Pregnancy and nutrition

Pregnancy and nutrition: feeding your baby the right stuff. Photo: Pixabay

Pregnancy and nutrition: feeding your baby the right stuff

Understanding what to eat during pregnancy can be the game-changer in the growth and development of your baby, it can also help prevent fetal defects.

Pregnancy and nutrition

Pregnancy and nutrition: feeding your baby the right stuff. Photo: Pixabay

Healthy nutrition during pregnancy means a healthy baby, nutrition plays an integral role in the growth and development of your baby and it can be a game-changer for the baby’s brain development too.

Pregnant mothers need to have a balanced and nutritious eating plan.

Complex carbs such as oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or brown rice are considered healthy options for refined carbohydrates according to health and medical experts.

What to eat during pregnancy

Protein also plays an integral part in the growth of the baby and in keeping the fetus strong. Protein found in dairy products such as cottage cheese and pasteurized milk is generally safe to eat. Any unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided as they carry risks for the baby. Unpasteurized dairy products are often contaminated with bacteria such as Listeria and E. coli which can lead to miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

Other sources of good protein can be found in lean meat, poultry, eggs, and fish such as salmon. Salmon is reported to contain omega-3 fatty acids which are vital in the development of the fetus. Legumes such as chickpeas, peanuts, and kidney beans are safe to eat and are packed with protein and other essential nutrients.

A balanced and nutritious plan during pregnancy should include healthy fats. Pregnant mothers need a good dose of monounsaturated fats such as nuts, olive oil, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats in the form of seeds, nuts, and salmon fish are generally safe to eat accordingly to reports.

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Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and kale are “rich in antioxidants and fiber” and can minimize constipation, a report by BabyCenter. Fruits such as oranges, avocados, and blueberries are considered safe to eat during pregnancy as well. Hydration is critical and essential for pregnant women, so water should become your next best friend especially if you were not a “big” water fanatic pre-pregnancy

Expectant moms-to-be need a good, daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Generally, pregnant mothers would find a good and quality amount of vitamins and minerals in their eating plans. However, some vitamins and minerals should be consumed at all costs.

Prenatal vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 and minerals such as Iron and Calcium are essential as they play an important role in preventing fetal defects and are necessary for the fetus’s overall development. In case mothers are falling short of meeting the recommended daily vitamins and minerals intake, supplementation can be considered at the discretion of their healthcare providers.

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Foods, and drinks to avoid during pregnancy

  • Unpasteurized food – As mentioned, unpasteurized dairy products such as milk and cheese should be avoided at all costs as they’re often contaminated with bacteria such as Listeria and E. coli which could pose serious dangers to unborn babies. Unpasteurized fruit juices should also be avoided.
  • Unwashed produce – The peels of fruits and vegetables may contain bacteria such as Toxoplasma and Listeria and parasites which can do more harm to both the mother and more importantly, the baby. Washing fresh produce before consumption is critical and is considered a good health habit.
  • Undercooked or raw meatHealthline reports that “Eating undercooked or raw meat increases your risk of infection from several bacteria or parasites, including Toxoplasma, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. Bacteria may threaten the health of your little one, possibly leading to stillbirth or severe neurological illnesses, including intellectual disability, blindness, and epilepsy.”
  • Alcohol – “It’s advised to completely avoid drinking alcohol when pregnant, as it increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirthTrusted Source. Even a small amount can negatively impact your baby’s brain developmentTrusted Source. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can also cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which involves facial deformities, heart defects, and intellectual disability. Since no level of alcoholTrusted Source has been proven to be safe during pregnancy, it’s recommended to avoid it altogether,” Healthline reports.
  • Caffeine – High consumption of caffeine during pregnancy could affect the baby’s growth. Reports reveal that pregnant people need not more than 200mg (milligrams) of caffeine daily intake. The risks associated with high caffeine intake during pregnancy include the restriction of “fetal growth and low birth weight at delivery.”

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