During pregnancy, your body goes through numerous changes that require a well-balanced diet for fuel. As an imbalanced diet during pregnancy can have adverse effects on the growth and development of your baby, it is important to seek the advice of a healthcare professional or your doctor. Our qualified dieticians will advise you on what to eat during pregnancy to ensure that you have optimum nutrition.
Must-Have Elements In Your Diet: Proteins:
In most instances, it is important that you supplement your diet for pregnancy with more proteins. The structural material that forms the foundation of your baby’s body, it can be had from beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat, chicken and nuts. Try to eat two portions of fish a week at least one of which should be oily fish such as salmon or sardines.
Vitamins like folic acid are also essential for your diet in pregnancy as it can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Be sure to supplement your diet with a daily dose of 400 micrograms folic acid even before you conceive. It is also advisable to have foods such as green leafy vegetables and brown rice that contain folate.
During pregnancy, your body will need more iron because the blood volume increases. Essential for the formation of haemoglobin, iron deficiency is associated with preterm birth and low birth weight in babies. You will be prescribed supplemental iron if your blood tests reveal anaemia and low iron levels. Try to include foods rich in iron in your diet such as lean meat, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit and nuts.
Calcium is an integral part of pregnancy food. It is essential for the development of your baby’s bones and teeth. Dairy products and fish with edible bones, such as sardines, are rich in calcium. Breakfast cereals, dried fruit, tofu and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and curly kale, are other good sources of calcium.
Women who are obese (BMI > 30) before their pregnancy have an increased risk of complications such as diabetes, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and blood clots. They are also more likely to have a longer labour with slower wound healing after delivery.
There is no need to ‘eat for two’ and your calorie requirements do not change in the first six months of pregnancy. Only in the last three months will your energy needs increase by around 200 calories per day.
Your meals should be based on starchy foods such as potatoes, bread or rice preferably wholegrain. You should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day and include foods rich in fibre. Foods high in fats, sugars and salt, should be kept to the minimum.
Some other elements should be added to a healthy diet in pregnancy, which your health-care provider or doctor will be able to take you through. It is advisable to go in for regular health check-ups to ensure that your nutrition during pregnancy is properly monitored and maintained.
Food Items to Avoid:
During pregnancy, it is important also to avoid certain food items, as they can directly or indirectly endanger the health and well-being of your child. The list includes:
Seafood could be an excellent source of the iron, protein zinc that is needed by your growing baby. Many fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that have DHA. DHA can greatly help in your baby's brain development. However, fish also contain mercury. Eating too much fish could cause the mercury levels to build up in your blood which in turn could be harmful to your baby's brain and nervous system.
Recommended fish during pregnancy include herring, salmon, canned light tuna, shrimp, catfish and trout. It is advisable to limit fish consumption to up to 2 servings a week. Also, avoid swordfish, shark, or king mackerel. Having raw fish or undercooked and shellfish like oysters, mussels, clams or sushi can cause severe disorders. It is important to cook them well to prevent infections. Seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145o F so that shrimp and lobster appear opaque the fish separates into flakes. Shellfish should be cooked until their shells open.
Avoid rare steak as undercooked meats could be contaminated with toxoplasmosis or salmonella, both of which are dangerous for you and your baby.
Unpasteurized Dairy Products:
Milk is an excellent source of calcium and also provides proteins and minerals. However, unpasteurized milk or products put you at the risk of severe food poisoning. Some soft cheeses like brie, camembert, feta, blue cheese and some Mexican style cheeses are avoidable.
Raw or Undercooked Eggs:
During pregnancy, runny, raw or undercooked eggs are completely avoidable. Raw eggs contain Salmonella, a bacteria which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and make you really sick. Avoid mousse desserts and mayonnaise contain raw eggs.
Excessive Caffeine-Related Products:
Excessive caffeine-related products are linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Hence, it is important to keep a tab on them. Apart from tea, coffee and chocolate, caffeine is found in various cola drinks and certain cold and flu medicines. Discuss with your doctor to know the recommend the caffeine limit.
Alcohol is a complete no-no during pregnancy. Consuming anything that contains alcohol while during pregnancy increases the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. Hence, it is recommended to abstain from alcohol completely.
A registered dietician, in close association with your doctor, will be able to give you a detailed chart of food items that should be avoided during pregnancy to ensure good health, both for you and your child.
At Apollo Cradle, we work closely with you to create a customised pregnancy diet chart that keeps you well fed and ensures healthy growth for your child. Schedule a check-up to speak with one of our team of experts today.