories.
An egg gives about 150 mg of choline which is 1/3rd of the daily recommended amount. Choline is good for the development of cognitive functions as well as may prevent the baby from many prenatal and postnatal diseases such as neural tube defects.
In addition, look for food sources that may have the following nutrients which could support your overall health and well-being-
- Complex carbohydrates: They may help with your minerals and fiber requirements and are a good source of energy.
- Protein: Proteins are essential for the proper development and growth of your baby. It helps in better organ formation and keeps the baby strong.
- Calcium: Calcium supplementation may help in preventing pregnancy complications and improve maternal and infant bone health.
- Iron and Folate: You need a good amount of folate in food to avoid any pregnancy-related risks such as neural tube defects. Iron helps in more hemoglobin synthesis to improve oxygen supply to the fetus.
- Vitamin D: It is an important mineral that may keep the bones strong and boosts immunity to avoid any chance of infection during pregnancy.
The baby needs a lot of nutrients growing up and sometimes it may get difficult for you to consume so much food. Just the thought of eating for one extra person is enough to make you feel overwhelmed.
Also, while I have mentioned the foods you must consume during pregnancy, you must also take care of the habits and foods to avoid when you’re expecting.
Limit the consumption of unhealthy, processed food and try replacing it with healthier snack options. You must take good care of your sleeping pattern and quit the use of alcohol and cigarettes.
Make sure you’re staying hydrated and in continuous touch with your gynecologist in order for the pregnancy to go smoothly.
Rachel has been a freelance medical writer for more than 18 years. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2005 and is currently practicing as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at a Level I trauma center.