Eating a healthy diet is extremely important during pregnancy. The food that mom eats directly affects the health and development of the baby. Health blogger Katie Moore has researched the topic and found some of the best things mom can eat as well as some things that should be avoided:
Important Dietary Considerations During Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant have increased nutritional requirements to help foster a healthy environment for her baby to grow in. A mother should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals. In addition to consuming meat, extra protein demands can be met by combining beans with grains, such as rice or corn, to make complete proteins. Extra folate or folic acid and iron should be incorporated into the diet, along with extra sources of calcium for good bone health. As well as increasing caloric intake with nutritious foods, certain foods should be eliminated from the diet during pregnancy.
Before making too many changes, a mother should speak to her doctor about her current eating habits and go through the routine tests of checking for any health issues that could affect her pregnancy. A doctor is always the best resource for information regarding health questions and concerns for any aspect of pregnancy. Just as a mother-to-be will ask her doctor about delivery options, like pain medication and umbilical cord blood banking, a mother should begin asking her doctor for advice earlier in her term about her health and choices.
Folate, Iron and Calcium
Folate is an essential B vitamin important for neural tube fetal health. Synthetic forms of folate, called folic acid, are often found in fortified breads and cereals, in addition to prenatal vitamins. Excellent plant-based sources of folate include lentils, oranges, garbanzo beans and asparagus. Cabbage, wheat germ, cauliflower and spinach also provide significant amounts of folate.
During pregnancy, a woman’s stored iron and additional iron intake is shared with the developing fetus. Lean red meats provide an excellent source of iron, while liver should be avoided because of its exceptionally high content of vitamin A, which in excessive amounts may cause birth defects. Vitamin C should be consumed with iron to facilitate the absorption of iron.
Additional calcium intake, along with vitamin D, is important for healthy bone and teeth development in the fetus and to ensure preserved bone mass for the mother. Calcium-fortified orange juice and milk with added vitamin D provide good sources of calcium. Additional sources of calcium include dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Spinach, kale and other green leafy vegetables are also excellent sources for calcium.
Mix fresh baby spinach leaves, small chunks of Monterrey Jack cheese, walnuts and tomato wedges– topped with your favorite dressing—for a salad rich in folate, iron and calcium. In addition to calcium, the walnuts also provide essential fatty acids, while the tomatoes add vitamin C and other beneficial antioxidants.
Foods to Avoid
Certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy. Raw or undercooked seafood should be completely eliminated from the diet according to recommendations. However, properly cooked fish adds omega 3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients necessary for the mother’s health maintenance and healthy fetal brain development. Most cooked fish should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Fish should flake easily with a fork and have an opaque appearance.
Other raw or undercooked foods to avoid include meat, poultry and eggs. Foods such as eggnog and Caesar salad dressing prepared with raw eggs should be eliminated from the diet to avoid potential contact with salmonella. Additionally, unpasteurized foods, such as certain types of low-fat dairy products, should not be consumed by pregnant or lactating women.
With all of these nutritional choices to make, a mother should have no problem finding meals to eat that she likes and satisfies her nutritional needs. The extra thought and preparation may seem difficult at first, but when a mother finally gives birth to a healthy baby, she will know that the extra work was worth it.
“Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.”