Foods for a Happy Pregnancy
Image Source: livescience
Before the little baby is brought to real world physically, the only way it communicates with others is via the mother. What the mother eats or drinks has a lot of effect on the growth of the baby to be born. So, it’s important the mother must remain cautious during that period. Experts recommend that a mother-to-be must choose a variety of healthy foods and beverages to provide the important nutrients a baby needs for growth and development.
Key Pregnancy Nutrition
A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein than a woman who is not expecting. Following is the reason why they are important:
Folic acid: Also known as foliate when found in foods, is a B vitamin that is crucial in helping to prevent birth defects in the baby's brain and spine, known as neural tube defects. A daily intake of 400 micrograms for at least a month before becoming pregnant and 600 micrograms during pregnancy is recommended.
Food sources - leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, breads and pastas.
Calcium: It is a mineral used to build a baby's bones and teeth. If a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, the mineral will be drawn from the mother's stores in her bones and given to the baby to meet the extra demands of pregnancy. It is recommended to have at least 1000 milligrams of calcium per day.
Food sources - milk, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified juices and foods etc.
Iron: Iron is required to make proper oxygen rich blood supply to the baby. Getting too little iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia, a condition resulting in fatigue and an increased risk of infections. It is recommended to have 27 milligrams of iron per day during pregnancy which is double the amount when a mother is not expecting.
Food sources - meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereal.
- Protein: More protein is required during pregnancy because it helps to build important organs in the baby, such as the brain and heart. Food sources - meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, eggs, nuts etc.
- In addition to these, immune support medicines can also be taken. Only those that are extracted naturally. But a doctor’s consult is necessary for this.
Foods to Limit
In order to maintain the nutritious food intake, it’s also important for the mother to know which foods to restrict. Following is a list of foods whose intake must not go beyond a particular limit:
- Caffeine: As per experts, moderate caffeine consumption does not contribute to miscarriage or premature birth. However caffeine in excessive quantity may cause harm to the baby.
- Fish: Fish is a good source of lean protein. However, they should limit certain species of fishes like salmon which has high levels of mercury. Mercury is a metal that can be harmful to a baby's developing brain. Canned light tuna has less mercury and is safer to eat during pregnancy.
Foods to avoid
The following is a list of foods that’s better if avoided completely:
- Alcohol: Alcohol in the mother's blood can pass directly to the baby through the umbilical cord. Heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, a group of conditions that can include physical problems, as well as learning and behavioral difficulties in babies and children.
- Unpasteurized food: According to experts, pregnant women are at high risk of getting sick from two different types of food poisoning: listeriosis, caused by the Listeriabacteria, and toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. Foods like Hot Dog, Ham salad, Chicken salad must be avoided.
- Raw meat: A mother can pass a Toxoplasma infection on to her baby, which can cause problems such as blindness and mental disability later in life if consumes raw or undercooked meat.
Other than having nutritious food, the following points help the deliver a healthy baby:
- Take care of the mother. Don’t let her do heavy tasks.
- Keep the environment cheerful. It’s important she doesn’t have any signs of depression.
- Ensure the mother has a proper sleep.
- Don’t forget to go for a regular checkup of the mother and keep a track of the progress of the baby.