Eating well during pregnancy is essential and the guidelines for eating well for a healthy pregnancy are simple and easy to follow. Healthy eating keeps the mother safe throughout pregnancy and provides baby the essential nutrients they need inside the uterus.
Folic acid is a pregnancy is essential for brain growth of baby. Taking a prenatal vitamin with the recommended 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects. Deficiency of Folic acid in pregnancy leads to severe malformations of the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beans, citrus fruits and liver.
The lack of calcium, iron, iodine and other vitamins lead to baby’s learning disabilities, delay in language development, behavioural problems, delayed motor skill development, and a lower I.Q. Fresh fruit contains lots of essential vitamins and nutrients and eating plenty of fresh fruit during pregnancy can help wellbeing of mother and baby. Broccoli and dark, green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium which are essential in pregnancy.
Dietary fibres in pregnancy
Dietary fibre is a nutrient that cannot get digested by human gastrointestinal tract. It absorbs water and helps bowel movements. Insoluble fibre like vegetables (especially dark green leafy ones), root vegetable skins, fruit skins, whole wheat products are essential during pregnancy to prevent constipation. Soluble fibres absorb water, bind to fatty acids and slow down sugar absorption. Some types of soluble fibre are: kidney beans, sprouts, broccoli, spinach, apple, orange, grapefruit, grapes, prunes, grains, oatmeal etc.
Calcium in Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant or feeding baby require 1,200 to 1,400 milligrams calcium a day. Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are some of the best sources of calcium. Healthy dietary practices to promote adequate calcium intake through local calcium-rich foods should be encouraged in the general population, including pregnant women.
Vitamin D the “sunshine vitamin”, is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. It can either be obtained in the diet, through food and dietary supplements, or synthesised in the skin upon exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D plays a role in calcium and phosphorus balance important in bone health, and nerve and muscle activity.
Proteins during Pregnancy
More protein is needed during pregnancy for a healthy brain development in the baby. When expectant mothers consume sufficient amounts of the nutrient choline during pregnancy, their offspring gain enduring cognitive benefits. This can be obtained from dairy products, egg, meat or fish.
Dairy products contain two types of high quality protein: casein and whey. Dairy is the best dietary source of calcium, and provides high amounts of phosphorus, various B-vitamins, magnesium and zinc.