Although pregnancy can be hard on the body, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help ease the impacts. Eating a healthy diet, incorporating regular, light exercise, staying hydrated, and keeping mentally positive are all strategies known to help moms through the pregnancy process.
Healthy eating is one of the best ways to keep your body running at its best during pregnancy. In general, moms should aim for 300 additional calories a day to support their growing baby. The best way to get all the necessary nutrients is to maintain a varied diet, one filled with grub from all food groups. But there are lingering questions that mothers have while pregnant, which include any necessary supplements and what foods to restrict.
When pregnant women plan their diets, many consider using supplements to ensure that they are receiving all necessary nutrients. Healthy eating is a great way to get the most vitamins and minerals naturally, but sometimes you need a little boost with the help of dietary supplements.
Prenatal vitamins are probably the most popular supplement recommended to expectant mothers, and for a good reason. Prenatal vitamins help to supplement healthy eating by incorporating the amounts of essential vitamins and minerals one needs during pregnancy. Moms should try their best with a varied diet, and use these supplements to fill in any missing gaps. Prenatal vitamins do not take the place of a balanced diet.
Prenatal vitamins are also an excellent way to consume those vital nutrients without having to juggle an assortment of pills. Instead, moms can take just one capsule and know they are getting what they need to support their baby. Prenatal vitamins contain three essential vitamins: folic acid, calcium, and iron.
You’ve probably heard about folic acid and pregnancy before. That’s because it plays a vital role in supporting the neural tube, which impacts the development of the baby’s spinal cord and brain. If planning a pregnancy, many doctors also recommend taking folic acid while trying to conceive and continuing through the entire first trimester.
Calcium & Iron
Expectant mothers need extra calcium so that both mom and baby have an adequate supply. Babies will use calcium from their mother’s bones to help develop their own. Calcium in prenatal vitamins ensures that mom doesn’t lose her bone density in the process. Iron is also a vital supplement, as it helps to carry oxygen to the baby.
Other essential nutrients for moms-to-be (which prenatal vitamins include) are iodine, niacin, vitamins B12 and C, zinc, and riboflavin. Iodine is especially important, as it supports the baby’s overall physical and mental growth.
Remember that supplements are essential to take in addition to healthy eating. You can find folic acid in many leafy greens, as well as nuts, beans, and citrus fruit. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, tofu, and nuts. Moms can get iron by consuming seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
Supplementing nutrients is only one aspect of healthy eating while pregnant. It’s also important to consider any restrictions on a diet. Some restrictions are commonly known, such as avoiding raw fish and cured meats. However, there are a few more to consider, including caffeine, alcohol, and unpasteurized products.
Fish & Raw/Processed Meat
In today’s environment, it’s common for fish to contain high amounts of mercury and bacteria. It is essential to avoid as too much mercury can cause problems with the baby’s nervous and immune systems. Raw fish is particularly prone to bacteria, such as listeria. Doctors also include processed and raw meats into restrictions because of bacterial infections, such as E. coli, listeria, and salmonella.
Commonly unpasteurized goods like cheese and fruit juice can also contain harmful bacteria similar to raw fish and cured meats.
Caffeine & Alcohol
Expectant mothers should limit caffeine, as unborn babies don’t have the enzymes to metabolize it, and too much can cause low birth weight and stunted growth. Moms need to completely avoid alcohol since even the smallest amount can inhibit brain development. It can also cause fetal alcohol syndrome, heart defects, and stillborn.