Providing the best for your baby starts with prenatal nutrition. Understanding the importance of certain vitamins and nutrients and where to get them will help you and your baby thrive together.
What does good prenatal nutrition look like?
Growing and nurturing another life in your uterus has to require some pretty drastic diet changes, right? The answer is actually no! Nutrition advice during pregnancy is similar to everyday diets. A balanced plate of fruits, vegetables, grains, healthy fats and protein is key to getting proper nutrition. Pregnant women do need to focus on a few extra nutrients to support the growth of their baby:
During early development, folic acid helps form the neural tube. Proper formation of the neural tube helps prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.
Vitamin D promotes strong bone and teeth growth for your baby. Not only is Vitamin D important throughout pregnancy but continues to be through postpartum. While breastfeeding, the mother continues to be the main source of Vitamin D for her infant.
From a young age, we’re told to drink our milk to grow big and strong. What we really need from the milk is calcium which does in fact promote healthy growth. So, just as you were told as a child, continue to get your daily intake of calcium so that your baby develops strong bones and teeth. Beyond that, according to BabyCenter calcium can also reduce your risk of hypertension and preeclampsia by helping to regulate blood pressure.
Protein is known for muscle growth, but it also helps with the growth of your baby’s organs. Aptaclub explains the other areas of development that protein is necessary for:
- Growth and repair of new and damaged tissues
- Create antibodies for the immune system
- Make hormones and enzymes
- Help muscles function properly
- Transport oxygen through the blood
On a regular basis, your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. Pregnant women require more iron in their diet to make more blood to supply more oxygen for the baby.
Ways to get those nutrients
Luckily, there are multiple ways to get all the nutrients you need during your pregnancy.
Folic acid is found in sources like oranges, spinach, asparagus, beans and prenatal vitamins. You can get your Vitamin D from fatty fish, such as salmon, eggs, fortified milk and orange juice. You can get calcium through milk, yogurt, spinach, juice and salmon. Your protein sources can consist of lean meat, poultry, beans, peas, seeds and soy products. Iron sources include beans, nuts, dried fruit, and fortified breakfast cereals.
Prenatal nutrition: good for babies AND mothers to-be
Providing your body with nutrients during pregnancy helps your baby’s development along with your health. Growing another life takes a vast amount of energy and puts your body through major changes. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and eat a diet that supports your well-being. Pregnancy brings symptoms like fatigue and morning sickness. Through proper nutrition, you can help create the best environment for you and your baby.
Reach out to your healthcare provider with any questions about nutrient sources or dietary changes during pregnancy.