Pregnancy is one of the few things that brings the utmost joy to the women and their family members. They are treated with precaution and care in every step, just like a new born. While it is one of the most exciting things, questions, or doubts may arise, especially concerning the health of the child you are expecting, as well as your own.
A significant query most expectant mothers have is what to eat for nine months. Because pregnant women must eat highly nutritious foods that keep her in a healthy condition, plus, it is also responsible for regulating the health of the fetus. Even after childbirth, nursing the baby requires proper nutrition.
Here are the dos and don’ts of a diet that one should follow during pregnancy:
Pregnancy Diet: What to Eat
1. Grain and Cereals
Wholegrain goods are excellent at the time of pregnancy, as they score on fiber. Bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal, and wheat are some of the best sources. Besides being an excellent source of fiber, such foods are loaded with minerals and fortified with iron.
Pregnant women need high fiber content to avert constipation, which can trigger hemorrhoids in the third trimester and post-delivery. The need of the hour is fiber-rich food. Mineral content, further, helps in the overall development of the fetus and replenishes minerals in the body of the mother as well.
2. Dairy Products
Dairy products contain healthy amounts of calcium. So stock up on milk, cottage cheese, curd, buttermilk, and yogurt for a healthy pregnancy. These foods are also rich in probiotic content and also rich in vitamin D, and vitamin B12(1).
Milk also improves appetite and digestion in women who are pregnant. If there are issues with milk-based products, consider how you can replace dairy products for adequate calcium intake. Calcium is needed during pregnancy, as it helps in the bone and teeth development of children. Consume 2-3 glasses of milk per day for the best outcomes.
3. Vegetables and Fruits
Pregnant ladies need to include at least six servings of veggies and fruits per day. Plan meals accordingly. Veggies and fruits are rich in vitamins, fibers, and minerals. They are a good source of vitamin C, which helps you and your child.
Vitamin C strengthens the tissues and gums, healing wounds fast and absorbing iron. Load up on berries, apples, melons, oranges, strawberry, leafy green veggies, cabbage, and broccoli. Keep a plate of greens and salads ready with every meal.
Eating the right amount of veggies and fruits to ensure your child gets enough micronutrients. For example, green vegetables like kale, spinach, Swiss chard are sources of minerals, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K.
The chief minerals vital for pregnancy are as follows:
- Calcium with a recommended daily allowance of 1000 mg – present in milk products, greens, nuts, and legumes.
- Zinc of around RDA of 15 mg: Eggs, tomatoes, lean meats, whole grains, and broccoli.
- Iron has an RDA of 30 mg: Greens, meats, whole grains, legumes, dried fruits, and tofu.
- Iodine is another fantastic mineral that has an RDA of 175 mcg. It can be found in iodized salt, cheese, and seafood.
- Selenium is another popular mineral, 65 mcg of which is required every day. This nutrient can be found in grains and seafood.
- The phosphorus of around RDA 700 mg can be found in meat, eggs, and fish.
- Magnesium requirement is around 360 mg, and it includes tofu, beans, broccoli, and cashew. Fluoride has an RDA of 3.1 mg and is found in fluoridated water, tea, and seafood.
Have enough protein in a day. Include lean meat (except liver) eggs, beans, fish, and sprouts. Have fish 2-3 times per week. Include sardines, tuna, and other sea-fish in the diet. These fish are rich in Omega 3- fatty acids, which is considered a healthy fat.
Omega 3-fatty acids are needed for the eye and brain development of the child. These fats are responsible for the faster brain development of your child. This nutrient also prevents allergies and asthma at later stages.
Another strict rule to follow is to cook meat, fish, and eggs before eating. Semi or uncooked non-vegetarian foods can cause food poisoning due to bacteria and even poison the bloodstream.
If one avoids fatty treats all through lives, it is essential to start now. The body wants essential fatty acids to maintain increased metabolic rates during pregnancy. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are incredibly vital for healthy fetal brain development.
DHA or docosahexaenoic acid found in Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for the cognitive development of your child. Essential fats include cod liver oil, fish oil, fish, wheat germ oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil.
7. Pulses and Beans
When it comes to healthy diets, beans and legumes are critical. They are rich in fibers and proteins(2), besides containing nutrients like iron, calcium, zinc, and folate. Adding beans and sprouts to pasta, noodles, soups, and salads is a great idea. Kidney or soya beans and other pulses are excellent for your child’s health.
8. Seeds and Nuts
Nuts and seeds are rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, they must be part of your diet. Try walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and cashews. Nuts are also an excellent source of vitamin E and Vitamin Bs. They are stuffed with unique minerals like zinc, magnesium, and iron, which is excellent for the growing fetus. Nuts are good for health but avoid oil-friend ones. These contain bad calories and excessive sodium.
When it comes to seeds, consider sesame, flaxseed, pumpkin, and sunflower. These seeds are rich in vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Flaxseed, for example, is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. One can have them whole or grind them into a fine powder and mix this with milk.
Superfoods like berries and salmon offer incredible health benefits. Berries, for example, are rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and folate. Try blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Salmon is an excellent source for omega-three fatty acids and proteins. These nutrients help in developing a baby’s brain and eyes.
10. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, iron, copper, potassium, vitamin C and B6, and beta carotene. Eating sweet potatoes can meet your iron requirement. Get your taste buds going by eating deep-fried, baked, or mashed sweet potatoes.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
1. Avoid These Fruits
In general, fruits and vegetables are healthy. However, some of them might cause some complications during pregnancy, and it is advised to avoid them. Papaya tops the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. Raw or semi-ripe papayas are rich in latex, causing uterine contractions and early labor.
On the other hand, ripe papayas are not an issue. Avoid ripe or raw pineapples, as they are rich in bromelain, which may soften the cervix for early labor. Grapes should also be avoided in the last trimester as it can trigger increased bodily heat.
2. Don’t Drink Coffee
Coffee or caffeinated drinks prevent the healthy development of babies, leading to retardation of growth and increased possibility of miscarriage. Caffeine further slows down the absorption of solid iron, which causes anemia. The aim is to avoid coffee, tea, soda, or aerated drinks.
3. Avoid Unwashed Fruits
Bacteria such as toxoplasma gondii parasite or the listeria bacteria are often concealed in fruits and vegetables. Hence, it is highly advised to avoid unwashed vegetables and fruits. The food must be thoroughly washed before being eaten.
In countries where pesticides are deployed, peeling off fruits before consumption is essential. Raw vegetables should also be avoided if not removed, especially salad dressings and fresh sprouts, as these may contain viruses and harmful bacteria.
4. Don’t Eat Raw Seafood or Meats
Raw, uncooked fish like sushi is a bad idea for pregnant women. This lineup also includes marlin, shark, swordfish, and shellfish—all of these damages the brain of the fetus due to the presence of methyl mercury. Starting fish oils can also be risky. Don’t have uncooked seafood as it contains harmful bacteria and can cause infections.
Undercooked and raw meats should also be avoided during pregnancy because they could contain toxoplasma cysts. All meats should be thoroughly cooked and washed. Also, avoid pre-stuffed poultry, ready-to-eat meat products, and meat spreads as they are rich in harmful bacteria. The liver should be given a wide berth, for it contains vitamin A and can damage the fetus.
5. Abstain from Alcohol
Drinking alcohol when pregnant can poison your baby. The amount of alcohol that reaches through the placenta to the baby’s blood can trigger chronic health issues.
6. Give Processed and Unpasteurized Foods a Miss
Remember, you do not know whether they are washing the meat or veggies inside the restaurant kitchen. Pasteurization is the process through which fluids like juices and foods can kill bacteria and germs. Some beverage and fruit juice brands may give this a miss.
Always read the label before purchasing as the liquid spreads contaminants to the baby. Additionally, non-pasteurized milk or cheese can harm the fetus and cause food poisoning. Soft cheese, including feta and other Mexican style cheeses, may also contain bacteria.
7. Don’t Opt for Canned Foods
Avoid canned foods during pregnancy, as the water content contains harmful bacteria. The lining in cans also contains BPA, which harms the endocrine activity and destroys the fetus.
8. Watch Out for Certain Herbs
The effect of herbal supplements on your pregnancy is questioned. So, do avoid herbal teas and supplements, as there could be side effects you are not aware of. Specific herbs can create muscle contractions and preterm labor. Avoid herbs like senna and saw palmetto.
Tips for A Healthy Pregnancy
Besides avoiding certain foods and eating nutritious meals, it is essential to prevent smoking.
Every cigarette smoked is harmful to your child. Besides alcohol, nicotine in tobacco also slows birth development and leads to premature or low weight babies. Avoid too much fat or uncooked, raw items from outside. These can be unhealthy for you as a mother.
Don’t eat out if you can help it. It is also essential to avoid canned foods. Mostly, the healthy pregnancy you envisage can be a reality, if you watch what you eat. Thus, eating right can be the way to a healthy, happy pregnancy and natural childbirth. Remember that you’re eating for two.
So, avoid products from outside, while eating plenty of nutritional meals that offer a lot of benefits for you and your baby.
1. Can I exercise during pregnancy?
Yes, during the first trimester of pregnancy, you can exercise. But, in general, walking or aerobic exercises are recommended. However, you should also consult your doctor to help you fix a proper exercise routine.
2. Can I eat chocolates during pregnancy?
Yes, upon the doctor’s recommendation, you may consume chocolates in moderation.