What should pregnant women eat

| November 29, 2015

Every pregnant woman wants the very best for their child. This maternal desire begins the moment that a woman first realises that she is pregnant, with her immediate concern being that her unborn child will develop normally over the nine months of pregnancy, and is born happy and healthy. What is comforting for the mother-to-be is that with a little research on the correct foods to eat when pregnant, she is taking a significant step in the right direction in ensuring the health of her unborn child.

The unborn child sources all of his required nutrients from the mother through the umbilical cord. The essential nutrients are ideally sourced from the foods that the mother consumes on a daily basis, and in some cases can be sourced from the mother’s reserves if she doesn’t consume enough in her diet. Proper nutrition ensures normal fetal growth and development, as well as healthy uterine functions and a healthy placenta and amniotic fluid. Conversely, mortality and an increased risk of developmental disorders are the main risks of poor pregnancy nutrition. The fetus is more susceptible to degenerative diseases and neural and cognitive disorders.

So what do the essential nutrients consist of? Well the essential nutrients are made up of all the vital proteins, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and fatty acids that play a part in the development of the fetus. Ideally all these elements should be sourced from wholesome natural foods and this is why it is so important to be aware of the foods to eat when pregnant. Your doctor will most likely also prescribe pre-natal vitamins to supplement your pregnancy diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are sourced from fish. Omega-3 plays a vital role in the development of your baby’s brain, nerve and eye tissue. However avoid certain predatory fish like marlin, king mackerel, shark and swordfish as theses fish can contain high levels of mercury which is detrimental to both mother and baby. The FDA recommend up to 12 ounces of the following fish on a weekly basis: wild salmon, well cooked shellfish, cod, pollack, sardines and canned light tuna.

Folic acid is an essential element that all pregnant women need to be aware of, even before they are pregnant. Folic acid is essential for the development of the spinal cord and a lack of folic acid can lead to spina-bifida in your baby. However, what’s very important to realise is that within 28 days of conceiving, your baby’s spinal cord will be fully developed and this is why so many women begin taking folic acid supplements up to 3 months prior to becoming pregnant. Excellent food sources of folate include chickpeas, asparagus, sunflower seeds, lentils, broccoli, romaine lettuce and spinach. It is vital for the health of your unborn child that some of these foods are on your list of foods to eat when pregnant.

If there is one element that most women of child-bearing age lack, it is iron. This element is essential for haemoglobin production as the mother’s body strives to produce more blood for the developing fetus. Lack of iron can lead to both mother and child becoming anaemic during the final months of pregnancy. Excellent sources of iron are red meat such as beef and lamb, as well as dark poultry and fish.

Learning about the proper foods to eat when pregnant doesn’t have to be a chore, especially in this day and age when we are spoilt for food choices on our supermarket shelves. What’s good to know is that with a little knowledge and application, you are giving your child an excellent chance of arriving into this world healthy and happy. After all, isn’t this what every mother wants?

Category: Healthcare Basics

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