Pregnancy nutrition and fetal development
Prenatal nutrition is one of the most important aspects of a healthy pregnancy. Not only does a developing fetus need proper vitamins and minerals to develop, it's also extremely important that an expecting mother keep herself healthy during her pregnancy.
General Pregnancy Nutrition Tips
Every pregnancy is different, but these general pregnancy diet guidelines can help mothers-to-be have the best possible pregnancy and give their babies the healthy start:
- Eat small but frequent meals. It can be difficult to keep food down during a pregnancy that causes heavy bouts of nausea, but it's important that you get enough food to keep yourself and your baby healthy. Eating smaller meals can help you keep your blood levels normal and can help you keep food down more easily, ensuring that you're retaining the valuable nutrients in the food you eat.
- Focus on folic acid. While it's optimal to ensure you're meeting your daily requirement of folic acid before you're even pregnant, it's beneficial to continue meeting the requirements throughout your pregnancy for proper fetal development. Folic acid can be difficult to get from food intake, so a supplement is recommended.
- Take your vitamins. Prenatal vitamins help you get the recommended dosage of the vitamins and minerals that are important in your baby's development, such as calcium, vitamin D and iron. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking pregnancy vitamins or any other supplement.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
While we already know that alcohol and smoking are not safe during pregnancy, we're often less certain about which foods can hurt mothers and babies the most. The following is just a sample of some foods should be avoided altogether or eaten in moderation during pregnancy:
- Junk food. While most women have junk food cravings during their pregnancy and may feel like being pregnant is a good excuse to loosen the reins, indulging too much can lead to excessive weight gain that can be harmful to both mother and baby. Keeping fried and processed, sugar-rich foods to a minimum is advised.
- Seafood. Many types of fish and seafood contain large amounts of mercury and industrial pollutants. It's best to keep your intake of these foods to a minimum and to ensure that when you do eat fish or seafood, they have been fished from safe waters.
- Unwashed vegetables and fruit. Many of us are lax in washing our vegetables, which is why being extra-diligent in scrubbing produce is an important prenatal health precaution. Many veggies have traces of pesticides and chemicals that can be harmful to a developing fetus.