Nutrition during pregnancy is a long-debated topic. Up until recently, pregnant women were often encouraged to eat as much of whatever they wanted since they were "eating for two.” However, we now know that expectant moms need proper nutrition in order to give themselves a better chance at a healthy pregnancies and deliveries, and healthy babies as well.
Not getting the right nutrition while pregnant can lead to serious health risks and concerns for mom and baby, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies, diabetes during pregnancy, high blood pressure, difficult labor, premature birth and low birth weight. To prevent these complications, a good diet, combined with regular exercise and smart lifestyle choices, is a must for pregnant women.
It’s important for pregnant women to talk to their doctor about what nutrition plan is best for them. A midwife or doctor will be the best resource when it comes to answering any questions about a women’s pregnancy, labor and delivery. They provide advice on all aspects of pregnancy. Many women ask questions about exercise, pain management medicine, cord blood banking, and even circumcision.
Before and during pregnancy, women must ensure they get the vitamins and minerals that are necessary in supporting a healthy pregnancy. Those vitamins and minerals include the following:
- Folic Acid
Folic acid, or folate, is one of the most important vitamins found in prenatal supplements, and can be found in foods as well. Folate has been shown to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate, and is typically recommended in doses of 600 micrograms per day during pregnancy. Foods that contain healthy amounts of folate include fortified cereals, spinach, lentils, avocado and more.
Iron is essential for the transportation of oxygen to cells in the body, as well as for healthy cell growth. Insufficient amounts of iron can lead to fatigue, decreased immunity and poor overall health. In addition to the iron found in prenatal supplements, expectant moms can also get it from foods like low mercury fish, chicken and beef, as well as vegetarian options like tofu and soy beans.
This mineral is necessary for a variety of organs and bodily functions. A few include vascular and muscle health, strong bones and teeth, healthy nerve function and a healthy metabolism. It is critical for pregnant women to get proper amounts of calcium, as pregnancy often leads to calcium deficiencies. Foods with lots of calcium include fortified cereals and juices, dairy products and green veggies.
Many women experience cravings during pregnancy. Often, these cravings could be the result of a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Instead of giving in to unhealthy cravings, expectant moms should first make sure they're getting the proper nutrition from healthy foods, as well as taking a daily prenatal supplement.
While it's okay to indulge cravings on occasion, pregnant women should make an effort to find healthy alternatives for unhealthy foods. For example, a cheeseburger craving could signal an iron deficiency, and could likely be calmed with a serving of spinach or black beans.
The following "watermelon split" recipe is ideal for pregnant women, as it calms a sweet tooth while providing essential vitamins and minerals.
- 1 banana, peeled and sliced lengthwise
- 1 medium-sized slice of seedless watermelon
- 1/4 cup green grapes
- 1/4 cup fresh blackberries, blueberries or raspberries
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
- 2 ounces low-fat or soy vanilla yogurt
- 2 fresh mint leaves
- Arrange banana slices on a plate or shallow bowl.
- Cut watermelon into small chunks and place on top of bananas.
- Top with berries and grapes.
- Spoon yogurt over fruit
- Garnish with almonds and mint.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
Remember to follow your midwife or doctor’s advice as they can help a mother decide what is best. This will help ensure a healthy transition between pregnancy and motherhood. This is such an exciting time as a woman prepares to become a mother!
Moore about the author: Katie is an active writer within the Mom-o-sphere of the blogging world. Just after becoming a Mom herself, Katie took to blogging to share her knowledge and passion for motherhood, pregnancy, children, fitness and overall health. She enjoys spending time with family, writing and researching, and connecting with others! If you have any questions or would like to connect with Katie please contact her by visiting her blog "Moore From Katie" or on twitter @moorekm26.
This post is part of Monday Mania, Teach Me Tuesday, Simple Lives Thursday, and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.