At no other time are nutrition and diet more important than during your pregnancy. It sure is an exciting time for you and your spouse, but now you, the mother-to-be, will have to be extra careful of what you eat because everything that you eat will have an impact on your baby’s development. If you are a first-time parent, we understand your doubts and concerns and are here to help you.
In this article, we tell you about all the healthy food for pregnant women that you can add to your diet to ensure the good health of both you and your baby. We cover all the three trimesters so that it is easier for you to provide your baby with the required nutrients for the developmental stage that they are in. So, without further ado, let’s check out some best foods to eat when pregnant.
Best Food For Pregnant Women
First Trimester (4 – 13 weeks)
Although you need all the vital nutrients throughout your entire pregnancy, the most essential nutrients that you will need in your first trimester include folic acid, iron and vitamin B6 .
Folic acid or vitamin B9 helps protect your baby from neural tube disorders and other birth defects. Iron ensures the production of healthy red blood cells and lowers the risk of anaemia.
While vitamin B6 will help ease nausea and morning sickness in pregnant women .
Food items rich in folic acid include [2,3]:
- Brussels sprouts
- Leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, spring greens and spinach
- Chickpeas and kidney beans
- Citrus fruits
- Nuts and seeds
Food items rich in iron include :
- Lean meat
Food items rich in vitamin B6 include :
- Poultry, such as chicken or turkey
- Soya beans
Second Trimester (14 – 27 weeks)
The second trimester of pregnancy marks the development of your baby’s bones and brain. In this period, you will be needing plenty of calcium and vitamin D for bone development and omega 3 for the development of their brains. Another essential nutrient that you will need in this phase is beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A, for healthy blood and skin.
Sources of calcium include :
- Greens leafy vegetables
Sources of vitamin D include :
- Egg yolk
- Limited intake of fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, etc
- Soy beverage
Also remember, exposure to morning sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D.
Sources of Omega 3 include :
- Fish and other seafood (but not in excess)
- Nuts and seeds like flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, etc
- Soy beverages
Sources of beta-carotene include :
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Spinach and kale
- Fresh fruits like cantaloupe and apricots
- Red and yellow peppers
- Romaine lettuce
Third Trimester (28 – 40 weeks)
The third trimester of pregnancy marks the rapid growth of your baby as they gain weight to prepare for the life outside. The nutrients you will need during this period is vitamin K that will ensure that you have no blood clots and will help you during the delivery .
Vitamin K enriched foods include :
- Mustard Greens
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Soybean Oil
- Green Peas
Foods To Steer Clear Of During Pregnancy
Along with being mindful of what to eat, it is also important that you know what you must avoid as consuming certain foods during pregnancy can affect the growth and development of your precious. Here are some foods items that you may want to bid adieu to for several months now :
- High mercury fish such as tuna, king mackerel, swordfish, etc
- Undercooked or raw meat
- Caffeine (consumption in limited amounts may not be very harmful)
- Raw sprouts
- Unpasteurized milk
- Processed junk foods
Additional Health Tips For Pregnant Women
Pregnancy is one of the biggest milestones of a woman’s life. It is exciting, but can also be overwhelming as you are entering into the new chapter of your life, also the hormones tend to wreak havoc on your emotions and moods. And all these emotions and moods of the mother can have a major impact on the baby inside her womb. Therefore, it is essential to keep negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and anger at bay. Whenever you feel sad, upset or surrounded by negative emotions try and get to the root of it, talk to your spouse, friends and family about things that are bothering you.
Exercise along with nutrition is also very important for maintaining your health and that of your baby’s. We’re not talking about heavy weight lifting or anything of that sorts, but simple exercises such as stretching, walking and simple yoga can help you alleviate back pain, fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations and may make the delivery process a little more bearable.
Your diet has a major role to play in your child’s development while you’re pregnant, and so does your overall health. Every individual’s nutritional needs vary based on their health conditions. Therefore, it is essential to seek the advice of a professional when it comes to meal planning, especially if you have any underlying health condition.