Adequate nutrition is of utmost importance for women in any stage of pregnancy, including pre-conception. Apart from maintaining good physical and emotional health, it is essential for pregnant women to follow a healthy diet. Healthy eating provides the vital nutrients the baby needs as it grows and develops in the womb. In this blog, we are going to recommend the best diet for pregnant women.
According to research, poor nutrition and an unhealthy diet during pregnancy can lead to serious risks both for the woman and the fetus, as well as the long-term health of the child after birth.
Some diets can be beneficial for pregnant women, while other diets can be harmful. Let’s take a look at which eating guidelines are recommended by dietary and health professionals, and which should be avoided during this important time.
Mediterranean diet during pregnancy
The Mediterranean diet is widely recommended for pregnant women. This is because the Mediterranean diet ﬁts all the suggestions for pregnant and breastfeeding women as it contains:
- lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and extra virgin olive oil
- moderate amounts of poultry, seafood, and dairy
- low intakes of red meat, processed meats, and highly processed foods
Thus, the diet supplies the growing baby with essential nutrients and nurtures the mother’s body. Studies have found that this way of eating can help limit the amount of weight gained during pregnancy and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, and birth complications, and low birth weight.
Keto and pregnancy
The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet plan has become extremely popular in recent years, so it is important to know that keto is not generally recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
One reason is that removing carbohydrate-rich foods from a mother’s diet can reduce intake of folic acid, which is vital for brain and spine development. Another is that keto is usually used for weight loss, while mothers-to-be need to gain weight. PlanKetogenic explains more risks associated with keto and pregnancy if this is a topic that interests you.
Paleo for pregnant women
The Paleo diet is based on what our ancestors used to eat, and that is why the ingredients of this diet are primarily natural and with no processed food. Thus, it can be a healthy option for pregnant women as it provides the much-needed protein, iron, and natural oils that will keep both the mother and her baby healthy.
The diet has a low glycemic index and may help prevent anemia during pregnancy since it encourages you to eat foods high in iron, like high-quality meat and seafood, eggs, and dark leafy vegetables.
However, it is important to speak with your doctor if you are considering combining paleo and pregnancy to ensure that you are getting enough nutrients. For example, they may recommend that you include legumes, which are avoided on some versions of paleo.
Vegetarianism and Veganism for expecting mothers
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has stated that well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy for all life stages, including pregnancy and lactation, and that these diets may help prevent or treat certain diseases.
The key is in the planning. Those who follow a plant-based diet are at a higher risk for certain deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. It is important that you consult with your doctor so they can take an active role in helping you plan how to get all the nutrients and vitamins you need for optimal fetal development and for your own health. This may require adding daily supplements and/or fortified foods.
Losing weight after delivery
A woman’s body undergoes significant changes during pregnancy and after childbirth. It is not uncommon to worry about weight gain after giving birth and feel eager to get back in shape.
Here are some smart tips for approaching weight loss after pregnancy:
- Set realistic goals and make wise choices as good nutrition is still important for your health, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
- Engage in breastfeeding as it can help shed off your weight faster as it uses fat cells in your body for milk production.
- Include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and high-fiber foods in your daily diet.
- Limit intake of food loaded with sugars or salt, and control portion sizes.
- Speak with your doctor about when it is safe to begin light exercise after delivery. When the time is right, incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
Interesting facts and tips about diet and pregnancy
- Most people know that drinking alcohol is not safe for pregnant women, but did you know that there are also certain foods to avoid? Foods that you should not eat while pregnant include raw or undercooked eggs, meat, fish, or seafood; unpasteurized milk or cheese; high mercury fish; pâté, liver, and organ meats; and sushi. Be sure to read up on all the recommendations and speak with your medical provider if you have any questions.
- High levels of caffeine are associated with increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks should be limited.
- You need to eat more than usual during the second and third trimesters. (About 340 and 450 extra calories each day, respectively.) You are also recommended to eat 330-400 extra calories while breastfeeding.
- Pregnant women need higher amounts of certain nutrients, including calcium, choline, iodine, irone, folate, and protein. Your ob-gyn may prescribe you a prenatal vitamin and/or protein powder for pregnancy in addition to recommending certain foods.
- Most women lose about 13 pounds (6 kilograms) after giving birth, including the weight of the baby, amniotic fluid, and placenta.
- Regular exercise is usually recommended during pregnancy. Make sure to speak with your doctor about what types of exercise are appropriate at different stages.
- Hydration is an important part of any diet! Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after pregnancy.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
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