Nutrition in Pregnancy

Your nutrition needs change right from the beginning of pregnancy, and it's best to know just how to modify your diet so you can get the vitamins, minerals and essential acids that your baby needs. In fact, the first 10 weeks (known as the embryonic period) make up the most important developmental phase for your growing baby, and this is when important nutrients become critical for a healthy fetus. Not only are you maintaining your own energy levels and body functions, you're creating a new person, and that task deserves some careful attention.

 

A regular diet may be have been sufficient for you before you conceived, but your need for particular nutrients will skyrocket as your baby's body begins to develop. To ensure you are giving your baby the very best while you are pregnant, eat plenty of the following types of food:

  • Dairy products and calcium-rich produce, to ensure you get enough calcium
  • Plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, to cover your vitamin C, A and D needs
  • Beans and legumes to up your daily dose of folic acid
  • Lean meats and nuts for blood-boosting iron and energizing protein

Put High Fiber Foods First

During pregnancy, hormones can slow your intestinal tract and cause constipation. On top of this, your body will need more water each day to function efficiently, and even slight dehydration can cause you more digestive stress. Luckily, eating fiber will help to alleviate this problem, and if you make wise food choices, those high fiber items will bring a range of other nutritional benefits, too.

Raspberries, apples, garden peas, brown rice and leeks are high in fiber. If you are making a pasta dish, substitute the semolina pasta with whole wheat pasta. Substitute white bread for whole wheat, and consider sprinkling bran on your yogurt. While some supplements include fiber, sticking mainly to whole foods (mostly leafy green vegetables and whole grains) should help you get the 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber you need each day, plus a good supply of various vitamins and folic acid.

The Importance of a Well-Rounded Diet

The vital role of fresh fruits and vegetables in a pregnancy diet is undeniable, but there are some nutritional elements that are best taken from other sources. This is why a well-rounded diet is so important, and if you tend to exclude certain foods from your daily menu, it's crucial that you find other ways to get the nutrients they would bring. For instance, if you don't eat meat, you'll be in danger of an iron deficiency, also known as anemia.

Your blood volume has increased with your pregnancy and needs iron to help carry oxygen through your body. Red meat contains iron that is easily absorbed, more so than the iron in dried fruits and beans. However, there are ways to get enough iron without eating meat, and the easiest method is often with a diet full of fresh food combined with a prenatal vitamin that features a high amount of your recommended daily intake. And be sure to eat iron-rich meals with foods containing vitamin C to help with absorption. Spinach, dried fruits, prunes, tuna and red meats are good sources of iron.

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