Calcium, iron, folic acid, omega-3 and protein are among the most important nutrients to include in your diet when you are expecting. A good diet for pregnancy should provide your unborn baby with each of these nutrients so he can grow healthy and happy in the womb.
Omega-3 and Folic Acid for a Pregnancy Diet
Omega-3 is important for you unborn baby’s brain, eyes and nervous system to develop. Infants who are exposed to proper amounts of this nutrient in utero have greater visual acuity and longer attention spans than kids who were not exposed to omega-3 before birth.
Omega-3 has been shown to prevent developmental delays and behavior problems in kids. Also, pregnant mothers who get enough omega-3 reduce their risk of preterm labor and postpartum depression.
Fish is an excellent way to get the omega-3 you need for a healthy pregnancy. When you add fish to your diet, remember that some types contain high levels of mercury. Ingesting too much of this element during pregnancy can cause nerve damage in your unborn baby.
There are tons of fish that are safe to eat when you’re expecting, some of them include:
• wild salmon
• ocean perch
• spiny lobster
Adding folic acid to your diet prior to pregnancy helps reduce the risk of having a baby born with spina bifida. This condition causes the spine not to close completely before birth. Spina bifida can cause paralysis, incontinence and mental retardation.
Women should get 400 micrograms of folic acid before they get pregnant. During pregnancy, the amount of folic acid should increase to 600 micrograms. Foods that contain folic acid include green leafy vegetables and citrus fruit.
Calcium and Iron for a Pregnancy Diet
Calcium is important for the formation of healthy bones and also for the nerves and cells to function properly. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your baby will leech what she needs from your bones and leave them weak.
Diary is not a healthy source of calcium as it is full of chemicals that can cross the placenta and harm your fetus. Getting your calcium from vegetable sources is a better option. When you get your calcium from plant-based sources, it is absorbed more efficiently by the body than calcium from dairy. Vegetables that contain calcium include:
• bok choy
• collard and turnip greens
Iron helps form red blood cells and transport oxygen through the body. If you don’t get enough of this nutrient in your diet, your baby will deplete your reserves and cause you to be iron deficient. Iron deficiency is common in pregnant women because of their increased blood volume.
Your doctor will check your iron levels two or more times during pregnancy to see if your iron levels are sufficient. If you don’t have enough iron in your blood, your physician may suggest iron supplements to help meet your nutritional needs. Foods that are rich in iron include lean meats, beans and poultry.
Protein in a Diet for Pregnancy
Protein helps with the development of your baby’s organs, muscles, fingers, toes, hair and nails. During the second trimester, your baby is growing the most, so it’s important to include a source of protein in every meal. Sources of protein include poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts and beans.
Your body is the only source of nutritional support your unborn baby has. A good diet for pregnancy should contain the folic acid, iron, protein, calcium and omega-3 your fetus needs to develop properly.