As you are entering pregnancy, you are going to notice a lot of changes and one of which should be your diet. What you choose to eat has an effect on not only your body but the health of your baby as well. Your baby gets their source of nourishment based off of what you put into your body, so we advise choosing your foods with awareness. During the time of pregnancy, your body will need more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than before because you are now providing for two people. It’s important to be aware that a poor diet may cause birth complications making it harder on yourself. More than ever when you are pregnant you will want to focus on your intake of protein, iron, calcium and folic acid. These are some of the key nutrients for your diet during pregnancy.
The best diet for pregnancy consists of vitamins, healthy foods and staying hydrated. We are going to walk you through the most important nutrients and foods you should be eating during your pregnancy to make it as easy as possible for you. Below you’ll see a pregnancy diet menu under each topic. We suggest for pregnant women to get the most you can from each source daily. Your post-pregnancy diet and pre-pregnancy diet will be very similar to your pregnancy diet as well. Focus on these pregnancy food’s and you should be on your way to a healthy pregnancy. You don’t need to focus so much on what not to eat while pregnant, but rather what you should eat while you’re pregnant. There are a few pregnancy diet restrictions that you should be aware of as well.
Most people don’t get enough protein in their regular diet aside from pregnancy which means when you’re pregnant you’ll need even more protein than usual. Eating enough protein to feed both you and your baby helps build a healthy organ system for your child including the brain and the heart. Protein is there to help build and repair tissue in your body which is a key factor in developing healthy skin, bones, and blood flow. This also aids in healthy breast tissue which is essential for breastfeeding. Most times pregnant women don’t get enough protein which leaves the baby to be born a bit underweight. You should aim to eat about 75 to 100 grams of protein daily. This equals to about 4 servings a day which means you should be adding protein within every meal throughout your day.
Best food sources with high levels of protein:
Iron deficiency is very common in most people, especially pregnant women. Pregnant women need double the amount of your average dose of iron which is equivalent to 27 milligrams. By increasing your iron intake you are providing healthy blood flow and oxygen for your baby. As you may know, pregnancy causes fatigue and lacking iron can lead to increased tiredness. This can also be called iron deficiency anemia which may affect both you and your baby. Most doctors are sure to check your iron levels during your check-ups, but to be sure you’re getting enough iron during pregnancy you should look into taking an iron supplement. Depending on your preferences, below are foods that are high in iron. If you are looking to get pregnant, then this should be an important part of your pre-pregnancy diet as well.
Best food sources with high levels of iron:
- Chicken breast
- Red Meat
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Dark chocolate
When we’re young we’re told to drink our milk to get our calcium, well this circles back around when you become pregnant as well. Calcium is an important mineral in building your baby’s bones and teeth which is why this is a huge part of your pregnancy diet plan. As a mom when you are not getting enough calcium to provide for your baby, your body will find a way to take away from your calcium intake and give it to your baby which then leaves you deficient in calcium. It is just as important to get the proper calcium intake when you are pregnant as it is when your baby is born. When you have finished breastfeeding you should monitor your calcium intake to help strengthen your bones and prevent bone loss. Any healthy pregnancy diet will consist of the proper amounts of calcium. If you are 18 and older, you should aim for 1,000 mg of calcium and if you are 18 and under, you should aim for 1,300 mg calcium daily during your pregnancy.
Best food sources with high levels of calcium:
- Sunflower seeds
- Collard greens
Folic acid is often forgotten about, yet so important to a pregnant woman’s diet. This is one of many vitamins that carries many benefits. Folic acid is what helps produce DNA and create new cells within your body. This is one of those minerals that is required and necessary for the proper development of your baby. Folic acid just like the others should actually be taken before and during pregnancy as it is an essential mineral for life. Taking folic acid helps prevent the chances of any neural tube defects. Pregnant women should take about 600 mcg’s daily of folic acid. If you are already taking a prenatal vitamin there should be about 600 mcg’s included. It is suggested that the moment you are planning to become pregnant to begin taking folic acid to avoid any complications. Although you can get folic acid from foods, it can be difficult to track the amount that you are actually receiving, so we still suggest taking a mineral on the side.
Best food sources with high levels of folic acid:
- Orange juice
- Some cereals (fortified-cereals)
Although we mention a lot about food and vitamins, most pregnant women forget how important hydration is not only for your pregnancy but for your skin health as well. Your body needs more fluids than usual to produce proper blood flow, tissue growth and be able to properly store your nutrients. You should be aiming for 8 glasses of water a day. In addition to that, water is not the only way a pregnant woman can stay hydrated. As long as you are sure to get as many fluids as you can into your day as possible there are many other options rather than water.
Best ways to stay hydrated:
- Sparkling water
- Decaf tea
Why is your pregnancy diet so important?
Pregnant women should be watching not only their vitamin intake but their overall diet as well. As long as you are being sure to get the daily dosage of the minerals above, then you should be following a healthy pregnancy diet plan. The good part is, your diet should be just like any other healthy diet plan. Be sure that you are including vegetables, protein, healthy carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fruits. You should focus primarily on your fruits and veggies and the other part with protein and grains. Adding in some source of dairy products during each meal is vital. If you are lactose or prefer to stay away from dairy products, we suggest consulting with your doctor for a healthy vegan pregnancy diet.
Following a healthy diet plan will almost always consist of the same food groups throughout although during your second and third trimester you’ll want to eat a bit more fruits and veggies to assure you are getting enough minerals and vitamins. The best diet for pregnancy will consist of some or better yet, all, of the foods and minerals we mentioned. You need to pay close attention to your diet during pregnancy as you should be sure you’re getting the proper amount of necessary food, minerals, and fluids. You can create your own pregnancy diet menu that suits your lifestyle, but aim to at least include protein, iron, calcium and folic acid. Following your pregnancy, include the same items in your post-pregnancy diet as well.