It’s no secret that eating well during pregnancy is important. You want to ensure you get all the nutrients and vitamins you need to grow a healthy baby.
Eating well during your pregnancy is more beneficial than you think. Here are some reasons why it’s so important for pregnant women to eat right:
It Helps Prevent Premature Birth
Eating well can help prevent premature birth by helping your body produce more blood cells. This helps ensure that your baby has enough oxygen in their system when they come out into this world. If you have anemia or low iron levels, you may be at risk of having a preterm delivery. Anemia affects about one-third of pregnancies. So if you don’t get adequate nutrition throughout your pregnancy, you could end up with a tiny baby who needs extra care after they come out.
If you want to avoid giving birth prematurely, then you need to start preparing early on. Studies suggest that consuming certain nutrients such as folate, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, and calcium can reduce the likelihood of delivering too soon. Folate is essential since it plays a role in making DNA molecules.
Magnesium is essential for maintaining proper nerve function and muscle contraction. Zinc aids in cell division and growth. Calcium promotes fetal bone development. Vitamin B12 supports red blood cells and helps prevent anemia. If you don’t get enough of any of them, your body won’t do its job correctly. So, if you plan on having kids someday, now would be a perfect time to start taking care of your own needs first!
It Can Help Reduce Risk Of Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects affect around 1% of babies born each year. They include conditions like Tetralogy of Fallot, Atrial Septal Defect, Ventricular Septal Defect, Pulmonary Stenosis, Coarctation of Aorta, Transposition of Great Arteries, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, etc. These problems can cause serious health issues later on in life. Some people even die from these types of congenital heart defects before reaching adulthood. However, studies show that children whose mothers ate better while pregnant had fewer cases of CHDs than those whose moms didn’t eat properly.
It May Improve The Quality Of Breast Milk For Baby
Breast milk contains many different kinds of beneficial substances which will benefit both mom and baby. One study found that breastfeeding was associated with lower rates of asthma, ear infections, diabetes, obesity, sudden infant death syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and possibly cancer. In addition, breastfed infants were less likely to develop allergies and respiratory tract infections. There’s also evidence that suggests that breastmilk might protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
It Improves Maternal Health And Weight Gain
When you’re expecting, you’ll probably notice that you gain weight much faster than normal. That’s because your growing fetus takes up space inside your uterus. When you eat nutritious foods, you give yourself the energy needed to go through this process without feeling tired. Plus, you’ll feel healthier overall since good food gives you lots of energy. Also, eating well can improve maternal health. Research shows that women who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables tend to experience fewer complications during labor and childbirth. Women who consume high amounts of fiber also seem to have shorter labors and deliveries.
It Keeps Babies Healthy
If you’ve been reading my blog posts over the past few years, you know I’m not just talking about what kind of diet you should follow during pregnancy; I am actually advocating for a whole lifestyle change. You see, there are so many benefits to eating healthy all day long. Not only does it make you look great, but it makes sure that you stay fit and strong as you grow bigger and larger every single month. As far as keeping your baby healthy goes, here is something else to consider: research shows that babies fed formula instead of human breast milk are twice as likely to suffer from eczema and other skin disorders.
It Makes Mom Feel Better
Eating right doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself or go hungry. Instead, try to focus more on enjoying delicious meals rather than worrying about how they impact your waistline. This way, you’ll find it easier to stick to a balanced meal plan when you’re pregnant. Remember, you deserve to enjoy some treats once in a while. Ensure that you maintain a healthy balance between carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fluids.
It helps prevent gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes occurs in up to 25% of pregnancies worldwide. GDM can lead to complications for both mother and fetus if not treated properly. In fact, women who have had GDM are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on in life. The good news is that there are ways to avoid this condition altogether! By following a nutritious diet plan, you may be able to reduce your chances of having GDM by as much as 50%.
It keeps you leaner.
A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and seeds will help keep you from gaining weight throughout your pregnancy.
It prevents heart disease.
Heart disease has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity level, and genetics. Women who eat a healthier diet tend to weigh less and exercise more regularly, which means they are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, stroke, and hypertension. 4) It reduces stress.
When we feel stressed out, our bodies release cortisol into our bloodstreams. Cortisol causes us to crave foods rich in sugar and fat because these substances give us energy. However, studies show that people who consume diets rich in fiber and antioxidants experience lower cortisol than those who eat unhealthy food.
It improves sleep quality.
Studies show that pregnant women who ate breakfast were better rested after lunchtime than those who skipped breakfast. Also, researchers discovered that women who consumed fewer calories slept longer and deeper than those who ate large portions of food. When you wake up feeling tired, you might think that skipping meals will solve the problem. But, in reality, going without food could cause you to become even more exhausted. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that women who fasted experienced higher levels of fatigue and anxiety than those who didn’t skip meals.
It boosts immunity.
Pregnant women often complain of being sickly. They say that they always catch colds and flu while others around them seem fine. While it’s true that most adults aren’t immune to illness, pregnant women are naturally prone to catching infections due to changes in hormones and metabolism. To boost your overall health, you must ensure that you take advantage of all available resources. One such resource is eating well during your pregnancy. You need to stay hydrated, get enough rest, and eat nutrient-dense foods so that you can fight off any illnesses that come along. 7) It makes labor shorter.
Pregnant women usually spend hours upon hours pushing down on their bellies to deliver babies. If you want to shorten the time spent laboring, then you should start preparing your body now. Research shows that consuming adequate nutrients before delivery speeds up contractions and shortens the length of labor.
It promotes fetal growth.
Your baby depends on you to provide them with everything they require to grow. As long as you follow a proper diet, you won’t only increase their chance of survival but also promote optimal brain development.
It ensures a safe delivery.
Women who eat well are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Those who do face symptoms of depression are more likely to seek medical attention.
But what about the other aspects of your diet? Are you eating enough protein or too much fat? What about carbs? How do you balance it all out? This article will discuss some of the things you should consider when planning your meals during pregnancy.
Protein: The Basics
You may be surprised at how little protein you actually get in most prenatal supplements. Protein is an essential nutrient for growing babies. It helps build muscle tissue, which can help with strength and endurance and support bone growth. A good source of protein includes lean meats like chicken breast, turkey, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, eggs, dairy foods such as milk and cheese, and even tofu. If you don’t eat meat, try adding more legumes to your diet instead. They’re high in fiber and low in saturated fats.
Fat: The Good Kind
You probably know by now that there’s not one type of fat that’s “good” or “bad.” Instead, we have different types of fatty acids that affect our bodies differently. Omega-3 FAs are considered beneficial because they reduce inflammation throughout the body, while omega-6 FAs promote inflammation. Some studies suggest that women who consume higher omega-3 FAs tend to give birth to healthier infants than those whose diets contain fewer omega-3 FAs. So if you aren’t already taking a daily supplement containing these oils, start doing so! There are many brands on the market today; look for ones that include DHA and EPA.
Carbs: Getting Them In Check
When you think about carbohydrates, you might automatically assume that you only need them after working out. However, this isn’t true. Carbohydrates provide energy for your muscles and brain cells. When you exercise, your body uses up its glycogen stores—the storage form of carbohydrates found in your liver and muscles. After exercising, your body needs glucose to replenish itself. That means you’ll also need to fuel yourself before, during, and after workouts. Carbs come from fruits, vegetables, grains, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, starchy veggies, honey, molasses, maple syrup, and yogurt. Try to keep your intake around 50 grams per day.
Calcium: Making Sure You Get Enough
If you haven’t been consuming adequate calcium since becoming pregnant, then chances are you won’t meet the recommended amount until later in the third trimester. Calcium supports strong bones and teeth, along with helping prevent preterm labor. Most experts recommend 1,000 milligrams of supplemental calcium each day. Dairy products are great sources of calcium, but you can find plenty of alternatives, including leafy greens, almonds, broccoli, sardines, salmon, fortified juices, and orange juice. Be careful, though, because too much calcium can cause constipation, cramps, and nausea.
Iron: Keeping Up With Iron Levels
Women lose iron through menstruation, childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause. As long as you continue to produce red blood cells, you’ll always maintain normal hemoglobin levels, the oxygen-carrying molecule inside your bloodstream. Heme contains iron, which makes up approximately 2 percent of total human proteins. Women typically require anywhere between 18 and 30 mg of iron every day. Menstruating women should aim for 20 mg, nonpregnant women 15 mg, and postmenopausal women 8 mg. Foods rich in iron include beef, pork, poultry, seafood, spinach, lentils, blackstrap molasses, dried fruit, raisins, prunes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, dark chocolate, and oatmeal.
Vitamin B12: Supporting Healthy Nerves
This vitamin is important for healthy nerves, skin, hair, eyes, immune system function, and metabolism. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to fatigue, depression, memory loss, heart disease, diabetes, nerve damage, and other health problems. To ensure optimal absorption of this vital nutrient, take it orally once a week. Sources include animal products like egg yolks, tuna, shrimp, clams, crabmeat, and cheeses. Vegetables like kale, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, mushrooms, peas, green beans, collards, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, sweet potato, squash, carrots, and rutabaga all contain small amounts of B12.
Folate: Boosting Maternal Health
Moms-to-be often overlooks folate when thinking about their nutrition plan. This water-soluble vitamin plays a role in DNA synthesis and cell division, both necessary processes for fetal development. Folic acid supplementation helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, by preventing these conditions at conception or early stages of pregnancy. The daily recommendation ranges from 400 micrograms to 800 micrograms, depending on age and weight. Good food choices include citrus fruits, legumes, nuts, eggs, milk, meat, fish, soybeans, tofu, and enriched cereals.
Zinc: Promoting Fetal Development
Zinc’s primary functions are structural support and enzyme regulation. It’s essential for the proper growth and maintenance of tissues throughout the body. A lack of zinc may lead to low birthweight babies, premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant mortality. For most moms-to-be, however, there’s no reason to worry. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Adequate dietary intakes of zinc appear safe.” In fact, many prenatal vitamins already have added zinc.
In conclusion, eating well during pregnancy can help prevent nutritional deficiencies that could harm your baby. If you’re concerned about any specific nutrients, talk with your doctor before making changes to your diet. You might also want to consider taking a multivitamin supplement containing folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, and cobalt. These minerals play key roles in maintaining good maternal health.