Pregnancy is the most beautiful event that could happen to a woman. Feeling your baby growing inside of you is just magical. The minute you realize how magical all this phase is, you understand the importance of making the right decisions for both you and your baby. The main secret to having the perfectly healthy pregnancy is understanding the critical factors for a well-balanced diet and lifestyle. This doing-it-ideally could be a little challenging for a first-time mother who can feel overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility of being in charge of a human being other than herself.
In the Gulf region, every pregnant woman is surrounded by her family who usually tends to help guide her through this stage of her life. No matter what you have in mind, make sure that you cannot follow a diet that restricts your calories intake, supports a great weight-loss regimen, or listen to all the sabotaging interferences that tend to mislead you. You are your intelligent being, and you are fully capable of having a perfectly healthy baby while staying healthy yourself. Yes, you can do it. All you need is the basics of healthy nutrition.
Water & Fluids
You need to drink, drink, then drink some more. While some women enjoy a cup of water, others prefer to replace it with a cup of juice. The truth is that you can obtain the needed fluids from plain water, juices, and even some fruits of vegetables. Keep in mind that you need about 10 cups of water/fluids on a daily basis. If you do not get enough, you will become dehydrated. This situation could affect both you and your baby. To make sure you are not dehydrated, you should not feel a constant thirst, should have a light-colored urine, and eliminate something equivalent to 6-7 cups of urine per day. Dehydration has several symptoms including dizziness, nausea, edema, headaches and lack of energy. So, no matter where you are, make sure you take your drink.
These are your new best friends. Every pregnant woman needs about 4 to 5 servings of dairy products per day. Dairy Products are an excellent source of Calcium. This mineral is required by our body for the proper growth of our bones, and nerves. You need about 1000-1300 mg of calcium per day. When you are pregnant, your baby’s development is dependent on what you eat. If your diet is missing some elements, your baby will use your body’s stores to retrieve it. In the case of calcium, with a diet low in this mineral, your baby will use your bones’ reserves. This diet could cause you several future health complications like osteoporosis and weaker teeth. Make sure you are taking your calcium from milk, cheese, yogurt, labneh, and even ice cream. Other non-dairy sources of calcium include almonds, sardines, fortified orange juice, and salmon. Several women choose to take calcium and Vitamin D supplements, especially those who have lactose intolerance. These supplements are an essential recommendation.
Fruits and Vegetables.
These can be the perfect snack, topping or side meal. Every pregnant woman needs a sufficient amount of these nutrients packed food. Try to add about four servings of vegetables and 3-4 servings of fruits every day and you will be on the safe side. Fruits and vegetables are high sources of fibers, which makes them the perfect digestive aid. From another angle, they are very high in Vitamin C which helps prevent anemia by enhancing iron absorption. You need about 70 mg of Vitamin C per day that you can easily receive from eating citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, cantaloupe, broccoli, and tomatoes. Finally, fruits and vegetables are great sources of folic acid. Folic Acid is a vitamin B that is highly found in dark green leaves, beans (black-eyed, lima), beetroots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and veal. You need 0.4 mg of Folic Acid per day. Most women are given folic acid supplements from the moment they decide they want to try getting pregnant.
Meats, Eggs, and Legumes.
These constitute the main element of your meal due to their proteins content. Try to consume lean meats like skinned poultry and grilled fish. Meats and legumes are the best sources of iron. You are advised to consume 3 servings of food rich in iron. These include meat, spinach, beans, liver, and fortified cereals. You need proteins, especially during the second and third trimester. Iron plays a major role in carrying the oxygen to your baby and making you feel energetic during pregnancy.
Breads and Grains.
These are the main source of energy in your diet. Try to pick whole grains and enriched options that can contain good amounts of iron, vitamin B, and fiber. You probably need about 6-10 servings of this food group per day.
Iodine, hidden benefits.
What you also need to consume is iodine-rich food that can ensure the proper brain and nervous system growth of your baby. You need about 220mg per day. Iodine is normally found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Baked potatoes and beans are also good sources.
Vitamin A is a must.
Vitamin A plays a major role in the proper functioning of the heart, lungs, kidneys and eyes. This vitamin is highly found in eggs, milk, carrots, pumpkins, spinach and sweet potatoes. You need about 770 mcg of Vitamin A per day.
Fats and Oils can be tricky.
While some women tend to crave sweets and fried food, some others might restrict fat intake to avoid excess weight gain. The truth is that you do need fat during pregnancy. Try to pick the right ones for you such as good fats found in seeds, avocados and olive oil
Food to avoid. Yes, there is a list of food that you are not supposed to consume during pregnancy. This includes:
- Seafood high in mercury such as sharks, swordfish, and king mackerel.
- Undercooked chicken, meat, and eggs.
- Unpasteurized dairy products are a definite NO! try to stay away from soft cheeses ike brie and feta.
- Unwashed fruits and vegetables. Make sure you wash & soak thoroughly your fruits and vegetables with vinegar and coarse salt.
- Excess caffeine that can get through to your baby through the placenta and affect your baby’s heart rate.
- Herbal tea can have an adverse effect on your baby’s heart rate. Check with your physician about the best option for you.
- Salty food that can cause your body to retain water and possibly increase your blood pressure.
How much weight should you gain?
To make sure you are gaining the proper amount of weight during pregnancy, you need to keep in mind that the peak in weight gain will happen during the last semester when the baby’s size would be increasing. You are advised to gain about 12-15 kg during the entire pregnancy. How is the weight distributed? Very simple. Your baby would account for about 7 lbs, the placenta and amniotic fluids account for 6 lbs, your breast tissue for 3lbs and your blood supply 4 lbs. Finally, your uterus accounts for the 3-5 lbs. Whatever you gain more than this would be the fat stores needed for breastfeeding as well as delivery. Try not to go overboard with the extra weight that exceeds the justifiable weight you are supposed to gain.
How you maintain the perfect weight.
It is very essential for you to maintain the perfect weight during this amazing stage for your sake and the sake of your baby. Your delivery will be much easier when you are at the right weight. Try to eat acceptable meals portions, limit the intake of fried food and butter, make sure you do not add a lot of salt to your food. From another angle, try to exercise lightly like swimming and walking.
Final Recommendations for a Healthy Pregnancy:
- You cannot only focus on getting your folic acid need from food. You need to take supplements.
- Cooking food helps destroy several nutrients like folic acid and vitamin C. Do your best to consume as much as u can raw fruits and vegetables as possible.
- Steaming or grilling your food is way better than boiling it as it helps retain its nutrients.
- Try to consume low-fat dairy products and lean meat cuts.
- You may want to substitute your rice and pasta with quinoa and whole grains.
- Opt to mix and match your meals. For example, for breakfast, take a bowl of yogurt with some fortified cereals, berries, a spoon of honey and some nuts.
- Incorporate more vegetables into your meals by adding them raw as a side salad. For example, quinoa beet salad with asparagus, corn, green leaves, nuts, and mango.
- If you are pregnant with twins, your recommended intake would be higher than if you were pregnant with one baby.
- Most women tend to lick the spoon after preparing the cake mix. Don’t! This mix contains raw eggs which could possibly contain Salmonella.
- Try to limit your salad intake n restaurants, especially deli stores. These might be contaminated with listeria.
- Most pregnant women begin gaining weight when they become bored or stressed and hence resort to emotional eating. Try to keep yourself occupied by reading a good book, watching a fun movie, or keeping a healthy fresh snack next to you at all time.
This is the most wonderful stage of your life. Make sure it doesn’t become your burden! Keep taking the best decisions and have a great pregnancy! If you have been trying to get pregnant and have not succeeded yet; then, just be a little more patient and read an important article by clicking here!