Nutrition, Pregnancy, Self care

5 Keys to Prenatal Nutrition

Your diet during pregnancy doesn’t need to be stressful, and we certainly don’t want you to feel as if your body is being scrutinized by your care provider, us, or anyone else. Your body has been yours for as long as it’s been around, you’ve spent your life caring for your body and it’s our job to trust you as the most qualified person to make decisions about your body. That goes for your diet, too.

Our doula clients are often concerned with nutrition and how to best nourish themselves when they are growing a tiny human, so we’re sharing some information with you about what things are definitely important to have in the average, healthy pregnant person’s diet.

Folate

This nutrient is critical to baby’s brain and development. It also helps prevent neural tube defects. You can find folate in some prenatal vitamins, but many will have the synthetic form- folic acid. You can find folate in foods such as: broccoli, legumes, banana, flaxseed, avocado, asparagus, and leafy greens.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important because it helps to regulate absorption of calcium and phosphate in the body which is essential to healthy bone formation. Vitamin D also plays a role in the immune system, cell growth, inflammation response, muscle strength, and hormone production. During pregnancy, your vitamin D intake will also have an affect on your baby’s vitamin D levels and proper development. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy puts your baby at risk of having low vitamin D stores at birth. Low levels have also been linked to an increased risk of pregnancy complications including pre­eclampsia, preterm labor, gestational diabetes and increased risk for infections. Vitamin D rich foods: fish, cod liver oil, mushrooms, eggs, and oats. Sunshine exposure also works really well!

Calcium

This vitamin strengthens the baby’s bones and teeth, and helps regulates your body’s fluids. Ensuring that she has enough calcium also allows a pregnant woman’s circulatory, nervous and muscular to operate properly. Babies require so much calcium to grow that they will deplete the mother’s body of calcium if there’s not enough. Great food sources: almonds, chia seeds, kiwi, oranges, milk, yogurt, cheese, tahini, and apricots.

Protein

Just like for anyone who is developing muscle, protein matters during pregnancy. It is essential to the growth of the baby throughout pregnancy. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy, and it plays a role in your increasing blood supply. Experts recommend 75 to 100 grams of protein per day. Great food sources for protein: beans, lean meats, nuts, quinoa, fish, dairy products, eggs.

Iron

In combination with sodium, potassium, and water, iron helps increase your blood volume and prevents anemia. Lack of iron is linked to several pregnancy complications, including preterm birth and low birth weight. Iron rich foods: red meat, organ meats, dark leafy greens, legumes, blackstrap molasses, and dates.

None of the things listed above are hard to find. If you focus on a leafy greens, lean protein sources, and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables- you’ll likely be just fine. Most providers recommend taking a prenatal supplement in addition to a healthy diet, as well.

A healthy diet paired with healthy movement (exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga) are a huge part of growing a baby and having a healthy pregnancy.

What’s your favorite healthy pregnancy snack?

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