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From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, you want to do everything you can to keep your baby healthy. And this begins with what you eat.
The right nutrition can ensure healthy development, prevent complications, and keep your own body thriving throughout your pregnancy. However, with so much information available, it can be tricky to choose the right foods.
Fortunately, a healthy pregnancy diet does not need to be complicated. With support from your doctor and some wellness know-how, you can nourish both yourself and your baby.
This guide will answer some basic questions about eating during pregnancy and how you can choose the right foods.
What are the most important nutrients for pregnant women?
It’s essential for pregnant women to eat a balanced and nutritious pregnancy diet through each trimester, but certain nutrients are extra important. Folic acid is one critical nutrient. Also known as folate, this nutrient supports neural tube development and prevents birth defects. Folate is found in foods like beans, citrus fruits, peanuts, leafy greens, and fortified cereals.
Other essential nutrients include calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Pregnant women should also take care to eat enough iron since this nutrient supports oxygen-rich blood supply to both you and your baby.
Since your nutritional requirements may increase during pregnancy, most doctors will recommend a prenatal vitamin. This supplement can ensure that you are getting enough of the above nutrients (plus other vitamins) during your pregnancy.
How can you find the right prenatal vitamin?
With so many prenatal supplements on the market, it can be tricky to find the right one. All pregnant women should talk to their doctors about which brands they recommend and how to spot a reputable product.
Your doctor can recommend a nutrition manufacturer to support your unique health needs. They may also advise that you start taking this supplement while you are trying to conceive, so your body can contain essential nutrients from the beginning of your baby’s development.
Are there any foods that pregnant women should avoid?
You should be filling your plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, legumes, dairy, and whole grains. However, there are some foods that are best avoided during pregnancy. This includes any raw fish, raw meat, and unpasteurized dairy.
Many doctors will also recommend that women steer clear of any food that could potentially expose them to listeria, such as lunch meats and hotdogs. It’s also essential to avoid any fish that could contain mercury.
Remember to always talk to your doctor about which foods you should avoid during pregnancy, as they will have the most up to date information.
Should you really be eating for two?
There is a common myth that pregnant women should be eating for two to support their baby and their own body. While you will need to eat nutritiously, there is no need to eat two people’s worth of food in a day.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends that women eat an extra 300 calories per day during their second and third trimester. If you are concerned about whether you are eating enough, consult your doctor.
Eating during pregnancy may sound complicated, but it can be rewarding. Once you learn to incorporate plenty of nutrients into your meals, you can experiment with new recipes and enjoy this time. This will help you develop an overall healthy lifestyle for both you and your baby.
If you have any doubts about what you are eating, be sure to see your doctor. They can test whether you are getting enough vitamins, protein, and folic acid, so you can enjoy peace of mind during your pregnancy.
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.