It may be a cliche but when you’re pregnant, you really are eating for two. What you eat and how much of it you eat can have a big impact on the tiny life that’s growing inside you.
It’s very important for you to gain weight throughout the time you are pregnant. Your doctor will likely recommend a range for weight gain diet during your pregnancy, depending on your height and weight. The most advisable course is to put on weight gradually during your first trimester, then more rapidly during your second and third trimesters. How you gain weight is almost as important as how much weight you gain, however. Being pregnant is not a license to gorge on junk food.
During the first few weeks of pregnancy, most of your baby’s vital organs are formed. This means getting healthy and getting healthy now is imperative to the health of your unborn child. If you already follow a pretty healthy diet, you’ve got a jump on giving your baby what he or she needs to grow and prosper. If your dietary habits haven’t changed much from the pizza and Ramen days of your youth, it’s time to make a few changes and make them now.
When you’re pregnant, you’re going to need to eat more and eat better. You’ll need to increase your intake of important vitamins and nutrients such as calcium, iron, and folic acid among others. You’ll also need to avoid certain foods like smoked seafood, shellfish, soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk.
A good starting point is by trying to eat more than the recommended serving size in each category of the food pyramid. This ensures that you’re still eating a balanced diet while you’re consuming more food. For example, during pregnancy, your daily diet will probably need to include at least 9 servings of cereal, bread or rice, four servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, three servings of milk, yogurt or cheese and three servings of meat. WebMD has a great resource database for pregnancy diet tips at eting-right-when-pregnant.
In addition to all the extra eating you would also want to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you and your baby need in your diet. The best place to get all these nutrients is from the food you eat. Three key nutrients as mentioned before are folic acid, iron and calcium.
- Folic acid is important because it decreases the risk of neural tube defects that can cause spina bifida and anenephaly. Good foods to add to your diet to supply folic acid include bananas, citrus fruits, fortified breakfas cereals, cantaloupes and tomatoes.
- Iron is an important mineral because it helps form tissue for your baby and it helps you fight off fatigue and infection. Good dietary sources of iron include fish, lean red meat, tofu, nuts, dried fruits and poultry.
- Calcium helps form bones and teeth. When you’re pregnant, you’ll need to eat about 40 percent more calcium than you would otherwise. Good dietary sources of calcium include cheese, milk, salmon, broccoli, oranges and spinach.
While you should get most of the minerals and nutrients from your diet, some vitamin supplements will also be necessary. Your doctor will likely get you on a prenatal vitamin supplement to ensure that you’re getting all you need.
Vitamin supplements are especially important for women who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. It is possible to follow these diets during pregnancy but it’s more important to carefully review your food intake to ensure you’re getting what you need and to fill any gaps with supplements. If you’re a vegetarian with a menu which includes fish, milk and eggs in your diet, it will be fairly easy for you to get all the nutrients you and your baby need. If you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, you’ll need to get supplements for vitamin b-12, folic acid, zinc, calcium and iron.
Knowing what foods and cooking methods to avoid is also key to the health of you and your baby. Changes in your body during pregnancy make you more susceptible to bacterial food poisioning and other gastrointestinal ailments. When shopping you’ll want to pick up cold stuff and perishable items last to reduce the amount of time they’re not refrigerated. Get them in the cooler as soon as you get home. Cleanliness should be your watchword and you should keep all food preparation areas extra clean and frequently wash your hands. Wash all fruits and vegetables carefully and cook all meats thoroughly before eating them.
Taking care to adopt a proper diet is the first step in your lifelong work of nurturing and guiding your child. While giving up some unhealthy eating habits and adopting some healthy ones may seem like a great effort at first, in the long run it will be good for your child and if you keep up the new good habits after pregnancy, it may greatly improve your health as well.