Prenatal Health Series: Nutrition During Pregnancy

Posted on by Paula Gallagher

prenatal-nutritionCongratulations, you are pregnant! Now what? Over the next few weeks we will look at nutrition, exercise, sleep habits and more regarding women's health during pregnancy. This week, we'll look at nutrition. Nutrition during pregnancy usually requires an increased need for vitamins and minerals. Deficiency or excess of any of a number of nutrients can lead to birth defects and/or complications during pregnancy. Diet – Eating a diet that is nutritious diet will not only keep you healthy, but it will also help the baby growing in you. Focus on whole fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, quality protein (eggs, nuts, chicken and fish), and keep hydrated. Read food labels carefully and try to avoid foods that contain trans fatty acids and partially hydrogenated oils, including margarine, shortening and most processed foods. Studies have shown that the higher the intake of trans fatty acids, the greater the risk of delivering a premature baby. These fats interfere with fetal development, especially in the brain. Avoid soft, unpasteurized cheeses, raw or smoked fish, and pates and deli meats. These can all contain bacteria that would be harmful for the baby. Omega 3s – One of the more important omega-3 fatty acids for fetal development is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is essential for proper brain and eye development. DHA is important for all ages, but it is particularly important for pregnant and nursing women because significant brain and eye development occurs while the fetus is in the womb and continues during the first year after birth. Infants rely on their mothers to supply DHA initially through the placenta and then through breast milk. I took (and still take) Nordic Naturals Pro DHA, and once my kids were old enough to bite down on the capsules, they started taking it too! Prenatal Vitamin – For many woman, taking a prenatal vitamin is a tough pill to swallow. Nausea can seriously hinder a woman's ability to take a vitamin. Thorne Basic Prenatal is gentle, void of unnecessary ingredients, and does not include large amounts of the nutrients commonly known to cause stomach upset. Instead, the nutrients included are chosen to be of the utmost value for a pregnant woman. Photo from here, with thanks.