Nutrition during Pregnancy

The miracle of life begins in you. As you embark on the wonderful journey of pregnancy, nourish yourself well, because your baby grows out of your love, your joy, and how you take care of yourself. Nurturing yourself with healthy, whole foods ensures that your unborn baby, who shares the food you eat, gets the best possible beginning. A good diet during pregnancy will help your baby’s brain and body growth in the womb, and you can feel confident that she will continue to thrive on your high-quality breast milk after birth.

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Eating well also ensures that you remain strong throughout pregnancy. When your body is well nourished, you will feel energetic and excited, instead of depleted. This is especially true during the last trimester when your baby is rapidly growing. As you prepare your body for a healthy birth, seek out farmer’s markets, small fruit and vegetable markets, and local farmers for delicious and healthy foods. By the time your baby is ready to eat solid foods, you will know where to find all the best ingredients.

A WHOLE-FOODS DIET

What exactly are “whole foods”? Whole foods are those as close as possible to the form in which they were harvested from the earth.
Nurturing yourself and your baby with these foods ensures that everything you eat is as full of nutrition as nature intended. There is a world of whole-food choices awaiting you and your baby, including a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain pasta, bread and cereals, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds, and organic chicken, eggs, fish, and lean meats.
Whole foods can also be found in the form of high-quality oils such as organic, cold-pressed safflower, olive or sesame oils, and exotic sea vegetables such as hiziki and frame, which contain calcium that is more readily absorbed than that found in dairy products.
For vegetarians, eating a wide variety of whole foods will provide all the essential nutrients to nourish you and your developing baby. Choose nutrient-rich foods, and skip the empty calories. Include high-protein foods, healthy fats, and an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Whole grains

Brown rice and other whole grains (millet, oats, barley, and quinoa) are nutrient powerhouses full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and protein.
Because they are rich in complex carbohydrates, whole grains provide balanced energy and are calming. If you are not eating whole grains already, starting now will benefit both you and your child.

Healthy fats: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential oils to nourish both you and your baby. You may have heard of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), one of the essential oils found in fish; this oil is important for Baby’s prenatal and postnatal neurodevelopment. Good fish choices that are lower in contaminants
include herring, wild salmon, sardines, and Pacific halibut. Try to eat at least a tablespoon of herring oil or other high-quality fish oil daily. For those who want a plant-based source of these fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid [ALA]), consume freshly ground organic flaxseed or flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, or walnuts daily.
Many moms-to-be tend to consume too much polyunsaturated, hydrogenated, refined, and low-quality oils. Instead, choose high-quality unrefined sources, such as organic cold-pressed safflower, olive or sesame oils that contain high-quality omega-6 fatty acids. These oils will help to keep your nervous system calm, your insides lubricated, and your skin glowing. Evening primrose oil and borage oil (omega-6 oils) contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid, and they are excellent essential oils; include these in your diet to help balance hormones and reduce inflammation.

Organic fresh nuts and seeds

Organic fresh nuts and seeds are bursting with healthy protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Enjoy them as quick nutritious snacks, and use them as a tasty boost for rice and stews. The best seeds are sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin; the best nuts are almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Munch on them fresh, or roast them yourself without salt or with a touch of the good-quality sea or Celtic salt. Be careful of pre-roasted nuts because they may contain mould. Nuts and seeds can also be eaten as spreads or milk; tahini(a sesame seed spread) is an excellent source of calcium, as is fresh almond milk.

Dark-green leafy vegetables

Kale and broccoli are excellent natural sources of calcium and some essential fatty acids (ALA). Eat them often.

Dairy products

During pregnancy and while nursing, choose organic dairy products. Conventional dairy products can contain traces of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides. If you do not care for dairy products, calcium can be obtained from other sources, such as dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and sea vegetables. Milk is more digestible warm, and some moms discover the added benefit of a more restful sleep when they drink it at bedtime with a pinch of nutmeg or turmeric. Goat’s milk is more digestible than cow’s milk, and it can also be brought to a light boil and drunk warm.

Meat

Poultry and red meat (in moderation) are good sources of the proteins that are essential during pregnancy. As with dairy, organic meat is best, and it is becoming increasingly available. Organic meat comes from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. Free-range organic, a method of farming in which animals are allowed to roam freely and are not kept in tight quarters, is the best choice.

Fish

We have all learned that fish is a nutritious food, high in healthy omega-3 fatty acid and protein. Lately, however, there have been many reports that some fish are not the best food choice because of mercury and PCB contamination. Pregnant women should avoid any fish that could contain these contaminants. The safest fish to eat today are deepwater ocean fish such as Pacific halibut, tilapia, sole, wild salmon (Alaskan), black cod, sardines, herring, and canned pink sockeye. These recommended choices could change as the ocean’s ecosystem changes, so it is important to stay informed on this issue. Some pregnant women choose to forgo fish altogether, whereas others eat only moderate servings of “clean” fish varieties.

Water

Now that you are pregnant, you may find that you are always thirsty. Water, nature’s most vital nutrient, will keep you hydrated. Try to drink at least 2 litres of water daily. A tall glass of warm water every morning is the best-known remedy for constipation common during pregnancy.