Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it is also easy to get overwhelmed and forget about the basic things you need to do to keep you and the child healthy. An important part of having a healthy pregnancy is sticking to a healthy diet, both for mom and for the baby. As new mom’s make their dietary choices, they should keep in mind that they are now providing nutrients for two people and will need to eat extra of certain foods, such as iron and calcium. While this is not a complete list of an expecting mother’s dietary needs, let’s look closely at five types of foods that are important to a healthy pregnancy.
Calcium is a crucial nutrient to pay attention to during a pregnancy, because the growing fetus will need plenty of this element for its growing bones. If a pregnant woman fails to consume the recommended amount of calcium to meet her child’s needs, the child will be forced to draw from the woman’s calcium stores instead. This leaves the mother at risk for bone loss. Calcium is also crucial for the development of a healthy heart and nerves. As such, pregnant women should strive to consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Some good calcium sources include skim milk, dark leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, hard cheeses and yogurt.
Iron helps the body to form hemoglobin, which is what carries oxygen throughout your body. Iron can also improve a body’s resistance to disease or other stressors. A woman must consume more iron than she normally would while she is pregnant, in order to make sure both she and the baby receive enough oxygen. Iron has also been found to fight drowsiness and depression. It’s recommended to get 30 milligrams of iron a day through at least three-servings of iron-rich foods. Foods to incorporate include lean red meat, whole-grain bread, dried fruits and green vegetables.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for the body to form collagen, a protein that helps to form cartilage, bones and skin. Vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron, and it’s been found in some studies that a deficiency of the vitamin can cause problems with mental development. It’s recommended that pregnant women get 85 milligrams of Vitamin C a day. Some good sources of this vitamin include citrus fruits, orange or grapefruit juice, tomatoes, strawberries and sweet potatoes.
4. Folic Acid
Taking folic acid before getting pregnant and during the first few weeks of pregnancy is crucial to your baby’s health. Lack of folic acid is linked to brain and spinal birth defects as well as a cleft lip or palate. Most women take folic acid via a prenatal supplement, but there are foods to get the nutrient from as well. Leafy greens, lentils and peanuts all contain folic acids. Many grains are also now enriched with folic acid.
5. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are good for you heart and help you to metabolize all of those important vitamins and minerals. Although these fats are important, they should also be limited as they have a lot of calories. Some good sources of fat include almonds, avocados, lean meats, certain seafoods (some should be avoided when pregnant), and peanut butter.
Certain medical conditions may require different amounts of nutrients or careful monitoring of a mother’s diet, so be sure to consult an OB-GYN for specific dietary recommendations. ZocDoc is a good resource for finding local OB-GYNs. Always consult your doctor before taking a supplement or other kind of medication when you are pregnant.