BabyGaga had the chance to speak to neonatologist Dr. Christina Valentine about the importance of a few key foods in your prenatal diet.
Pregnancy is a time when your body is undergoing a ton of changes, and your diet will have to be adjusted a little bit to support your needs and those of your baby. While it’s always advisable to eat a balanced diet filled with a lot of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats, a pregnant woman needs some additional doses of vitamins and minerals to maintain optimal wellbeing. Having a good understanding of what foods you should be eating is a good idea before you plan to get pregnant. A balanced and complete diet will help your overall sense of wellbeing before, during, and after pregnancy, so make sure you pay attention to what you are eating!
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We understand that there is a lot of information online about pregnancy diets, so we spoke to industry experts to help us get a clear picture of what foods should be targeted during pregnancy. These tips are easy to follow and recommended by top health officials.
How Should I Eat During Pregnancy?
Your pregnancy diet might be affected by several factors, and is likely to change as you transition from one trimester to the next. Even with the best intentions, a pregnant woman can’t always predict how her body is going to react to pregnancy hormones, which are often calling the shots when it comes to particular cravings, aversions, and morning sickness, While you might intend to eat a well-balanced diet, morning sickness or feeling like certain foods aren’t going down as well as they used to can keep you from getting all of the nutrients that you need.
Dr. Christina Valentine is a neonatologist and the medical director of Reckitt Benckiser/Mead Johnson Nutrition. Her many years of experience with pregnant and postnatal women has allowed her to compile certain guidelines for proper nutrition during pregnancy. Dr. Valentine spoke with BabyGaga about what to focus on in your diet during pregnancy, and she said, “During pregnancy, it is important that you not only eat well but target key foods to eat the appropriate nutrients and energy needed to keep you and your baby healthy. Make sure that your diet contains a balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. As a general rule, you need to consume about 300 more calories per day than you did before you became pregnant. Some key nutrients to focus on for your pregnancy health and your growing baby’s development include folic acid which is found in green leafy vegetables, orange juice, or supplements and the long-chain fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fatty fish, certain egg yolks and supplements.”
Start The Day Well
While many pregnant women have a hard time eating in the morning, you should try to get a good base of fat and protein in as soon as your stomach has settled. This will allow you to boost your energy for the day, and keep you from feeling weak. Focus on eating a protein and fat-rich breakfast.
Wholegrain toast with eggs and avocado is a great option. If an avocado isn’t your thing, try to add at least one green veggie into your meal. Try to make an omelet with broccoli, or add spinach to your smoothie. This added protein and iron-boost will keep you going until at least lunchtime. Don’t skip your iron supplement, either! While many women feel like the supplements are harsh on an empty stomach, if you take it mid-meal, it will digest better. Taking the iron supplement with a glass of calcium-rich orange juice will help absorption rates.
Eat The Foods You Enjoy
While you should be focusing on eating healthy and balanced meals during pregnancy, you don’t need to skip out on the foods that you enjoy. Try to incorporate meals that you love so that you don’t feel as if you are being restricted. While raw sushi is not advised during pregnancy, you can always treat yourself to some delicious veggie sushi (or sushi with cooked fish!). Eat intentionally and slowly, and try to keep a variety going with your meals. Your appetite might be huge, but then you feel full quicker, so try to opt for tapas if you go out to eat at a restaurant. You can try different things without feeling like you overdid it.
The key is to get a good supply of healthy foods into your system, but don’t beat yourself up if you are supplementing with several snacks and treats. The goal isn’t to deprive yourself or stop feeding the cravings, but to make sure that you already have a good nutritious base before going for the pint of ice cream.
Keep Up With Your Doctor’s Visits
During pregnancy, diet has a lot of effects on your growing body. Iron is particularly vital for your pregnant body and developing baby. Since deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals are more common during pregnancy, it’s important that you keep up with your doctor’s visits and get regular bloodwork to make sure everything is in order. If you feel weak, dizzy, or unusually tired, it could be a sign of low iron. Make sure you call your OBGYN if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. You might need to adjust your prenatal vitamin or iron supplement if your body is not absorbing them properly. In rare incidents, a pregnant woman might need to undergo an iron transfusion, but this is usually only done if the iron levels remain consistently low for two or more blood tests. The procedure is quite routine and quick.
Hydrate And Get Moving!
Another super important component of any pregnancy diet is water! Making sure that you are properly hydrated is super vital to your feelings of well-being during pregnancy. Keep a reusable water bottle nearby at all times, and sip on herbal tea throughout the day to keep yourself going. Your changing body will also benefit from some physical activity during pregnancy, so strap on your running shoes and get outside! While you might want to steer clear from vigorous exercise, getting a big daily walk in can help you feel more energized and fit. Swimming is another great low-impact activity that can be safely practiced throughout your pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your body is constantly changing, and it’s normal that your diet will change as well. Trying to stay consistent is the best bet, even if you aren’t sticking to a strict regime. The most important thing is to prioritize foods that are healthy and will give you an overall feeling of energy and vitality. Your growing baby will appreciate all the goodness you are putting into your body, too!
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