Nutrition During Pregnancy
During your pregnancy, eating a well balanced diet that’s high in nutrients is a very important step to ensure 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 even more important that you’re not giving your baby too much or too little of one source, as well as maintaining the proper protein, iron, fiber, calcium, vitamin, calorie and carbohydrate levels within your own body.
Understanding the difference between servings and helpings is very important, as a helping equals two servings. For example, two standard servings would be a sandwich with two slices of bread or a plate of spaghetti which includes one cup of pasta. A helping is more or less a meal, whereas a serving can be considered a snack.
The 5 Main Food Groups
We’ve been learning about the five main food groups since we were kids ourselves. The infamous pyramid comes to mind when you think of the term “5 main food groups”. Breads, Fruits, Vegetables, Meats and Dairy provide essential nutrients to both mom and baby before, 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 verify what each provides.
Breads, Cereals and Grains: During your pregnancy your body needs twice as much iron. Grains are not only high in protein and Vitamin B, but 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 a day of fruits. Fruits rich in Vitamin C are oranges, mandarins, melons, berries and grapefruits. While other fruits such as cantaloupe and apricots are great sources of Vitamin A due to their darker colors.
Meats: Your meats food group includes beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans and nuts. You gain a large amount of protein from each one. Protein promotes the growth of new cells as well as the replacement of old ones.
Dairy: Your dairy food group includes milks, yogurts, and cheeses. From your dairy products, you and your baby receive calcium, protein and other nutrients. Calcium is good for your bones and your teeth. If mom doesn’t consume enough calcium, then baby will begin to withdraw it from her bones, which can cause things like osteoporosis later in life. If mom is lactose, she can try adding milk to foods, dry milk, buttermilk or yogurt. Other non-dairy sources of calcium include canned salmon and sardines, dark leafy greens like kale, mustard, turnips and tofu (soy cheese). However, mom should always consult with her doctor and make him/her aware of her condition so he/she can recommend the proper way of including calcium in her diet.