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Pregnancy is a significant time in the life of a woman. It is not only a period when a woman’s body undergoes major changes but also an opportunity for her to ensure that the baby gets everything it needs for good health and growth.
So, while you watch your due date calculator, you must also watch what you take in your body, as this could affect you and your baby.
To help you decide what to eat and drink, we’ve listed the top nutrients you need during your pregnancy.
Folate (Folic Acid)
Folate is a B vitamin essential in the production of blood and protein. It also reduces the risk of neural tube defects (congenital disabilities of the brain and spinal cord).
You need at least 400 micrograms of folate daily before and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. During pregnancy, doctors recommend you get 600 micrograms daily.
Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth during pregnancy and prevents low calcium levels in the mother’s body. You need to get at least 1,000 mg of calcium during pregnancy daily. I have previously shared tips to get more calcium in your diet.
Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs to make red blood cells, which help to deliver oxygen throughout the body.
During pregnancy, you need 27 milligrams (mg) of iron daily—about 3 times more than what non-pregnant women require.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for healthy skin and gums. It also helps strengthen your immune system, which may be weakened during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you need 85 mg of vitamin C each day. It works well with iron so be sure to get enough of that too.
Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium in the body. The Vitamin D Council recommends that pregnant women consume at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day (1).
However, there is still debate about how much vitamin D you should consume during pregnancy, as research studies have produced conflicting results about its effect on birth weight or the risk of preeclampsia. Make sure to consult with your doctor before taking any Vitamin D supplements.
What to Eat and drink
A healthy diet during pregnancy is the key to your baby’s health. Certain nutrients you need more of and others that you should avoid.
- Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yoghurt are good sources of calcium which helps build strong bones and teeth.
- Dark green vegetables: spinach, broccoli, kale, etc., contain iron that helps prevent anaemia (low red blood count). Iron aids in the baby’s normal brain development and proper blood circulation in their arteries and veins.
- Lean meat/protein: Eggs, chicken breast, or tuna fish provide sufficient protein, which is essential for growth & tissue repair in both mother & child during pregnancy.
- Fruits and veggies like oranges, kiwis, and papayas are good sources of Vitamin C. Or drink some orange juice! If you don’t like oranges or kiwis (or papayas), try to eat more bell peppers or broccoli, which have high amounts of vitamin C too!
What to avoid
It’s important to avoid alcohol which is not considered safe during pregnancy. Drinking more than two drinks can lead to low birth weight, premature birth, miscarriage, and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, and soda but in chocolate products such as ice cream and candy bars. Caffeine may be harmful because it increases blood pressure levels that can cause problems with the placenta, and disturbs hormonal changes important for the development of a fetus.
There are also certain kinds of fish because they contain high levels of mercury, which can harm a growing baby.
So there you have it. Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy can help you (and your baby) stay healthy.
So, don’t skimp on nutrition. It’s essential to eat a healthy diet during pregnancy.
Remember that eating well also means getting enough sleep and exercising regularly!
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