Following a nutritious and varied diet during pregnancy is the best way to care for yourself and your baby. Moreover, it is crucial to see your healthcare specialist regularly until your prenatal weeks to reduce the risk of complications and ensure a safe delivery.
The following food groups provide you with the vitamins, minerals and protein required for a healthy pregnancy.
1. Vegetables and fruits – at least seven different types each day.
2. Breads, cereals, pasta and rice (whole grain is the best) – at least six servings per day.
3. Milk products like milk, yogurt, cheese or cottage cheese – two servings a day.
4. Lean protein sources like fish, chicken, eggs, meat, nuts and pulses (seeds of legumes) – at least one serving a day.
Realistically, however, many women fail to stick to a healthy diet during their pregnancy, resulting in inadequate nutrients for both the mother and the baby. Among the vitamins and minerals needed by a woman during pregnancy are folic acid and iron.
Prenatal healthcare research shows that women with a high level of folic acid before pregnancy are less likely to give birth to a baby with the abnormality known as neutral tube defect. This tube is the part of developing fetus from which the skull, brain and spine develop. A diet rich in folate before and in early pregnancy will prevent the highest percentage of these deformities.
Iron is an essential mineral in food that can also be found in our liver, spleen and bone marrow. A body lacking in iron cannot make enough hemoglobin which is important in our red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body and brain. Pregnancy, in particular, requires more than double the usual intake of iron to ensure that you and your baby can get enough oxygen.
Folate And Iron Food Sources
Healthcare experts recommend the following foods rich in iron and folic acid;
- Leafy vegetables
- Whole-grain breads
- Legumes (peas, beans and lentils)
- Meat and fish such as beef, pork, mussels, tuna, liver, etc.
- Dried fruits and natural fruit juices
- Other vegetables such as beans, pumpkin, peas and sweet potatoes
- Grains such as oatmeal, iron-fortified cereals and breads
If you plan to get pregnant, discuss your diet with your healthcare provider. Be sure to get plenty of folate and iron to reduce the risk of rare but serious problems that your baby may acquire. Furthermore, to get the most out of those foods, remember to support your diet with appropriate vitamin supplements and good rest.