Your guide to pregnancy nutrition: 7 tips for a healthy baby and healthy you!
Pregnancy is indeed a challenging time. The female body is incredible and goes through drastic changes to support the growth of another human inside the womb. Hormonal changes take place to fulfill the baby’s nutritional needs and aid physical growth.
The usual diet we consume is not enough to fulfill all these requirements. There are a few important changes that need to be made accordingly.
Skipping meals and consuming excessive amounts of sugar, fats, or caffeine during a regular course of time is usually harmless. However, during pregnancy, any negligence on diet can cause discomfort to both you and the baby.
Gaining some weight during pregnancy is normal. However, it is a common misconception that being overweight even after birth is a normal part of pregnancy. While it’s somewhat true, it is also important to know that you can efficiently manage your weight if you’re able to maintain hormonal balance. An adequate calorie requirement is very essential during pregnancy so that you don’t feel weak and maintain adequate energy without gaining a significantly large amount of weight.
While gaining weight is at the end of the list of worries during pregnancy, it is very important to know that certain nutrients become highly significant during this time. It is crucial for the growth of the baby and balancing the hormones that you consume foods that are nutrient-dense and fresh.
During pregnancy, women are often pampered with a lot of sugar and fried stuff that they usually crave. Do you know that cravings are a result of some sort of imbalance of pregnancy hormones in your body? It is quite normal to experience cravings but there are some ways in which you can fulfill these cravings without using unhealthy ingredients which lack nutrients.
Do not worry! It is not a very complicated set of rules which you have to follow. Guidelines for nutrition during pregnancy are pretty easy to follow, with minor changes. Just remember that whatever you eat should preferably be made at home with fresh ingredients to avoid adulteration in your food.
There is an increased need for nutrients because you are feeding another human being inside your body. It is a common saying that you have to eat for two. This is partially correct in terms of the nutrients you require, but it does not necessarily mean that you have to eat food in double quantities. Certain micronutrients like vitamins and minerals and macronutrients which provide you with energy, protein, and fat should be essentially consumed in adequate amounts. Here are the best 10 tips you should follow if you are an expecting mother.
- Consume enough protein. Protein is a crucial macronutrient that ensures the proper growth of the baby’s body and organs. Consuming enough protein also ensures that your uterine and breast issue develops at a healthy pace. Protein consumption needs to increase with every trimester. Some foods you can consume are chicken breast, eggs, and fish. Some women also develop an aversion to meat. Some vegetarian options can be cottage cheese, almonds, peanut butter, cashews, beans, tofu, etc.
- Increase your calcium intake. Calcium helps in building the baby’s bones and regulates fluid balance in the body. Usually, doctors suggest calcium supplements during this time. However, you can also increase your intake of certain foods which are rich in calcium. Milk products like yogurt, cheese, milk, and cottage cheese are good sources of calcium. Green vegetables like spinach and kale are also some healthy options for a salad or smoothie.
- Consume more foods rich in folic acid. Folic acid plays an important role in reducing the chances of neural tube defects in newborn babies. They are also known to reduce the chances of birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. Some foods rich in folate are eggs, peanut butter, dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, nuts, and lentils.
- Include more iron-rich foods in your diet. Iron plays a major role in supplying oxygen to both you and the baby. To ensure that iron is properly absorbed in your body, consume more vitamin C-rich foods like oranges and gooseberries too. Some good sources of iron are eggs, green vegetables, apples, etc.
- Swap your pregnancy junk food cravings with healthier options. It is best not to consume too much sugar or oily foods during pregnancy. You can always swap your food cravings with healthier alternatives like baked sweet potato fries instead of traditional french fries. Swap your white bread with wholewheat bread, and traditional ice creams with homemade ones made with natural sweeteners like dates and fruits.
- Beat morning sickness with some ginger water or dry salted crackers. Make a habit of consuming ginger-infused water in the morning and eating a few salted biscuits before getting up from bed. These foods prevent nausea and make you feel better.
- Prevent mood swings by getting yourself adequate sleep and rest. Some foods like chocolates help in secreting serotonin which is a happiness hormone. Exercising every day to maintain moderate weight, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep also help stabilize mood and make you feel content. Limiting caffeine to two cups a day also helps with reducing anxiety and stress.
Pregnancy is a time full of surprises and discoveries. It is an incredible process of nurturing another little human in you. This time should be cherished and made comfortable for the mother by all means. Taking good care of yourself not only ensures the healthy growth and development of the baby but also makes it easier for the mother’s body to heal later.
Diet plays a major role in the healthy development of the baby. Sometimes, it is best to take the opinion of a nutritionist or dietician to be sure of the dietary habits you are following. In case of health complications or deficiencies with you or the baby, a nutritionist can correctly guide you towards a healthy pregnancy and birth. Nutritional requirements change with every trimester, and even after birth. A health professional’s opinion is best to consider while planning your meals to avoid any negligence and ensure a smooth and healthy pregnancy.
Read more about the Recommended Dietary Allowance here.
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