Every expectant mother has an idea of what to expect during pregnancy: quit smoking, exercise, eat healthy, and the list goes on. Many mothers miss out giving their unborn baby the best possible mix of nutrients because they simply don’t know. Every expectant mother should provide the best possible nutrients to their baby with every meal they eat. A good balanced diet, high in nutrients will include vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
Vitamins and minerals are naturally occurring chemicals that help the body to perform certain bodily functions. Vitamins such as iron, Vitamin C, and Calcium should be taken as supplements if your diet does not contain enough of these nutrients. Iron produces the hemoglobin that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues, and therefore, your baby. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron found in food. If you are taking Vitamin C and Iron at the same time, take one in the morning and one in the evening because Vitamin C has been known to block the iron’s absorption. Folic Acid is also important to take because it helps produce the extra blood you need during pregnancy.
Most pregnant women should be taking 71 grams of protein each day because it provides the nutrients that allow your body to grow. It also helps to build your baby’s cells. Foods high in protein include eggs, low-fat milk, beans, fish, pork, beef, and chicken. Plants like legumes and grains also contain high sources of protein.
Fats, as always, should be eaten in moderation. Too much isn’t good for you, but the body does need a little bit of fat in order to properly function. Fat aids your body in using Vitamin E, D, A, K, and carbs and proteins as well. Expectant mothers should also be aware that there are different types of fat: saturated fat (come from meat and dairy products), trans fat (type of saturated fat), and unsaturated fat (come from plants and vegetables). Too much saturated fat and trans fat may lead to high cholesterol, so be careful. Here are some precautions you can take: cut down on your butter intake (including margarine, mayo, cream, and oil), remove the fat from all of your meat, avoid frying or sautéing your food (instead poach, broil, steam, or bake your food).
Carbohydrates are food sugars. The body’s main source of energy comes from carbs. There are two types of carbs: simple sugars and starches. Pregnant women should try to limit the amount of simple sugars they intake because simple sugars provide just a short burst of energy. They’re found in fruit juices, honey, table sugar, syrup, hard candies and processed foods. Instead, try to stick to starches because they contain fiber, which helps to flush out the digestive system, as well as prevent constipation. Fiber also helps your body to remove excess cholesterol and fat. Try to stick to fruits like apples and oranges, vegetables like peas and dried beans, and whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread. Balance your diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole-grains.
During pregnancy, things can seem a bit hectic and it may be hard to follow a strict, nutritious diet. But with a few simple tools and a little patience, you can be on your way to a healthy, nutrient-filled pregnancy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a tool called the MyPyramid Plan, in which expectant mothers can plan their meals and snacks around their expected nutrition intake.