Eat Right For A Healthy Pregnancy
Written by Pamela Lim, https://joyfulparenting.sg
Knowing you are growing a new human being inside of you can create many questions, as well as stir up the emotions of excitement and fear. Making sure by doing everything in your power to create a happy and healthy baby is a natural desire.
A mom’s body provides her baby with nourishment, comfort and protection. The little life starts growing inside you before you even know it’s there. The body goes through so many changes in order to nourish and protect that life. The belly grows; heart pumps more blood; joints and bones support the increasing weight while this new life is growing inside the uterus. It makes complete sense that the baby and mom are communicating to each other through their hormones, nutrients, chemicals, and whatever travels with the blood and through placenta in the amniotic fluid.
Taking care of yourself during pregnancy gets your baby off to the best possible start in life. It ensures that your baby will have a happy, healthy mother. Whether good nutrition has long been a priority in your life or if you’re just beginning to be more intentional about what you eat, you will find that proper nutrition during pregnancy is very rewarding.
Women who make sure they practice proper nutrition during pregnancy will have an easier time losing those extra pounds after the baby is born. By learning how to take care of yourself and making healthy choices during your pregnancy, you’ll be less likely to gain unnecessary amounts of excess weight, and the weight you gain will be easier to lose.
Mothers who are well-nourished during pregnancy:
- Have fewer problems with morning sickness, constipation, fatigue, heartburn and muscle cramps.
- Experience fewer cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods that have little nutritional value.
- Are less likely to develop pregnancy complications, such as anaemia, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature birth or giving birth to a baby with low birth weight.
- Have an easier labour with fewer complications.
- Find it easier to take off excess weight after the birth and experience less postpartum depression.
Proper nutrition during pregnancy also results in healthier babies who:
- Are a healthier weight at birth.
- Are less likely to experience complications during and immediately after birth, including birth defects.
- Are less likely to experience developmental delays.
Basic Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
- Avoid environmental toxins including smoking, alcohol, illicit drugs, caffeine, and airborne chemicals such as household cleaners. Avoid smoking, alcohol, and using illicit drugs yourself. During pregnancy it is also better for baby to avoid caffeine, which is found in coffee, colas, tea, chocolate, and some over-the-counter medications. All of these environmental toxins are especially dangerous in the first trimester (conception through month three). Other environmental toxins to avoid include bug sprays, building materials, and the like as they contain known or suspected teratogens – substances that can cause birth defects.
- Eating right is one of the best tips for a healthy pregnancy. Make sure you are getting the right mix of the six basic nutrients: lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals (mainly calcium and iron) and water.
- To maintain a healthy pregnancy, approximately 300 extra calories are needed each day. These calories should come from a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Sweets and fats should be kept to a minimum.
Here is what you want to do:
1.) Eat whole foods!!! Whole foods are foods that you can imagine growing in nature, for example, fish, apple, avocado, chicken, almonds, blueberries, brown rice, olives, pears, lettuce, kale, pecans, sunflower seeds, etc. These foods are natural and have not been enriched or processed. When we eat foods in their whole form, we get all the nutrients, carbohydrates, protein, and fats in perfect balance. Plus, they make us feel calmer and more nourished.
2.) Stay away from processed foods. They are loaded with all kinds of junk. Fake, man-made fats like hydrogenated oil, artificial sweeteners, fillers, binders, bleaching agents, solvents and are often fortified with synthetic vitamins. They have a long shelf-life.
3.) Eat organic meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, milk, nuts, and beans as much as possible. If you are on a tight budget, the 2 things that are the most important to buy organic are meat and dairy products. Then fruit and vegetables but you can get away with buying hydroponic and some non-organic produce. A review published in 2010 found organic foods to contain more Vitamin C, iron and magnesium as well as more antioxidants.
4.) Eat locally and seasonally grown foods. They tend to be fresher, more varied nutrients and have more energy. Plus you get to buy the food from the farmers themselves.
5.) Eat fermented foods like kefir and organic yogurt or take a probiotic. (Plain Greek yogurt is best as it is higher in protein and you can sweeten it with fruit or honey.) It’s extremely important that you have healthy bacteria flora in your gut so that your baby can get off to the best start.
6.) Eat dairy and meats from grass-fed animals and eggs from free range chickens – They tend to be higher in omega 3’s, rich in DHA, vitamin A, D, E, and K, higher in CLA (useful for fat burning) and higher in tryptophan (helps with sleep and mood).
7.) Eat good fats like first cold-pressed olive oil, wild Alaskan salmon, virgin coconut oil, avocado, raw nuts and seeds. Make sure you get your Omega 3’s- DHA and EPA. Omega 3’s build smarter brains and helps protect us from post-partum depression.
8.) Eat fiber rich foods. You need 20-30 grams a day from organic fruits, vegetables and great grains like oatmeal, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, or quinoa.
9.) Know that food by nature is a signalling substance. Every time we eat we tell our bodies which genes to turn on or which genes to turn off. In fact there is more gene expression two hours after you eat than any other times. When you eat a diet full of processed foods and devoid of certain nutrients, you may be telling your body or programming your baby’s body to turn on genes that are predisposed to certain diseases.
10.) Drink pure filtered water. Stay away from bottled water. Studies show that the plastic contains BPA which is an endocrine disrupter. BPA has been linked to obesity, cancer, and, most relevant here, childhood neurological disorders such as anxiety and hyperactivity. Bisphenol S, a replacement used in BPA-free products, equally affects neurodevelopment. These findings suggest that BPA-free products are not necessarily safe. Drink 2-3 quarts of water a day. Store water in glass or stainless-steel bottles.
11.) Eat 6 fist sized, nutrient-dense meals a day. It is important to keep your blood sugar level throughout pregnancy.
12.) Get Enough Natural Light! Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D. It is a good idea to have your Vitamin D levels checked.
Make sure you are taking a good pre-natal vitamin and mineral supplement as well as a pharmaceutical grade omega 3 supplement. You want to make sure the omega 3 supplement you take is free from heavy metals or PCB. Dr. William Sears, recommends 1000 mg. a day while pregnant if you do not fish; or 500 mg. a day if you eat 12 ounces of fish a week. (More fish than that is not recommended for pregnant woman. Wild caught Alaska salmon is the best.)
If you want to learn more about prenatal power foods and what will make you and your baby thrive, check out my Prenatal Heath 101 class. Best of all, you will learn practical strategies for making these beneficial eating habits a long-lasting part of your family’s life.