A Healthy Diet during Pregnancy
A baby’s successful development—from single cell to full term, depends in part on proper nutrition. In general, a mother who eats a healthy diet will serve her baby well, and a healthy diet before pregnancy is, in most respects, the same type of diet that should be adhered to after pregnancy.
What’s that mean? Basically, follow to the ideals of good nutrition that we have been taught since childhood (though, the government updates its advice every five years, and another update is expected in 2015). The food pyramid was replaced by MyPlate in 2010.
Though every woman should check with her doctor when pregnancy is suspected, here are the highlights:
- Fruits: between 1.5 and 2 cups daily
- Vegetables: 2.5 cups daily
- Grains: 6 ounces daily
- Protein Foods: 5 to 5.5 ounces daily
- Dairy: 3 cups daily
- Oils: 5 to 6 teaspoons daily
More specifically, www.choosemyplate.gov gives good information for pregnant woman and breastfeeding women. A somewhat personalized Daily Food Plan can be created by inputting specific information, including age, height and weight, and stage of pregnancy. Keep in mind that caloric intake and nutrient intake should be higher if you are expecting twins or other multiples. In general, doctors advise that women should gain one to four pounds in the first trimester, and two to four pounds per month from the fourth month to the ninth month (a total of 13 to 28 pounds). You can personalize this information using the government’s pregnancy weight gain calculator.
Diabetes, Food Allergies and Lactose Intolerance
Complications may arise when a woman has diabetes (including gestational diabetes), food allergies or lactose intolerance. Doctors can provide advice about nutritional requirements and substitutions when necessary.
A family history of allergies, even if the expectant mother does not have them, may be cause to avoid common allergens like peanuts. Lactose intolerance is usually dealt with b using lactose-free milk or calcium-enriched soymilk. In some situations, calcium needs may be met with tofu, select types of beans and leafy greens.
Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Diets
Women with these types of pre-pregnancy diets may need more specific guidance during pregnancy to ensure that their babies get proper nutrition.
Vegans do not eat anything having to do with animals, including meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs or even honey. Vegetarians, on the other hand, do not eat meat. Variations on this diet include people who avoid most meat but do consume fish, or those he consume eggs and dairy. The Cleveland Clinic advises vegans and vegetarians about the numbers of servings per day to eat, and the source of those servings. They also suggest four servings of calcium-rich foods per day (dairy, seafood, leafy greens and tofu, for example), and monitoring protein intake. Suggested foods for proper protein intake include peas or cooked dried beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, peanut butter and eggs, where appropriate.
A gluten-free diet, often used by people with Celiac disease, is one that avoids proteins common in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a wheat-rye hybrid). Food products with gluten sometimes include breads, soups, cereal, pasta, sauces, salad dressing, beer, and even food coloring. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness provides recommendations that may include several vitamin supplements, including folic acid and iron. People on a gluten-free diet should be careful because many gluten-free cereals, pasta and breads are not fortified with iron and folic acid like their counterparts.
Links between poor nutrition and birth injury
Whatever your diet, proper nutrition is important because poor nutrition can impact fetal brain development, organ function and metabolic function. This is not just short-term, but may result in life-long problems, predisposing the baby to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Prenatal care and an early appointment with a doctor is critical to the long-term health of the developing baby. Nutrition is extremely important to assist in proper development, and there are several governmental programs that can assist mothers in understanding and affording the food and supplements necessary for a health pregnancy.
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