Nutrition During Pregnancy
Nutrition During Pregnancy
During your pregnancy, eating a well balanced diet that’s high in nutrients is very important to ensure that your body and your baby are in good health throughout the term. It’s up to you as a mother to provide the correct foods to your baby. It’s important not to give your baby too much or too little of one source, and to maintain the proper protein, iron, fiber, calcium, and carbohydrate levels within your own body.
Understanding the difference between servings and helpings is very important: a helping equals two servings. For example, two standard servings would be a sandwich with two slices of bread or one cup of pasta. A helping is more or less a meal, whereas a serving can be considered a snack.
The Five Food Groups
We’ve been learning about the five main food groups since we were kids ourselves. The famous pyramid comes to mind when you think of the term “five food groups.” Breads, Fruits, Vegetables, Meats, and Dairy provide essential nutrients to both mom and baby during and after the pregnancy. As a mother, once you give birth, your food intake is still an important factor, especially if you’re going to breastfeed. So let’s break down each food group and explain what each provides.
Breads, Cereals, and Grains: During your pregnancy your body needs twice as much iron. Not only are grains high in protein and Vitamin B, they are extremely high in iron. Breads and cereals are high in carbohydrates. Carbs equals energy, and protein builds body tissue in mom and baby.
Vegetables: Vegetables provide many sources of nutrition, including Vitamins A and C, other vitamins, minerals and fiber. Broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, spinach, greens, green beans and tomatoes are high in Vitamin C. But see, our bodies don’t store Vitamin C so it’s important to consume it daily. Plus, Vitamin C helps our bodies to absorb iron in foods, which is also very important since we need twice as much during the pregnancy. Vitamin A is great for the growth and the health of cells in the body of mom and baby. Unlike Vitamin C, Vitamin A can be consumed every other day to maintain health. Dark green and yellow veggies like broccoli, carrots, squash and sweet potatoes are great sources of Vitamin A.
Fruits: Mom should be taking in three or more servings of fruits a day. Fruits rich in Vitamin C include oranges, mandarins, melons, berries, and grapefruits. Other fruits, such as cantaloupe and apricots, are great sources of Vitamin A.
Meats: The meats food group includes beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, and nuts. You obtain a large amount of protein from any of these foods. Protein promotes the growth of new cells and the replacement of old ones.
Dairy: The dairy food group includes milk, yogurt, and cheese. From dairy products, you and your baby obtain calcium, protein, and other nutrients. Calcium is good for your bones and your teeth. If Mom doesn’t consume enough calcium, then the baby will begin to take it from her bones, which can lead to osteoporosis later in Mom’s life. If Mom is lactose-intolerant, she can try non-dairy sources of calcium such as canned salmon and sardines; dark leafy greens like kale; mustard; turnips; or tofu (soy). However, Mom should always consult with her doctor so he or she can recommend a proper way to include calcium in her diet.