If you are pregnant, then you have a big job ahead of you. Pregnancy means eating healthy, exercising, and staying away from toxic substances. What you eat plays a huge role in how your baby develops and how your body copes with the pregnancy.
The prenatal vitamin contains the basic vitamins and minerals that every woman should have while the baby is growing. Folic acid, for example, is essential to the baby’s spinal cord development.
However, just taking a prenatal vitamin and ignoring diet is not enough. When thinking about vitamins and minerals, it is always better to find ways to incorporate them into your diet with nutritious, whole foods, rather than taking a pill.
Essential Vitamins & Minerals for Pregnancy
This mineral helps keep your body oxygenated. It is important to keep up with your prenatal doctor visits, so your physician can monitor your iron level and advise how much to supplement in order to prevent anemia. Some good sources of iron include spinach, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, lentils, red meat, liver, and cream of wheat.
This vitamin helps keep your bones strong and helps aid the development of the baby’s bones. Pregnant women need about 600 international units per day. Good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified juice and cereals, whole milk, and yogurt.
This mineral helps with normal nerve and muscle function, and assists the immune system. Foods high in magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, peas, dark chocolate, avocados, tofu, whole grains, bananas, and seeds.
Most of us know that calcium helps keep our bones strong, so we can imagine what it does for a growing baby’s bones. You need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Good sources of calcium include almonds, tofu, broccoli, kale, yogurt, navy beans, dairy products, seeds, beans, and lentils.
Folate and folic acid
Folate and folic acid appear in the B-vitamin family, and prevent neural tube defects and serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. They also decrease the risk of premature delivery. It is important that you look for folate and folic acid in your prenatal vitamins ingredient list. They are found naturally in green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, citrus fruits, and dried beans. Legumes are a great source of folate, and you should aim for 400 to 800 micrograms per day.
This is essential for everyone to have energy and build muscle, even more so when you are pregnant. Protein is needed for growth, so you can see why you would need plenty of it for you and a growing baby. Some good sources for protein include lean meats, milk, cottage cheese, peanut butter, and eggs.
Take your prenatal vitamin daily, and add any supplements you feel you are lacking. Most importantly, try to routinely include nutritious foods in your diet.
With a nutritious diet and some regular exercise, not only will you have a healthy baby, but you will also remain healthy. Moreover, you will lose your pregnancy weight quicker after delivery if you stay healthy.
Foods to avoid
There are some foods all pregnant women should avoid. These include undercooked meat, sushi, deli meat, smoked seafood, raw eggs, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, caffeine during the first trimester, alcohol, unwashed vegetables, fish high in mercury, sesame seeds, and pineapple.
Some of these foods, like pineapple, are known to cause early labor. Contain your OB-GYN physician any time you experience abnormal symptoms.
Be cautious with your foods, because pregnant women are more apt to contract listeriosis, a bacterium that can cause miscarriage. You could contract listeriosis from deli meats, soft cheeses, whole-cooked chickens that have been placed in the refrigerator, and many of the foods listed above. It’s vital that you make sure your pregnancy diet is free of these foods.
Some of the listed foods are simply hard on pregnant women’s senses and digestion. If you are in the beginning of your pregnancy and have a heightened sense of smell, then some foods can trigger nausea.
Toward the end of your pregnancy, when your abdomen is bigger and pushing your stomach contents back into your esophagus, you should stay away from spicy foods. Not only do spicy foods cause heartburn, but acidic foods cause indigestion. This can vary from person to person. Many women need antacids toward the end of their pregnancy, but simply avoiding spicy foods will help tremendously.
For more information
Eating foods rich in natural vitamins and minerals and avoiding items that doctors have ruled harmful for pregnancy is of utmost importance when growing a baby. While we mainly use food to gain energy, eat something pleasurable, and connect with friends and family, food is also one of the most valuable tools for nourishing and supporting a healthy baby.
For more information about maintaining the best nutrition habits for your unborn baby, contact The Woman’s Clinic at 501-664-4131. Our medical team is eager to support you and provide plenty of guidance for maintaining a healthy pregnancy.