When you get pregnant, your body undergoes a lot of hormonal and physical changes. Your nutritional needs also change significantly. You will be eating for two. You need to nourish yourself and your growing baby. Your food choices should also change with your changing nutritional needs. There are certain minerals and nutrients that you will need in plenty. You need to explore your situation carefully and understand what nutrients you need.
In this article, we will discuss the various minerals and nutrients that are essential for pregnant women. We will also explore the top 5 foods that should feature in every pregnant woman’s diet plan.
So, what minerals and nutrients does a pregnant woman need most?
A pregnant woman needs a lot of protein. You are literally building another human being from scratch. Physical body parts are built by protein. The protein is needed for both your body and your child’s body. Your body needs to expand to accommodate the new human being.
Luckily, there are a lot of foods that have high levels of protein. You should go for foods that supply lean protein. Avoid foods with fatty protein because they will pack you with too many fats. It is natural to significantly gain weight while pregnant, but you don’t want to pack in too much fat. You will want to lose some of the weight after giving birth. It might be difficult if you had packed up too much fat.
Folic Acid is known as folate when present in food as nutrients. Folate is a B-complex Vitamin that is very essential in building the baby’s body parts. It helps to prevent common birth defects such as brain and spinal cord challenges. Normally, you will be advised to take folate supplements while you are pregnant. You can also get plenty of folate from your everyday diet.
Calcium is another very essential mineral nutrient for pregnant mothers. Calcium is the main mineral used in the development of bones. First, you need a strong bone structure to support the extra weight that comes with the pregnancy. Second, your body has to supply the calcium needed to build the baby’s entire bone structure.
The calcium used to build the baby’s bone is drawn from your bones. As such, if you are not taking enough calcium, your bone structure is going to become weak. In fact, most women who give birth too many times suffer bone structure problems in old age. Fortunately, you can get enough calcium from easily accessible foods. You can also use supplements if you feel you are not getting enough calcium.
Iron is the other mineral nutrient that a pregnant woman needs in plenty. Doctors recommend that pregnant women get at least 27 milligrams of iron every day. You need twice the amount of iron needed by a woman who is not expecting. Iron helps to prevent anaemia. It also helps reduce the risk of infection for both you and the baby. You need plenty of Vitamin C to enhance your body’s uptake of iron. A lot of the foods we eat every day have iron.
Your diet needs to contain foods that will supply the minerals and nutrients we have highlighted above. So, what kind of foods are we talking about?
Here are some of the food that should never miss in your diet as a pregnant woman.
Fruits and Vegetables
So cliché! Right?
As cliché as it sounds, you should never downplay the important for fruits and vegetables in your diet as a pregnant woman. They will supply most of the mineral nutrients that you need. They will nourish your body and that of your baby with the much-needed calcium, iron, and folate.
Green vegetables will do you and your baby a lot of good. They are also full of fiber. Your pregnancy affects your digestive system because it pushes up your intestines and stomach. You will need a lot of dietary fiber to ensure your digestion remains seamless.
Meat, Milk, and Other Source of Lean Protein
We have already mentioned that you need a lot of protein for the development of the baby. Lean meat such as fish, poultry, fatless-pork, and red meat are good sources of lean protein. You should go slow on the red meat though. Too much of it is not healthy.
You can get your protein from other sources such as nuts, seeds, milk, tofu, and beans. All these are sources of lean protein. Avoid any foods with unsaturated fats. As mentioned earlier, you do not want to pack on too much fact.
Whole grains such as millet, wheat, and barley will provide you with the energy you need to carry the pregnancy. You need to stay active so that the baby develops well. Whole grains contain carbs and they will supply the energy needed to prevent you from feeling lethargic. Oatmeal is the best source of carbohydrates for a pregnant woman. You can also try whole-wheat pasta or brown rice.
Milk and other dairy products are a great source of calcium. We have already gone through how important calcium is. Yoghurt and cheese can also provide you with calcium. Dairy products are also a good source of protein, iron, and vitamin D.
Eggs are another rich source of protein and mineral nutrients. Eggs are great because they supply a wide range of minerals and nutrients. Eggs will supply you with iron, potassium, zinc, and many other mineral supplements. Eggs are particularly a great source of iron. We have already explored how important iron is to a pregnant woman.
As mentioned earlier, most of the foods that you need to nourish your pregnancy are readily available. If you feel like you are not getting enough of any the highlighted mineral and nutrients, you can take supplements. Talk to your doctor first before you opt for any supplements. They are in a better position to know which supplements are best for you.
In conclusion, nourishing your pregnancy should not be difficult. Ensure you go for pregnancy clinic so that you can learn everything you need to learn about nourishing your body and that of the growing baby. Your clinician will advise you on issues pertaining to diet. They will also know if you need any special intervention as far as your nutrition is concerned. The progress of the fetus is a good indicator of whether you are getting proper nutrition. Good nutrition will also go a long way in ensuring you do not struggle during delivery.