THE FIRST 1000 DAYS
Nutrition During Pregnancy
It is essential to have a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. This article will mainly focus on what kind of nutrition women should have while expecting. It is recommended that approximately 300 extra calories are needed per day to maintain a healthy pregnancy. These extra calories must come from a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains. Fats and sweets should be kept at a minimum. A balanced and healthy diet can help reduce pregnancy symptoms like nausea and constipation. It is important to keep oneself hydrated by drinking several glasses of water per day and avoid alcohol.
Vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cooked greens, spinach, and tomatoes provide vitamin A and potassium. Mangoes, prunes, banana, oranges, and apricots contain potassium. Dairy products like fat-free yogurt or skim milk contain calcium, vitamins A and D, and potassium. Vitamin D is vital for maintaining maternal calcium homeostasis for the fetus' bone development. Spending time outdoors helps provide one with a good supply of vitamin D. Ready to eat breakfast cereals have fortified high levels of calcium.
Such cereals or cooked cereals also provide one with iron and folic acid. Folic acid has been found to lower the risk of neural tube defects and other congenital disabilities if they have started before conception. These defects occur in the brain and the spinal; they can lead to varying degrees of incontinence, paralysis, and at times, intellectual disability. Fortified breakfast cereals can be consumed for folic acid intake. Additionally, leafy green vegetables, berries, nuts, and vitamin supplements can be consumed.
In terms of proteins, it is important to intake beans, peas, nuts and seeds, and lamb. Walnuts, fortified eggs, and fish contain what is called omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is essential for retinal and neural development. It is important to note that DHA is critical for brain development, and higher levels of it in babies are associated with increased scores on visual and neural tests. Conversely, there are certain foods to be avoided during pregnancy. Unpasteurized milk and products made with it, raw and undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat should not be consumed.
As one can see, various foods provide one with essential nutrients required for a healthy pregnancy. There seems to be a pattern, as well. Some of the vital nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy are folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. But, overall, it is necessary to maintain a well-balanced diet when one is expecting. Additionally, one should exercise regularly and have an appropriate and timely mineral and vitamin supplementation.
Note: This is a generic guide only. Please consult your gynecologist for a healthy meal that suits you.
Cox, J. T., & Phelan, S. T. (2008). Nutrition During Pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America, 35(3), 369–383. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2008.04.001
Koletzko, B., Godfrey, K. M., Poston, L., Szajewska, H., van Goundoever, J. B., de Waard, M.,Brands, B., Grivell, R. M., Deussen, A. R., Dodd, J. M., Patro- Golab, B. & Zalewski, B. J. (2019). Nutrition During Pregnancy, Lactation and Early Childhood and its Implications for Maternal and Long-Term Child Health: The Early Nutrition Project Recommendations, 74, 93- 106. DOI: 10.1159/000496471
Nutrition During Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/nutrition-during-pregnancy
Nutrition During Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=nutrition-during-pregnancy-85-P01227