Everything you put into your mouth affects the health of your unborn baby, so figuring out what to eat during pregnancy is important. All of the foods you put into your body should be full of nutrients to help give your baby the best start in life. Here are some nutrient-rich foods to eat when you are expecting.
Foods That Contain Folic Acid and Calcium
Folic acid is a vital nutrient to have during the early stages of pregnancy. Most experts recommend women start implementing folic acid into their diets prior to conceiving. Ignoring these recommendations can lead to serious complications for your unborn baby.
Babies who are not exposed to proper amounts of folic acid during the early stages of pregnancy are at risk for being born with a neural tube defect known as spina bifida. Babies who are born with this condition can suffer from paralysis, incontinence and mental retardation.
Spina bifida usually develops in babies within the first 28 days after conception, so it’s essential for pregnant mothers to take prenatal vitamins and eat foods that are rich in folic acid. It is suggested that expecting mothers get at least 600 mcg of folic acid each day. Foods that contain folic acid include citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts and beans.
Calcium is important for the development of healthy bones. When you’re pregnant your unborn baby will pull calcium from your body in order to meet his nutritional needs. Eating calcium-rich foods during pregnancy will ensure your baby has all the calcium he needs for healthy bone development.
Foods that are rich in calcium include black beans, almonds, hazelnuts, cauliflower, broccoli, salmon, chickpeas, cabbage, oranges and okra. You can also get calcium from drinking raw milk.
Foods That Contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Protein
Omega-3 is essential for the development of your baby’s brain, retinas and nerves. Infants who don’t get enough of this nutrient in the womb have an increased risk of nerve damage, developmental delays and vision problems. Getting enough omega-3 can also reduce the risk of preterm labor and preeclampsia.
Babies who are exposed to adequate amounts of omega-3 in the womb sleep better during the night sooner than babies who are not exposed to enough of this nutrient. Omega-3 in your diet during pregnancy can also reduce your child’s risks of developmental delays and behavioral problems later down the line.
Since the body can’t make omega-3, it is important that you get this nutrient from the foods you eat. Some good sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds, wild salmon, sardines and walnuts.
Protein is vitally important during the second trimester of pregnancy because your baby is growing at a rapid rate. This nutrient is the building block of your unborn baby’s body because it aids in the growth of muscles, internal organs, fingers, toes and hair. Foods that are rich in protein include fish, natural meats, poultry and organic eggs.
Foods That Are Rich in Iron
Your unborn baby depends solely on you to provide him with the iron he needs to produce hemoglobin and transport oxygen to the cell. The body absorbs iron more efficiently when you are pregnant, so it is important that you get enough of this mineral to meet the needs of both you and your fetus.
Eat plenty of iron-rich foods to maintain your iron stores. Foods that are rich in this mineral include natural beef, lentils, green veggies, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas and beans.
Filling your body with wholesome foods during pregnancy will help you stay healthy and give your baby all the nutrients he needs to develop properly in the womb.