Congratulations! The big news has arrived, and you are now all set to begin those nine months of pampering and care!
As much as you are excited, there will be a thousand questions running through your mind, especially those that concern you and your to-be-born baby’s health.
One of the biggest queries that most expectant moms have is what to eat during those nine months. Everything that you eat now will directly affect your baby’s growth in the womb. Post-delivery, what you eat will help provide nourishment to your baby, while you breastfeed your baby.
Today we’ll give you some suggestions on healthy food to eat while pregnant that you should follow for your health and your unborn baby’s development too.
Dairy products are first on the list of food to eat during pregnancy! As calcium intake is a must during pregnancy. Include low-fat or skimmed milk, paneer, yogurt, lassi or buttermilk. These are not only rich in calcium but also in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Milk is also considered to improve digestion and appetite in pregnant women. However if you have issues with milk-based products, consult your doctor about how you would replace dairy products for enough calcium intake. Calcium is necessary when you are pregnant as it helps in the bone and teeth development of your little one. Drink 2-3 glasses of milk each day.
Pregnant ladies should include at least six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Plan your meals accordingly. Fruits and veggies are very rich in all vitamins minerals and fibers. Not only that they are also a good source of Vitamin C which is good for both you and your baby. Vitamin C strengthens gums and tissues, helps in healing wounds fast and also helps in absorbing iron.
Have enough of berries, oranges, apples, melons, strawberry, papaya, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and cabbage. During your meals, keep a plate of green salad.
Eating a variety of colorful fruits during pregnancy ensures that the growing baby gets all the essential antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, kale and spinach are an excellent source of folate, minerals and Vitamins C, K and A.
The main minerals that are vital for pregnancy are as follows:
Include enough proteins in your diet. Have lean meat (excluding liver), fish, eggs, beans and sprouts. Have fish 2-3 three times a week. Include sea fish like sardines and tuna in your diet. These fish are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are one of those healthy fats. It has been found that omega-3 fats are needed for brain and eye development of your unborn child.
Omega-3 fats are responsible for a faster development of your child’s brain. Other than that omega-3 fats also prevent the chances of asthma and allergies at a later age.
Always cook eggs, fish, and meat properly before eating. Cook eggs in such a way that both the white portion and yolk becomes hard. Only then it is properly cooked. Uncooked or semi-cooked foods may contain bacteria which may result in food poisoning. It may also poison your baby’s blood.
Beans and pulses are a must have when it comes to a healthy pregnancy diet. They are rich in proteins and fibers and also some essential nutrients like zinc, iron, folate and calcium. Add beans and sprouts to your salads, soups or noodles and pasta. Kidney beans, soya beans, lobia, all pulses are really good for you and your baby’s health.
Nuts and seeds being rich in fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are a must in your diet. Whenever you feel hungry in between meals, have a fistful of almonds, cashew, walnuts or pistachios. Nuts are a good source of Vitamin E and all Vitamin Bs. Other than that they are stuffed with some excellent minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc etc, which are good for your growing fetus. But remember that although nuts are good for you and your baby’s health, but having lots of them will add to your weight which may be difficult to cut down later; and also do not have oil-fried nuts. Oil-fried nuts have unhealthy calories and lots of sodium. It’s good to have them raw always.
Now for the seeds, consider having pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax seeds. These seeds are super rich in minerals, vitamin Bs and fiber. Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fats. You can have flax seeds either whole or grind them to a fine powder and mix with milk.
Berries need a special mention and it should take a special place in your pregnancy diet chart. Berries are good in folate, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. If you don’t like berries start liking them because they are good for the developing fetus. You can top your cereals with berries or eat them fresh. But always wash them thoroughly before eating. Black berries, blueberries, strawberries or raspberries, any variety of berries are good for you.
Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fats and protein. These essential fats help in the development of baby’s brain and eyes. Salmon is also good for meeting the protein requirement of pregnant mothers. However, it is advised to limit your salmon intake to six ounces weekly.
Sweet potatoes contain nutritious fiber, potassium, iron, copper, Vitamin C and B6, and beta carotene. Eating sweet potatoes can single handedly meet your iron requirement. Get your taste buds rolling by eating baked, mashed or even deep fried sweet potatoes.
If you had been avoiding red meat for so long due to the fear of weight gain, there’s news. This is the time to have some lean red meat. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein that is essential for baby’s development during the last trimesters. It is not only rich in proteins but also iron. Iron carries oxygen to your baby’s brain. Eating lean pork and beef will also give expectant mothers extra dose of Vitamin B and iron.
Just as you have to know what you should eat during pregnancy, you need to also know what you should NOT eat during pregnancy. Here is a list of ‘Don’ts’ for a healthy pregnancy.
There are quite a number of fruits that you need to avoid during pregnancy.
a. Papaya tops the list. In some countries, having papaya during pregnancy is considered harmful for the baby. Many may think it as superstition, but even science has proved that raw and semi-ripe papayas being rich in latex cause uterine contractions and thereby early labor. However on the other hand, consuming fully ripe papayas when pregnant is excellent.
b. Pineapples should also be avoided as they contain bromelain and may lead to softening of cervix and early labor.
c. Grapes should be avoided in the last trimester. It may lead to increase in body heat.
Coffee might have been your stress-buster all these years but not anymore, at least not during your pregnancy. Cut down on coffee and other caffeinated drinks altogether. Past studies have shown that too much of caffeine in your diet may lead to miscarriages, retardation of growth in baby and underweight babies. Also caffeine slows down the absorption of iron in your body which may lead to anemia.
So avoid, tea, coffee, soda or any aerated drinks.
The toxoplasma gondii parasite and listeria bacteria often hide in fruits and vegetables.
The top must-not-eat food during pregnancy is raw, uncooked fish.
Raw, undercooked meats are avoided at all times in life, much more so during pregnancy.
Don’t even think of bringing alcohol near you when you are pregnant. It is like a poison to your unborn baby. The amount of alcohol you will be consuming will travel through placenta to your baby’s blood. Your baby may have permanent health issues.
In European countries, it is quite a tradition to celebrate any good news over a glass or two of wine. We Indians have also adapted it, but for the sake of your baby bid all alcohol good-bye.
Just avoid them these nine months. You don’t know what is happening inside the restaurant kitchen; even if they are washing the veggies and meat or not. So better avoid than risk your baby’s health.
Pasteurization is the process that food, juices and other fluids are put through to kill bacteria and other germs. The juices that you find at the stands and stalls are not put through this process and even some sold at the shelves of your super market. Always check the label before buying. Such juices can spread contaminants to your baby too which is definitely not good for your unborn baby!
Having raw eggs can lead to food poisoning.
Needless to say, unpasteurized milk and cheese may again give you food poisoning that can potentially harm you and your fetus.
Soft cheese which is imported is made from unpasteurized milk and may contain bacteria. These include feta cheese, gorgonzola and all other Mexican style cheeses. Avoid them.
For the simple reason that it might be too old and the water content may harbor harmful bacteria, avoid all canned food during pregnancy. Further, the lining in cans often contains Bisphenol A (BPA) which affects endocrine activity and harms the fetus.
The effect of herbal supplements on pregnancy is somewhat disputed.
Every cigarette you smoke is harmful for your baby. The nicotine present in tobacco slows fetal growth giving birth to low-weight and pre-mature babies.
As with all dairy products, homemade cookies may be raw and cause food poisoning and bacterial infections. The same is true with homemade ice-creams also. Avoid the homemade ones, and instead, give in to your craving by having it from a reputed brand once in a while.
Too much fat is never welcome. It holds good even in the case of pregnancy.
Always remember that the golden rule is, when in doubt, consult your doctor.
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful phases of a woman’s life, so relax, stay calm and keep these simple dos and don’ts in mind. It will help you stay healthy, while giving your baby all the very best in health and making delivery easier.
We wish you all the very best and do let us know once the little bundle of joy arrives!