To maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy, it is important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Additionally, aim to fulfill all prenatal energy needs by getting an adequate intake of carbohydrates and protein during pregnancy.
Within this article, you will learn the right foods to target, what to avoid, and why prenatal vitamins can be such a powerful nutritional tool to utilize for all prenatal clients.
Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
Eating fruits and vegetables during pregnancy will provide vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy, as well as fibre to aid with digestion and help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids.
Carbohydrates can fulfill the energy needs of a mother’s diet during pregnancy. Carbs are also great for satisfying appetites without an excessive amount of calories. Carbs should make up just over a third of the food mothers should eat. Instead of refined, starchy white foods – choose wholegrain such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or simply leave the skin on potatoes.
Eat protein each day - choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry and try not to add extra fat or oil when cooking. Make sure poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meats such as lamb and pork are cooked all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat and that the juices have no pink or red in them.
Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, fromage frais and yoghurt are important in pregnancy because they contain calcium and other nutrients that are needed. If you prefer dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, go for unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy & Safe Food Preparation
When you are pregnant, you should avoid having more than two portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel and herring because it can contain toxins.
Avoid eating partially cooked or raw eggs, as there is a risk of salmonella. Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice are safe for pregnant women to eat raw or partially cooked (such as soft boiled eggs) because they come from flocks that have been vaccinated against salmonella.
Preparing Food Safely:
- Wash fruit, vegetables and salads to remove all traces of soil, which may contain toxoplasma, a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis – which can harm your unborn baby.
- Wash all surfaces and utensils, and your hands, after preparing raw foods (poultry, meat, eggs, fish, shellfish and raw vegetables) – this will help to avoid food poisoning.
- Make sure that raw foods are stored separately from ready-to-eat foods, otherwise there's a risk of contamination.
- Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meats.
Prenatal Vitamins: What Are They and Why Are They Important?
Prenatal vitamins are supplements that are specifically designed and tailored to the expectant mother and the developing baby’s needs. They are carefully balanced to ensure the prenatal vitamin will support the pregnancy through all three trimesters, providing all the needed vitamins and minerals.
This is important because many women will begin adjusting their nutritional intake before pregnancy to maintain the healthiest diet possible. This can be done in a much more targeted way than a general multivitamin. Prenatal vitamins provide quality over quantity nutrients for mothers.
Additionally, generic multivitamins are not suitable for pregnancy because they won't always provide the right balance of vitamins. Other vitamins such as A, E and B (other than folic acid) are not required in large doses and should be avoided unless advised by a doctor.
Vitamin Recommendations While Pregnant
Usually a prenatal vitamin will be advised by the GP, Midwife or Health advisor upon confirmation of the pregnancy. They will generally advise on particular trusted brands, dosage and other nutritional information such as what to avoid during pregnancy. It's important that the advice on vitamins is clear to the expectant mother.
Here are some important nutritional recommendations for prenatal vitamins:
During pregnancy, mothers will be advised to begin taking a consistent dosage of Folic Acid. It is recommended to take the following doses: 400 micrograms of folic acid each day from before pregnancy and up to 12 weeks. This is to reduce the risk of problems in the baby’s development in the early weeks of pregnancy.
- The department of health and social care recommends that all adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding, need 10 micrograms of Vitamin D daily and should consider taking a supplement containing this amount between September and March. This is because it is common in the UK for people to have low levels of vitamin D. Taking supplements can improve your baby’s growth during his or her first year of life and can reduce their risk of developing rickets.
- Vitamin C is easily sourced within a varied diet- it can be found in foods such as broccoli, red and green peppers, oranges or orange juice, and other fruits such as blackcurrants and strawberries. Although routine supplements of vitamin C are not specifically recommended when you are pregnant, this vitamin helps iron to be absorbed. This may be of benefit to include in a mother’s diet during pregnancy at a time when women are at risk of becoming anemic.
- Calcium is vital for baby’s bone and teeth growth during pregnancy. This is found in food such as milk, yoghurt, green leafy vegetables and fish such as sardines and pilchards.
- Vitamin K is needed for our blood to clot properly. Newborn babies have low levels of vitamin K, which puts them at risk of bleeding. To prevent this, vitamin K will be offered for your baby after birth. It’s not necessary to take vitamin K supplements during pregnancy unless it is thought that the baby is at particular risk of bleeding. This could be because of taking certain medicines for epilepsy or liver disease.
- If iron levels become low, it can leave feelings of tiredness and suffering from anemia. If the iron level in the blood becomes low, a GP or a midwife will be able to provide advice.
Concluding Thoughts on Maintaining a Healthy Diet During Pregnancy
In this article, we talked about a few important aspects of prenatal diets and nutrition. To offer a brief recap:
- Foods to eat - be sure to plan for enough fruits, vegetables, carbs, dairy, and protein.
- Foods to avoid - Avoid fish more than 2x a week, as well as partially cooked foods.
- Prenatal vitamins and their importance - prenatal vitamins are important because they provide a structured, targeted dose of vitamins that mothers need during pregnancy.
- Vitamin recommendations - Vitamin C, Calcium, Vitamin K, Iron, Folic Acid, and Vitamin D are often important nutrients to include in diets during pregnancy.
To learn more and get a comprehensive understanding of prenatal and postnatal health, enroll in our course for prenatal and postnatal clients and start making even more of a difference in your training practice!