Pregnancy is the most beautiful and memorable phase in a woman’s life. However, it is also a time of increased nutritional needs in order to support the developing fetus and to allow for the changes occurring in the mother’s body. The growing baby gets all its nourishment from its mother through the umbilical cord, so what you eat throughout pregnancy really does matter. Not only are you what you eat, but now – so is your baby.
It is often said that a pregnant woman should eat for two people, but this is not exactly true. You see, eating for two does not mean eating double. While it is unhealthy to eat too little during pregnancy, it is also unhealthy to overeat. Poor diet can leave lifelong consequences on the physical and mental health of the baby.
It is crucial that the body has the necessary strength and stamina to make it through pregnancy with good health. You need to make sure that your diet is providing you with enough energy and nutrients for the baby and for the body to deal with all the changes.
The ideal is a balanced diet with enough proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. A well-balanced diet should contain something from all food groups: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain products like breads or cereals, meat, fish or other protein alternatives, milk and diary products. A good diet will help the mother and the baby to stay fit, healthy and in good condition for the birth.
While most foods are safe to eat, there are certain foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, because they might harm the baby. These include:
- Raw seafood, such as oysters or sushi
- Raw or undercooked beef or poultry
- Deli meats (including hot dogs)
- Fish high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish
- Liver and liver products
- Unpasteurized milk
- Raw eggs, or foods containing raw eggs, such as Caesar dressing, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custard
- Some types of cheese, especially soft cheese such as blue cheese, feta, Brie, Camembert
- Artificial sweeteners, such as can be found in diet soda
- Alcohol – when pregnant, it’s best to cut down or stop drinking alcohol altogether
- Cutting back or skipping caffeinated beverages is also advisable
It is important to remember that everything you put in your mouth over the nine months of pregnancy will play an important role in the development of the baby. Therefore it is vital to do everything to ensure that you and your baby get adequate nutrition.
Remember – Eat well, be well!