Your pregnancy diet plan is about more than just the right foods to eat while pregnant. You should also be concerned about getting the right kinds of supplements in the correct amounts. In doing so, you can give your baby everything she needs to develop and grow into a healthy infant.
Proper supplementation will also help keep you healthy and strong throughout the next nine months. A good prenatal vitamin should be part of your daily routine, but you should also make sure you are getting adequate amounts of these four vitamins and minerals:
Folic acid is important during pregnancy because it is essential to the development of your baby’s neural tube, also known as the spinal cord. One of the most common biurth defects involving the spinal cord is spina bifida, in which the cord fails to close properly. This leaves the nerves exposed, causing a range of health and developmental problems.
Before pregnancy, you should be taking 400mcg of folic acid. Once you conceive, you should increase this amount to 600mcg. Some prenatal vitamins contain as much as 800mcg. As with many supplements, more is not always better, so consult with your OB/GYN if you are taking more than 1000mcg daily.
Calcium is crucial to the development of strong, healthy bones. But if you neglect to increase your calcium intake during pregnancy, it could have serious consequences for your own health. Your body prioritizes your baby’s development, and if you aren’t taking enough calcium for the two of you, the baby will leach the calcium she needs from your own bones. This will, of course, negatively affect your bone density.
To keep this problem from occurring, you should take a calcium supplement and eat foods high in calcium. Organic, all-natural dairy products do contain calcium, but non-dairy products contain it as well. To add variety, as well as calcium, to your diet, try okra, oranges, cabbage, green beans, chickpeas, black beans, salmon, almonds, hazelnuts, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Iron helps to carry oxygen in the blood, for both mother and child. Prior to pregnancy, a woman needs 15mg of iron daily. After pregnancy, her need increases to 30-50mg, especially from the 20th week of pregnancy on.
Most women are iron-deficient before pregnancy and the problem is exacerbated, which is why anemia is such a common pregnancy complaint. Aside from taking an iron supplement, you should eat foods such as lean, all-natural beef, pumpkin seeds, beans and chick peas, lentils, and green vegetables to increase your iron consumption.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have a profound effect on the development of your baby as well as on your own health during pregnancy. Omega-3s help your baby to form her retinas, build her brain, and develop her nervous system. The positive effect of Omega-3s goes beyond your baby’s development while you are pregnant.
Babies who received adequate amounts of Omega-3s during pregnancy have been proven to have longer attention spans than babies who did not receive Omega-3s. This change lasts well into the second year of life.
For expectant mothers, Omega-3s can help prevent preeclampsia, can minimize your chance of preterm labor, and can help reduce your risk for postpartum depression. You should get at least 250mg of Omega-3s throughout your pregnancy.
Foods high in Omega-3s include organic eggs, dark green vegetables, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. Certain types of fish contain high levels of Omega-3s as well, but you need to be sure to watch the mercury levels.
Sardines, anchovies, and salmon all contain high levels of Omega-3s but are relatively low in mercury, so you can enjoy them in two six-ounce portions twice a week. A high-quality fish oil supplement is beneficial as well.
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