Get a Good Start with Good Nutrition

Raya Beerbower, MRH Dietetic Intern

There are certain nutrients that women need to include more of in their diet while pregnant. These nutrients are essential for the baby’s growth and development. They also prevent health complications from occurring in the womb and even several years after. This is why mom’s-to-be should focus on good nutrition during this time.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, there a few key nutrients that help make a healthy baby and mom!

Pregnant women need more protein during pregnancy.

  • Protein is vital to a baby’s growth and development. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, peas, lentils, seeds, beans, peanut butter, and tofu are great protein sources. Pregnant women should consume at least three servings of protein daily.

  • These protein food sources also include iron which is especially important during pregnancy because a mom’s iron needs increase heavily during this time. Iron helps carry oxygen to the baby for its growth and development and to the mom’s muscles to help avoid symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, irritability, and depression. Nuts and dried fruit are other great non-meat sources of iron.

Pregnant women need more calcium and vitamin D during pregnancy.

  • Calcium is important for the baby’s bones and teeth to develop properly and reduces the mother’s risk of preeclampsia, a serious condition in which blood pressure increases suddenly. Since a developing baby requires a considerable amount of calcium, the mom’s body will take calcium from her bones. This can lead to problems such as osteoporosis and fractures down the road. Try drinking milk or eating cheese, ice cream, pudding, and yogurt. Don’t like or don’t tolerate dairy? Spinach, kale, and collard greens are also good sources of calcium. At least 1000 mg of calcium is needed daily to support a pregnancy.

  • Adequate Vitamin D is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium. Salmon, red meat, and eggs are examples of foods containing vitamin D. Getting outside a few minutes every day in the sunshine helps the body make its own vitamin D.

Pregnant women need more folic acid during (and before) pregnancy.

  • Folic acid helps prevent certain congenital disorders of the brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida. Dark green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green peas, dark/leafy lettuce, and turnips are great folic acid sources. Many grain products, such as bread and cereal, are enriched with folic acid. Pregnant women, or women who are planning a pregnancy, should consume at least 0.4 mg of folic acid each day.

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