Eating for two. More than likely you’ve heard this expression used when talking about pregnancy. While most people use it to refer to how much you should eat, it is better to think about it in terms of what you should eat. This is because what you eat directly affects both you and your unborn baby.
During pregnancy, your health is an important part of your baby’s development. Your body is providing a safe place for the baby to grow and what you eat affects your well-being. An unhealthy diet could lead to pre-term labor, which can cause serious problems for you and your baby. On the other hand, a healthy diet fuels your body with the nutrients it needs to sustain a pregnancy.
What you eat when you are pregnant also affects your baby. The food and drinks you consume are the main source of nourishment for your unborn baby. Everything that you take in creates the foundation for their development and growth. This is why it is so important to maintain a healthy diet while you are pregnant.
A healthy diet during pregnancy should be well-balanced among the food groups and rich in essential nutrients and vitamins, including the following:
The American Pregnancy Association states that pregnant women need at least 1000 mg of calcium each day. Dairy products, like milk and yogurt, are good sources. Dark green, leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach, also contain calcium.
Iron helps deliver oxygen throughout your body and to your baby. Eating 3 servings of lean meats, poultry, or beans each day will ensure you are getting the recommended amount for pregnant women.
Protein is essential for your baby’s growth. In addition to eggs and nuts, you can also add fish to your diet. Just make sure it is a type with the lowest mercury levels, like salmon, tilapia, or trout.
Folate or Folic Acid
Folate, or folic acid in man-made supplements, reduces the risk of neural-tube defects for your baby. Choose legumes, like lima beans, or chickpeas, asparagus, and broccoli to eat during your pregnancy.
While not necessarily rich in vitamins, it is important to remain hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps prevent health issues for you, like bladder infections, and also delivers nutrients to the baby.
Foods to Avoid When You are Pregnant
Pregnancy takes a toll on your body, can weaken your immune system, and makes you vulnerable to illness. Because of this, some foods have a high risk of causing harm to you and your baby. Some examples include:
- Raw or undercooked meat
- Sushi and raw shellfish
- Unpasteurized foods
- Deli meat
- Fish high in mercury
The choices you make during pregnancy affect both you and your baby. Eating a healthy diet while avoiding high-risk foods is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s growth and development.