A healthy pregnancy requires getting the correct amount of nutrients to support your baby for about nine months. The best time to focus on your dietary health is before you become pregnant. Even women who take good care of their health and consume a balanced diet prior to pregnancy may need to make some changes in eating habits to provide adequate nutrients to their babies. According to the Mayo Clinic, good nutrition can promote your baby’s development and encourage growth.
Avoid Birth Defects
Eat foods high in folate to get plenty of this valuable nutrient. This B vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects and developmental abnormalities in your baby’s brain and spinal cord. A deficiency of folate while pregnant can also increase your risks of delivering a preterm baby. Eat plenty of fortified cereals, citrus fruits, beans, peas and leafy green vegetables to reduce your chances of developing a folate deficiency. Talk to you doctor about taking a supplement that contains folate to make sure you are getting enough of this important vitamin.
Give Yourself a Milk Mustache
Your body requires calcium to keep your bones strong and encourage healthy bone development in your baby. Your circulatory, nervous and muscular systems also depend on adequate amounts of calcium to function. Make sure you get at least 1,000mg of calcium each day. Dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese and milk, are great sources of calcium. Nondairy sources include cereal, salmon and spinach. Look for fortified juices that contain added calcium.
Satisfy Your Carnivorous Appetite
Your baby requires protein for healthy growth. This is especially true during your second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Meat contains high levels of protein. Carefully select your cuts of meat to avoid those high in fats and additives. Chicken breasts, fish and eggs all provide protein. If you are a vegetarian, increase your intake of beans, tofu, peas, peanut butter and dairy products while you are pregnant.
Take Popeye’s Advice
Spinach contains plenty of iron, a necessary nutrient during pregnancy. Too little iron can make you feel weak and may contribute to early labor and delivery. Eat plenty of lean red meat, fish, poultry, cereals and dried fruits. Drink juices with vitamin C, such as orange juice and tomato juice, with these foods to help your body absorb the iron.
Don’t Go Hog Wild
Many women make the mistake of thinking they can eat as much as they want during pregnancy. Unfortunately, this can lead to excessive weight gain and months of post-pregnancy dieting. According to Women’s Health, a source of information provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pregnant women only require about 300 extra calories a day during pregnancy. If you maintained a normal weight before conception, expect to gain between 25 and 30 lbs. during your pregnancy. Read the labels on your food items, and invest in a nutrition book that lists the calorie, fat and nutrient levels of your favorite foods.
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