Pregnancy Nourishment for Mom and Baby

 

Pregnancy Nourishment for Mom and Baby



Pregnancy Nourishment for Mom and Baby

Eating right is essential for giving your baby a healthy start in life.


PRE-CONCEPTION


What’s going on in your body?


It’s never too soon to take into consideration how your eating habits will impact your baby. The best way to have the healthiest pregnancy possible is to begin to prepare your body before you conceive. In those first days, as two single cells join to begin to grow an entire human being, the micronutrient demands are high. Folic acid, a B vitamin that helps the body make healthy cells, is particularly important during pregnancy. According to the National Institutes of Health in the United States, when a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and during pregnancy, it can prevent major birth defects of her baby’s brain or spine. This nutrient is crucial in the first 10 days after conception.


Nutritional Strategies


Make sure you include foods rich in folic acid such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts in your pre-pregnancy diet. Enriched breads, cereals and other grain products are also important. Recent studies show that most women are deficient in folic acid. If you suspect you aren’t getting enough folic acid from the foods you eat, consider talking to your doctor or pharmacist about getting a supplement. Prenatal vitamins contain the right amount of folic acid for the growing fetus.


 


FIRST TRIMESTER


What’s going on in your body?


An often overlooked fact is that during the first trimester you’re not only growing an embryo into a fetus, but you’re also growing a new organ. The placenta, which is the vehicle needed to nourish your baby to term, is being established to provide the baby with the oxygen and nutrients it needs for growth. It takes a tremendous amount of hormones for both the placenta and embryo to grow. Although the placenta continues to grow until the 36th week, it does the bulk of its growth during this trimester. It’s necessary that you eat well as an inadequate placenta isn’t going to nourish baby well.


Nutritional Strategies


It’s important to emphasize good nutrition throughout your pregnancy. A healthy placenta ensures that each organ and each system grow strongly. Consider your own health as well. You don’t want to enter motherhood nutritionally depleted. Include all of the following foods throughout your first trimester and your entire pregnancy.


Foods to include


Healthy fats: Olives, Olive Oil, Oily Fish, Nuts and Seeds, Dark Chocolate, Avocados. These will support healthy brain and nervous system development for baby and keep mom healthy as well.


High Calcium Foods: Milk, Yogurt, Cheese. These will help with bone development and help keep mom’s bones strong. People with dairy allergies can eat leafy greens and nuts to get adequate calcium.


High Protein Foods: High Quality Meats, Beans, Nuts and Seeds. These will help with muscle development and also keep mom strong in preparation for birthing.


High Vitamin C Foods: Citrus Fruits, Peppers, Parsley, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Tomatoes. These help strengthen the embryonic sac that holds the baby, placenta, and embryonic fluid. It needs lots of vitamin C to stay tough and strong. Also, mom’s immune system will benefit from the boost.


Simple Carbohydrates: Breads, Crackers, and Biscuits. Morning sickness can be an issue. Use simple carbohydrates to curb the nausea and gnawing hunger pangs. Eat small frequent meals and use your cravings as your guide. If you’re craving a particular healthy food, chances are indulging in it will give you some of the nutrients you need.


The calorie equation


Avoid empty calories and artificial sweeteners. Empty calories are foods rich in fat, sodium, sugar, and dense with calories. Instead, make calories count by choosing healthy, natural foods. Aim for about 1800 – 2000 calories a day. The mentality that you are “eating for 2” will make you gain more weight than you need during pregnancy. Remember that you are “eating for 2” in terms of quality and not quantity.


A note about supplements


If you choose to use supplements, opt for a multivitamin designed for pregnant women as regular multivitamins contain more vitamin A than is necessary for mom and baby. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which supplement he recommends.


SECOND TRIMESTER


What’s going on in your body?


By this time your morning sickness should be a bit better and you may feel a burst of positive energy. Use it to get your body ready for the job of delivering your baby into the world. Prenatal yoga, walking, and swimming are all good pregnancy exercises to keep you fit, strong, and energized. However, it is essential that you first make sure with your doctor that exercising is safe for you.


Nutritional Strategies


Follow all the prenatal and first trimester tips! With the nausea subsiding, this is a great time to eat some hearty and healthy meals full of nutrient-rich foods.


THIRD TRIMESTER


What’s going on in your body?


As the baby gets bigger and takes up more space, you may start feeling some discomfort. The baby is growing rapidly and moving a lot more. Breathing may become more strenuous for you and just when you think you can’t get any bigger, you do! Heartburn may become an issue as your digestive system has less room. You may become constipated and urinate more frequently as well.


Nutritional Strategies


Your body requires more protein to help the baby through this period of rapid growth. The protein will also help get the uterus (which is essentially a big muscle) ready for the contracting necessary during labor and childbirth. You should consume about 300 extra calories a day at this point and expect to gain about half a kilo a week (this is the baby growing!). It is best to add an extra serving of protein to increase your daily calorie requirements. Include boiled eggs, peanut butter, hummus and crackers, lean meat, or a piece of cheese in your diet. Also, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They are high in fiber and can help with constipation while giving you a great nutrient boost.


THE “FOURTH” TRIMESTER (POST-PARTUM)


What’s going on in your body?


After the baby is born, your body will be trying to regain its equilibrium and rebalance your hormones.  You are nourishing the baby in a new way as he is now away from the placenta and onto the breast. During lactation, the uterus begins to shrink. Breast-feeding actually stimulates uterine contractions, which helps your uterus regain its normal size and shape. This may cause cramping in some women.


Nutritional Strategies


As you did during pregnancy, continue to focus on a balanced diet, adequate protein, and plenty of fluids.  Your body will take the nutrients it needs for breast milk, and if you aren’t including enough nutrient-rich foods in your diet, the baby will still get what she needs. However, you will become depleted.  Keep up with the vitamin supplement and aim for the healthiest diet possible.


Note!


• Your baby may be sensitive to some of the food you eat. Avoiding cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower may reduce the baby’s bouts of gas. Some babies may also react to mom having lots of dairy products.


• While breast-feeding, don’t focus too much on weight loss efforts that involve drastically reducing calories. Instead, eat well, gradually reintroduce exercise, and your body will let go of the excess fat when it no longer needs it.