A lot of my work focuses on preconception health and nutrition but it doesn’t stop there when pregnancy happens. It becomes even more important for a woman to continue nourishing herself with the best foods to take care of her body because now she is eating for two.
From mother to baby
The baby gets nourishment from what the mother eats and feels to grow, develop and start out life healthy and strong, so choosing healthy, nutritious foods will ensure the health of you and your baby.
Here are some foods that should be included in a pregnancy diet and beyond:
Dark leafy greens
Greens such as kale and spinach contain a lot of the nutrients a pregnant woman needs such as vitamins C, K, and A, fibre, calcium, iron, folate and potassium.
They are rich in antioxidants and contain phytonutrients that benefit the immune system and digestion, while their high fibre content helps prevent constipation, which is a common problem with pregnant women. These help regulate the digestive system and provide rich antioxidants from a natural, food-based source.
Fruits especially berries are packed with water, complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, fibre and plant enzymes that are very beneficial. The vitamin C content helps the body absorb iron and is also important for skin and immune function health.
Whole grains are packed full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They are rich in B-vitamins and magnesium which women need during pregnancy.
Grains such as quinoa and oats have a high protein content, which is also very important during pregnancy.
Yes, eat fats!
Good fats are often the biggest hurdles for many women, but consuming adequate fats is absolutely vital to baby’s organ and brain development.
Women should focus on healthy sources like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, avocados, wild caught fish (good source of Omega oils EPA/DHA).
Protein Women require about 80 grams of protein everyday for a healthy pregnancy. Meat that has been fed on pasture without any growth hormones or antibiotics is best for you. Wild-caught fish have been eating a normal fish diet and living a normal fish life. Fish, cows, chickens, etc. all do better when they eat their natural diet – and in turn their meat is better for you. Other sources of protein are eggs, nuts and seeds such as chia seeds, greens and grains such as quinoa.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir are all nourishing to you and your baby. Here’s the thing – you’ll need to look for a source of clean raw milk. It should come from clean, grass-fed, free-range cows. Find a farmer you trust.
Foods like fermented dairy products, are also very good for you. Sauerkraut, kimchi and other traditional fermented treats will improve your digestion and fill your gut with good bacteria, which is important because your baby will get his or her gut flora directly from you.
A good iron level is important to pregnancy
Try to get good, iron rich foods instead of simply relying on iron tablets, which can cause constipation because they are not easily digested. Food based iron sources are leafy greens, egg yolks, meats, beetroot and raisins.
Drink plenty of water The body is made up of 75% water and during pregnancy; blood volume increases by 1.5 litres, which is why it is very important to stay properly hydrated. Your baby would usually get all it needs so you’ll need to watch your water consumption so as not to get dehydrated. Increasing your water intake will also reduce constipation and the risk of urinary tract infections. Some signs of dehydration include: headaches, anxiety, and tiredness so watch out for those. Drinking 1 – 2 litres a day is ideal and will also help with morning sickness.
Some basic supplements that would be probiotics, which are good for building up, gut health, Omega 3,6,9 (EPA/DHA) and vitamin D.
What you eat before, during and after pregnancy affects your energy and wellbeing and directly impacts the health and development of your baby.
In essence, having a balanced diet packed full of good sources of protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats is key to nourishing you and your baby during pregnancy.
Eating 3 meals a day, snacking in-between meals and keeping hydrated will go a long way to promoting a healthy, thriving pregnancy. Peace and fabulous health! If you would like more information or help with creating a healthy pregnancy diet plan, connect with Expert Gloria Halim.