Fetal development is associated with maternal health. A healthy lifestyle is one way of securing your baby’s well-being, safety, and growth. Switching to a proper diet at the early times of pregnancy may help avoid disabilities and developmental illnesses that may occur along the way.
Folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, iodine, and fiber are the essential nutrients in a healthy pregnancy. An early start with good nutrition may help nourish a child for a healthier body and improved immune system, a well-developed brain, and lower risks of chronic diseases as they grow.
Getting a Guide to a Healthy Start
Having a guide to a healthy food journey is essential; with all the do’s and don’ts during pregnancy, you may want to consider the pros and cons of your food choice at this period. You may consider having a nutritionist, have thorough research, or fetch yourself an excellent book that may help you arrange your meal plans. Check one of amazon’s best-selling books suited for you.
Are You A Lactose Intolerant?
Lactose intolerance is a person’s inability to digest lactose or the sugar found in dairy products. This digestive problem during pregnancy may deprive you of getting your daily calcium requirement, which you can get mainly from dairy foods. Indeed, you don’t want your baby missing any vital nutrients.
You may consider taking this calcium supplement to ensure your baby’s optimal teeth and bone development.
Unsure About Seafood?
Given that you are pregnant and bearing a precious child inside, some will indeed not consider taking seafood, knowing the possible mercury and bacteria contamination and the harm it may cause to your condition. To achieve your Omega-3 fatty acid requirement, you may want to replace seafood with this safer supplement to avoid your baby’s deprivation of this much-needed nutrient.
Moreover, here’s a list of some foods you can grab anytime to make sure you and your baby meet your daily nutrient goals.
1. Best fruits for your growing baby
Pregnant women prefer eating fruits because it does not give them a nauseous feeling.  Most mothers craved certain fruits as part of the first symptoms of pregnancy. Besides serving as a refreshing and hydrating treat, it is also an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruits are best taken first thing in the morning, after a glass of water.
When buying fruits for consumption, you must ensure each piece’s freshness and quality. Always remember to inform yourself of the must-eats and what’s to avoid. To help you make a list for your next shopping, these are some of the best fruits to eat during pregnancy:
Oranges and lemons are known for their vitamin C content. These citrus fruits are best served as fresh juices to serve as a refreshing immunity booster. Note that these are acidic, so it’s best taken during the day and in moderation.
Avocado is a unique fruit; if compared to others by weight, it is richer in potassium and folate, mostly under-consumed by pregnant women. Its nutritional value is linked to better birth outcomes and improved breast milk quality. This fruit may help prevent gestational hypertension with its heart-friendly monounsaturated fats when consumed in the right amounts. It is also packed with lutein to keep you and your baby’s eyes healthy. The list of the benefits goes on, so you better get your avocado served today.
Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries contain antioxidants essential in flushing out toxins and free radicals from the body. A handful of berries will also give you a boost of vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium. You can try blending these for a delightful smoothie. Tossing some into your yogurt, cereal, or oats will also make a great combination.
When you hear or read the word potassium somewhere, the first fruit that will come to your mind is the banana. It is also rich in fiber, which may help ease constipation in pregnancy. Adding this to your diet may also reduce nausea because of the vitamin B6 present. Suggested serving per day is one to two pieces with a balanced diet, and unlike other fruits, you should eat bananas after meals.
Same with bananas, apples are also rich in fiber. It is also a good source of vitamin C and pectin, a prebiotic responsible for keeping your gut healthy. Apple is a good snack alone but can also be a good addition in pies, cakes, muffins, and many other recipes as an additional shot of nutrients.
Folic acid and vitamin B6 in mangoes help a lot with fetal brain and spine development. It also has a tremendous amount of vitamin C to boost your immunity. Being a high-calorie fruit, you may consider taking it in moderation to prevent weight gain and high sugar intake.
You may have at least a cup every day, make it a refreshment or turn it into a delightful dessert to satisfy your cravings.
2. Healthiest vegetable choices for you
Along with fruits, pregnant women are also encouraged to take lots of vegetables due to their high nutritional value. Mothers who switched to nutrient-dense foods mostly have their babies develop healthy birth weight and lesser complications. They are also far from developing gestational diabetes, hypertension, anemia, and preeclampsia.
You can prepare vegetables in a lot of ways. You can eat it fresh (be mindful of washing it thoroughly), sauté, boil, or you can blend it into a smoothie. These are the healthiest veggie options you can munch any time of the day:
The color itself shows how it contains generous amounts of beta-carotene. The body then does its work and converts it into vitamin A, vital for eye health and cell development responsible for maintaining your vital organs healthy. Eating carrots can also give you a load of antioxidants; plus, it is also good for the heart. You can finish a serving as a snack alone, make a vegetable salad or, as a fresh juice to satisfy your thirst.
Red Bell Pepper
You can munch out its crunchy texture, better dipped in your favorite dressing, sauté, make it candied, or stuff it to make it more enjoyable. Note that If you’re looking for a vitamin C and carotenoid bomb, red bell pepper is the one for you. Carotenoids may help prevent chronic diseases, particularly eye diseases and certain cancers. It is also an antioxidant to help cleanse your body from toxins and free radicals. 
This yummy vegetable can be prepared in many ways, making it easy to incorporate into your diet. Sweet potato is a must-eat during pregnancy due to its abundant health benefits. It is another good vitamin A source to help preserve your eye health and fiber to give you a healthier gut. It can also provide great help in normalizing blood sugar levels, keep your skin healthy and improve your immune system. Sweet potatoes are also rich in antioxidants to help make your skin healthier and glowing.
Stir-frying, microwaving and boiling broccolis cause it to lose certain nutrients, soluble proteins, and sugars. Steaming is the best way to cook it, as it showed the lowest nutrient loss among the cooking methods. This tree-looking vegetable is chock-full of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, protein, and B-vitamins, including folic acid, which is essential for your baby’s brain and spine development.
You can chop steamed or raw broccoli, put it in your salad, or have your pasta topped with it to give you additional nutrients.
Increased consumption of dark, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, and fruits may help avoid adverse pregnancy outcomes. These nutrient-rich foods are highly beneficial during pregnancy, from maternal to child health.  Leeks, kale, spinach, and other leafy vegetables are rich in folate. Adequate amounts of folic acid can help prevent up to 70% of spina bifida cases, a common birth malformation. 
Please put in mind that those leafy vegetables with darker colors contain more nutrients. So next time you go veggie-shopping, you know what’s the best pick.
3. Legumes to add to your plate
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly meat alternative, you may consider adding legumes to your meal plan. These are plant-based protein sources essential for fetal tissue development and the mother’s uterus, thus helping your baby’s organs get into proper shape. It also gives you a shot of carbohydrates to power you up. The following are some legumes that can help nourish you and the little one inside you.
This legume type is jam-packed with folic acid, protein, and iron, which lessens the risk of developing anemia during pregnancy. Some types of lentils are also rich in fiber that helps combat constipation, which is common among pregnant women. They often serve it as a soup flavored with garlic, herbs, and spices, but if you want to explore, you can find more delightful lentil recipes on the internet.
Peas are another low-fat protein source. They are also high in fiber, zinc, Vitamins A, C, and B-complex. Size doesn’t matter with these small but nutrient-rich food. Peas are also rich in lycopene, which lowers cholesterol and helps the heart function better, and an antioxidant that cleanses the body and boosts immunity.
You can easily incorporate peas into most recipes so next time you prepare a meal, try adding peas into the ingredients.
When preparing salads, soups, pasta, or stir-fried veggies, you can grab a handful of some beans like black, white, black-eyed, soy, or garbanzos to make your recipes healthier and even more flavorful. Each variety is as nutritious as the others. These can give you most of your much-needed nutrients like fiber, calcium, iron, folate, zinc, and of course, protein. Next time you prepare a grocery list, remember to include this superfood.
If you are not allergic or don’t have a family history of allergy to peanuts, it can be an excellent addition to your pregnancy diet. Some research also showed that eating nuts during early pregnancy stages reduces the infant’s risk of developing a nut allergy. 
You can mostly find peanuts in chocolates, cereals, and baked goods, but this protein and folate-rich food make a great snack alone when roasted.
4. Whole grains to power you up
Whole grains provide essential carbohydrates to fuel up your body for any additional work needed in certain pregnancy stages. It also contains fiber, B-vitamins, antioxidants, and certain minerals; that’s why you should consider making it a part of your meal plan. There is moderate evidence that the proper intake of these grains may help lessen the risk of obesity. In short, you can rely on the right amounts of grains to maintain your fit and healthy body.
5. Dairy products for a robust baby
Calcium is one of the most-needed nutrients during pregnancy, which dairy products offer you most.
Bones are the main foundation of the human body. It also protects our vital organs inside, serving as armor, which we should strengthen most. With enough calcium intake, you can ensure proper nourishment for your baby’s bones and teeth, from the hardness to appropriate structure. These are some dairy products you can eat to help meet your daily calcium requirement:
Maternal milk intake has a significant effect on fetal development. According to a study, drinking the right amounts of milk may help lessen the fetus’ risk of being small for gestational age (SGA). It can also improve birth weight, length, abdominal circumference, placental weight, and head circumference accordingly to the gestational age at birth. 
Milk delivers a load of calcium and phosphorus, essential for you and your baby’s developing bones. If you can’t have milk every day, you can opt for other calcium sources like vegetables.
Chilled yogurts are a great source of probiotics, better eaten with your favorite fruits. Tossing some berries in it makes a delectable and refreshing snack with additional vitamins. The probiotics or good bacteria present in yogurts are known for improving digestive health. Eating a cup of this will also provide a load of much-needed nutrients such as calcium and protein, which your developing child strongly requires.
This yummy food may have a calming effect on pregnant women because of its creamy texture and cold temperature. If you feel sad or anxious today, fetch a cup of yogurt and see it for yourself.
You can still satisfy your cheese cravings during pregnancy but remember that cheese made with pasteurized milk is the safest option. When buying, you should always be mindful of reading labels and make sure the milk used is “pasteurized” to prevent possible contamination.
Like most dairy products, cheese gives you a load of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Including it in your diet is excellent, but make sure to be mindful of the safest varieties to consume.
6. Lean meat to meet your protein needs
Pork, beef, and chicken meats are an efficient source of protein. These proteins nourish you and your baby’s bones, muscles, hair, nails, and skin.
Pregnant women tend to get hungry in just a short time, and these meats take longer digestion time, making it a great way of satisfying your hunger. Starting from the early stages of your pregnancy, you need enough protein to make sure your baby’s tissues and organs are developing well, along with the brain. Protein can also help repair damaged tissues, making it essential even after giving birth to help the mother’s body heal and recover.
7. Fish and Seafood, are they worth the risk?
Certain fish and seafood are superfoods for pregnancy. However, pregnant women should be extra-careful to prepare it properly and choose which kind to eat. Salmon, shrimp, pollock, catfish, scallops, and sardines are considered safe. Still, due to possible mercury contamination, they are only allowed to take two (2) 6-ounce servings per week, which is enough to give them their DHA and EPA or omega-3 fatty acid needs. The DHA derived from fish and seafood are essential for the baby’s retina and brain development from 3rd trimester up to its 18th month of being born. 
Fish, which is known to be a great source of protein, can ensure your baby’s good tissue and organ health and can also improve blood circulation from you up to your baby. Please note that sushi and other raw or uncooked fish and oysters are better not eaten because certain types of bacteria or parasites may be present and could harm your unborn child.
8. Dried fruits, a healthy go-to snack
Dried fruits mostly have the same amount of nutrients as fresh ones, and they are smaller and more convenient to pack. Another thing good about them is that they have a longer shelf life, unlike the fresh fruits, which can rot after a certain period.
These are healthy and delectable if taken in moderation. Always choose those that are not candied because too much sugar intake may lead to health problems.
9. Eggs for ‘eggs-tra’ protein
Eggs are easily accessible- you can find them almost anywhere, so there isn’t any reason to leave them out of your meal plan. These eggs can give you a particular load of protein and heart-healthy amino acids, vital in many aspects of fetal development.
You can prepare eggs in many ways; you can boil, fry, or make them an additional ingredient to your favorite recipes. When cooking, make sure that the whites, especially the yolks, are cooked thoroughly. Eating raw or uncooked eggs during pregnancy is a big NO because they may be contaminated and harm the mother and the baby.
10. The Power of Water
Water serves as a fuel to help keep our body going and functioning right. Adequate water intake is one thing a pregnant woman should always secure because dehydration or excessive hydration may cause complications and certain fetal deficiencies. It is also essential in flushing out toxins and cleansing the urinary tract to prevent infections, which is a higher risk during pregnancy. Always see to it that you replace the fluids that come out of your body to maintain enough hydration.
According to some research, enough water intake can improve your amniotic fluid index. Having adequate amniotic fluid plays a vital role in your baby’s development, which also serves as a layer of your baby’s protection inside the womb.
The required water intake for an average person is eight (8) 8-ounce glasses. However, pregnant women should drink ten (10) 8-ounce glasses of water then after giving birth, and lactating mothers should increase their intake by up to thirteen (13) glasses to help with milk production.
The right food choice on your pregnancy journey significantly affects your developing child. It will somehow define your birth outcome, so sticking to a healthy meal plan will not only make your big day more manageable and safer, but it will also assure your little one’s readiness as you introduce them to the outer world. Pregnancy is only the first chapter of motherhood. Always remember that aside from providing your baby’s daily nutrient needs, they also need love and care as they grow. With these altogether, you will surely raise a good child and a great addition to society.
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