Pregnancy diet dos and don’ts for growing a healthy baby

Pregnant woman eating an apple

Some women do not know that the maternal duty to protect and nurture their baby begins even before childbirth. Some of those who know, however, but unfortunately, are clueless in terms of how to properly go about it. The surest way is a consistent and well-balanced diet. Now that you are pregnant you ought to eat well. Eating well does not entail overeating but healthy and nutritious dieting. You have to, because, what you eat contributes significantly to the development of your baby. In consequence, certain food habits would have to be discarded, as well as any other factor that may hamper the protection and nurturing of your baby. 


Here, we have compiled a list of dos and don’ts that should guide you in your quest to grow a healthy baby.


Dos:

1. Fruits and veggies

Fruits and vegetables are staples for any mum-to-be. This is because they are packed with essential nutrients needed for both mother and baby. Fruits are a good source of vitamins. Vitamin C, for instance, helps develop the muscles, strengthen bones and blood vessels, and even help in the absorption of iron. Vitamin A also contributes to the formation of baby’s teeth and bones and also lends a hand to the eyes, ears, and immune system. Deficiency in this vitamin may lead to eye problems for the baby, and incomplete repair of the mother’s body after delivery. Also, the fiber content in fruits and vegetables guarantee the free movement of your bowels. This helps to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids (blood vessels in the rectal area that have become unusually swollen). There are a lot more that fruits and vegetables have to offer to keep you and your baby healthy, so you shouldn’t miss them for the world.

2. Starchy foods

Carbohydrates are a good source of fiber, energy, and vitamins. Carrying a baby or babies(as the case may be) requires extra work and thus extra energy. Starchy foods are your best bet for getting all the energy you need. Bread, rice, maize, cereal are some examples of starchy foods to consider. So whenever you eat(which should be a regular) ensure that carbohydrates are aptly represented.

3. Dairy products

The likes of milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, butter etc, are examples of dairy products. Dairy products are simply a variety of foods made from the milk got from mammals. They are rich in calcium, phosphorus, protein and vitamin D. These are important for the baby’s bones, teeth, heart, nerves, and muscles. All these nutrients can be got from the non-fat, low fat or full-fat variants, it is best to opt for which suits your present size; or better still, resort to your doctor’s advice.

4. Eat Protein

According to Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, protein is necessary because “it has its hands in every critical function of the body.” This includes the baby’s brain which begins to develop in the third trimester. The protein contains omega-3 fatty acids that are relevant for cognitive activity and growth. We must not forget that protein also repairs body tissue and red blood cells, transports nutrients, stabilizes blood sugar levels, plays a vital role in hair and fingernail growth and a host of other things. Consumption of beans, eggs, soy milk, meat etc, in the right proportion guarantees all these.

5. Drink water

Water is as vital as oxygen to human beings. It ensures the smooth functioning of the organs in the body. So, no matter how much protein or carbohydrate you take you need water to make it all work. As a woman in a family way, you need it more than ever. In fact, you should drink water almost every time, even when you do not feel thirsty. This is only a little sacrifice especially when we consider it keeps you hydrated and makes the blood cells healthy; and that your breast milk has water as one of its components. Just as its importance is emphasized in how to get your breast milk pumping, it is…here, so don’t favor other forms of liquid to it.

Don’ts

1. Overeating

That you are eating for two does not mean you should eat more than is required. Instead of it being a plus you could end up endangering your health and that of the baby. You could also end up gaining excess weight which is not good for you, physically. Adding weight is natural for pregnant women but don’t force it by overfeeding yourself. Back pains and leg pains and even varicose veins(abnormally swollen or dilated veins) accompany excess weight.

2. Alcohol/smoking

Smoking and drinking alcohol are two unhealthy practices to steer clear of during pregnancy. Smoking is not safe for anyone and so it can’t be safe for your baby. There are many complications associated with smoking including low birth weight, miscarriage, premature labor, baby being stillborn, or even hyperactivity etc. Analogously, alcohol intake could lead to similar complications. Babies break down alcohol at a very slow pace in contrast to adults and may end up with high levels of alcohol in their bloodstream. Preferably, it is best to abstain from these two activities while pregnant for the sake of your baby. Don’t compromise by having just one shot, it could do more damage than you think. Worse still, getting drunk or high is the height of it; it’s a no-no!

3. Undercooked/overcooked foods

Undercooked foods are a good source of bacteria that are ‘anti-healthy baby.’ Make sure your food is properly cooked to avoid these. And while you ensure that, also see to it that they are not overcooked too. This applies more to starchy foods which may lead to the formation of a natural chemical, called acrylamide. This also is not a friendly chemical, it can cause problems for you. So when next you toast that piece of bread, take it out when it is pale brown not totally brown.

4. NO to Liver

Don’t eat liver or any of its many forms. It contains large amounts of the retinol form of vitamin A which threatens your baby’s health. For vitamin A or protein, consider other food types.

5. Dieting

Why would you want to do that? To shed some weight? To look sweet sixteen while pregnant? Cool…but watch it. It could be harmful to your baby. It needs a variety of nutrients got from different classes of food so a deficiency here and there could cause serious complications and by the way, don’t fret when you add weight…it is normal because you are pregnant, and it’s a good sign that all is well with your present status. What you can do, however, if you are overweight is to cut down on the fats and sugar you take or opt for exercises(if okayed by your midwife or doctor).

6. Certain fish

As much as fish is good for your baby owing to the invaluable nutrients it proffers, it could be antagonistic when it comes to certain types of fish. Some fishes such as Sharks, Swordfish, and even Tuna contain high amounts of mercury that is unsafe for you and your baby. So don’t just eat any fish that is prepared for you, find out what type of eating.

In conclusion, your baby’s health is determined by how disciplined you are when it comes to what you take in – solid or liquid, as well as the activities you engage in. It is your duty to ensure that its health is not jeopardized by any means. Always consult your pediatrician about what to do and what not to do, it pays to be curious.
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