It’s National Nutrition Month and what better time to learn the best nutrients your body needs during pregnancy? After all, your body goes through numerous physiological changes as well as hormonal.
Lack of proper nourishment during these pivotal nine months of pregnancy can be critical to you and your baby’s health. Adhering to some simple dietary guidelines can increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Macro and Micro Nutrients
Consuming the right amount of calories comes down to what you eat. Moms need to make sure they’re getting the right macronutrients (macros). Macros refer to the caloric intake of foods that provide energy such as carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Macronutrients are required in large amounts in order to provide energy to the body. Moms also needs to focus on micronutrients, which refer to the vitamins and minerals required for our bodies to function.
Foods that contain both macro and micronutrients are: fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and dairy. The estimated breakdown of complex carbohydrates, “good fat,” and protein required are as follows:
- 45 to 65 percent of complex carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables, oats, brown rice, millet, and quinoa.
- 15 to 20 percent of “good” fat such as nuts: sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin, and chia. Avocados contain good fat as well as Salmon.
- 20 to 25 percent of protein such as meats, fish, nuts, dairy, grains, nuts, and soy.
What To Eat & How Much
A Variety of healthy foods is essential while pregnant.These can be sourced from vitamin and mineral dense foods such as kale, spinach, seaweed, salmon, and blueberries, all of which are loaded with nutrients, to red meat that's packed with macro and micronutrients. In fact, protein is a critical component to fetal tissue development including the brain.
Protein is also responsible for uterine tissue and breast tissue growth while pregnant, not to mention protein helps to increase blood supply to the growing fetus.
Protein sources to consider:
Nutritional experts suggest three servings of protein per day.
- Lean beef or pork
- Cottage Cheese
- Peanut Butter
Along with protein it’s recommended to eat five servings worth of calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs as well as folate-rich foods. Folate or folic acid is recommended to be taken as a supplement throughout pregnancy. There are also foods such as liver, dried beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, peanut butter, and dark leafy greens that are high in folate. Pregnant women are suggested to take 600 to 800 micrograms of folate or folic acid. Folate is known to help reduce the chances of birth defects and developmental disabilities. Studies show that consuming folate or folic acid helps prevent congenital disabilities by 70 percent.
Iron is also very important in pregnancy because it helps create extra blood and send oxygen to both Mommy and baby. Approximately 50 percent of pregnant women don’t consume enough iron in their diet. Iron deficiency can also cause anemia which can lead to a baby being born too small.
Although it’s hard to say no to processed foods, simple sugars, and junk food, in the long run, it's better for baby and Mommy to eat healthy throughout the pregnancy. Saying no to cravings for foods that aren’t good for you also helps with weight management. Along with eating right, regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight plus improve your postpartum health and increase your chances of weight loss after birth.
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Medical Disclaimer: Articles are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. Ask your medical professional if you have any health-related questions or concerns.