Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful and surreal experiences a woman can have. Not to sound too old fashioned, but it’s a period of self-discovery, newfound love and realizing you love someone you haven’t even met yet. At the same time, it is daunting thinking about labor and the complications that may come with it. But at the end of every pregnancy, all a woman wishes for is that her baby is healthy.
These gestation months are incredibly important for both the mother and her baby. What you do during these months determines the health of your child as well as your well-being. While factors like age, genetics and family history cannot be changed, there are many important factors such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle that are under your control and that should be monitored closely to give you and your baby the quality of life you need.
Moderate physical exercise every day, a relaxing environment to keep stress at bay, and the right diet are essential to keep you on track. Emotional burden and overworking yourself can harm your baby so make sure you keep stress as well as stress triggers at quite a distance.
Nutrition perhaps is the most crucial factor that determines the health of your baby. So here, we will be focusing entirely on the kinds of things ‘moms to be’ should eat, and what exactly they should remove from their plates.
What You Should Eat
- Dairy products are rich sources of protein, vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium that are vital ingredients for healthy growth of the fetus. Greek yogurt has the highest amount of calcium. Other essential nutrients like magnesium may also be found. Aim to get at least 1000 mg of calcium during pregnancy.
- Eggs are a superfood. They contain a little bit of everything. Perhaps their most important and unique substance is choline which is required for growth and development of neural tubes as well as the fetus’s neurological functions. One egg has around 113 mg of choline.
- Fresh and preferably organic fruits and vegetables are easiest ways to get the best antioxidants, vitamins, and What’s even better is that they fill up your stomach and keep you satiated, while not adding too many calories to your plate.
- Folic acid is another essential component that needs to be added to your diet. Your GP can recommend supplements if your food doesn’t have enough folic acid sources. Just like choline, it plays a vital role in preventing neural tube defects.
- Iron intake is crucial during pregnancy. Take it via supplements or find it in dark, leafy vegetables and lean meat. The latter has the added advantage of providing fiber, protein, as well as a number of other nutrients.
- Fish oil is packed with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are essential for fetal brain and eye development. It is also a good source of vitamin D, which may prevent preeclampsia. The use of Cod liver has also been found to increase birth weight.
- Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is needed for cellular growth and turnover.
- Legumes are excellent sources of folate, and B-vitamins, which many women don’t get enough of. They also contain phosphorous, magnesium and potassium that are essential
- Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach and broccoli contain many nutrients such as fiber, Vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, iron, calcium, folate, and They are also loaded with antioxidants. Adding these veggies to your diet is also very beneficial for your immune and digestive system. You can add 3 to 4 servings of leafy greens to your diet to prevent constipation – a common concern amongst pregnant women.
What You Should Avoid
There are many infections that a developing fetus can acquire through food. Let’s take a look at them.
- Toxoplasmosis is a severe complication caused by eating foods infected with the bacteria Toxoplasma. This bacterial infection can cause blindness and mental disorders later in the baby’s life. To prevent any such occurrence, avoid raw, undercooked meats and poultry including raw fish, and raw
- Listeria is another bacteria associated with preterm births, miscarriages, stillbirths. Unpasteurized (raw) milk and their products, such as feta, Brie, Camembert might contain this bacteria. So it is vital to get pasteurized products.
- Alcohol is a complete no-no during pregnancy. Drinking during the first three months is associated premature birth, low birth weight and a higher risk of miscarriage. It is better to avoid it at all costs since the quantity of alcohol which can cause harm is not yet fully understood.
- Smoking should also be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including many dangerous substances like lead, cyanide, and at least 60 cancer-causing compounds. When you smoke during pregnancy, the very same toxins enter into your bloodstream, which is the only way your baby gets nutrients and oxygen. Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy have an increased risk of asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A baby whose mother has ‘smoked’ during her first trimester is more likely to develop heart defects. Stillbirths and preterm births can be linked to the fact that the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke zaps the ability of blood to retain oxygen.
- It is always safer to avoid hot dogs, sausages, and bacon as they contain a significant amount of nitrates which has also been linked to brain tumors. Again, research is inconclusive here, but it is always to keep these foods to a minimum.
It is better to avoid uncooked, raw foods or foods from places that could potentially cause food poisoning. It is always best to avoid all kinds of medication as it could negatively impact the fetus’s health. Staying away from smokers is critical, as passive smoking is more dangerous than active smoking.
If you have any questions about painkillers, OTC drugs, and prescription medication, it is recommended that you get in touch with a healthcare professional. The good news is that most GPs and licensed nutrition experts have now incorporated telemedicine into their practice. This means you can ‘see your doctor.’ on your laptop or smartphone, and ask any questions that you might have.
Being pregnant is all about taking care of two people. You are responsible for the health of your baby, so it’s important not to be reckless with your eating habits, and general lifestyle. It’s also important to stay fit and exercise during pregnancy. Most of all – learn to keep your stress at bay and enjoy this beautiful time with your little one!