Nutrition During Pregnancy
What to Eat for a Healthy Pregnancy

Having the right nutrition during pregnancy could mean the difference between having a most enjoyable experience or being plagued with unpleasant symptoms.


Consider some of the problems that could arise during pregnancy and what foods you can eat to make a difference:

healthy foods for pregnancy


What is the right nutrition during pregnancy?

Having the right nutrition during pregnancy is more important than ever. To ensure the health of both mother and baby it's essential to have a healthy diet high in nutrients and fibre and low in bad fats and cholesterol.

Junk food is never good at any time of life, but you want to avoid it in your pregnancy diet. Also fried foods or too much coffee are not ideal.

Nutrients essential for maintaining health in pregnancy:

foods for a healthy pregnancy

The following nutrients should be included in any healthy nutrition during pregnancy:

Iron - 30 mg daily -to be taken with 100 mg of vitamin C for better absorption. Extra iron is needed during pregnancy. If you take iron supplements make sure to increase fibre intake as they can cause constipation.

Protein supplement - A lack of protein has been linked to birth defects. Use proteins mainly from a vegetable source, such as soy.

Quercitin - 500 mg daily - a valuable bioflavonoid that promotes proper circulation.

Vitamin B complex - 50-100 mg daily - to prevent deficiencies.

Folic acid - 400 mcg daily. Adequate levels of folic acid reduce the chance of birth defects such as spina bifida. It's recommended for women throughout the childbearing years and especially in the first 6 weeks of pregnancy. Since most women don't know they've conceived until several weeks afterward, the best way to prevent birth defects is for women who are planning to become pregnant to have an adequate supply of this nutrient at all times. Folic acid also helps alleviate hemorrhaging in childbirth and improves milk production.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids - 2,000 - 4,000 mg daily in divided doses - Larger doses taken before delivery may help reduce labour pain.

Zinc - 15 -25 mg daily - do not exceed 75 mg daily. Insufficient zinc intake may be a cause of low birth weight.

Acidophilus capsules to provide the necessary "friendly" bacteria to prevent candidiasis (yeast infection), protect the baby at birth and ensure proper assimilation of all the other nutrients.

Calcium - 1,500 mg daily - necessary for formation of healthy bones and teeth. May prevent hypertension and premature birth. To be balanced with magnesium - 750 mg.

Carotenoid complex with beta-carotene - 10,000 IU daily - precursor of vitamin A. Caution: Do not substitute vitamin A for beta carotene. Excessive intake of vitamin A during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects, such as cleft palate, heart defects and other congenital defects. Foods rich in vitamin A (such as liver) may also cause problems. Foods containing beta-carotene, however, are not harmful because the body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A only as needed and not in amounts that may be toxic to the body.

Co-enzyme Q10 - helps the body convert food to energy, enhance circulation and protect the heart.

Kelp - rich in necessary minerals and vitamin K.

Multimineral and trace mineral complex - for optimal health and to provide a balance of nutrients needed for fetal development.

Vitamin D3 - 1,000 IU daily - needed for calcium absorption and bone formation.

Vitamin E - 400 IU daily - premature and low birth weight infants are often deficient in vitamin E. Use d-alpha-tocopherol form. Caution: Do not take vitamin E during the last month of pregnancy.

Vitamin K or alfalfa - to prevent excessive bleeding.



Some herbs that can be added to the right nutrition during pregnancy

Some herbs can also be part of the right nutrition during pregnancy.

Generally speaking, it's important to use caution when taking any herbs during pregnancy, especially in the first twelve weeks.

The following herbs have been used without problems, but consult your doctor before taking any of them if you have any doubts.

Alfalfa is a good source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K, which is essential for normal blood clotting.

Blue cohosh, false unicorn root and squaw vine are beneficial taken in the last four weeks of pregnancy. They help to prepare the body for an easier birth and aid contractions. Caution: These herbs should not be taken in the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

Burdock root, dandelion, ginger and nettle help to enrich a mother's milk.

Red raspberry leaf tea helps the uterus contract more effectively.It also helps to enrich the mother's milk. Drink no more than 1 cup per day until the last four weeks of pregnancy. Then drink 1 quart/litre daily.

St.John's wort and shepherd's purse help uterine contractions at birth.

Some herbs to avoid during pregnancy are: aloe vera (internally), angelica, arnica, barberry, black cohosh, bloodroot, cat's claw, dong quai, ephedra, feverfew, ginseng, goldenseal, lobelia, sage, saw palmetto, turmeric.



Other recommendations to include in your nutrition during pregnancy

  • Don't consume junk food, fried foods or too much coffee.
  • Avoid eating rare or undercooked meat, poultry or fish. Don't eat grilled meats. Grilling has been shown to produce carcinogens in meat.
  • Don't smoke, consume alcohol in any form or use drugs, except as prescribed by your health care provider.
  • Don't take supplements containing the amino acid phenylalanine. Phenylalanine may alter brain growth in the fetus. Also avoid food products containing the sweetener aspartame, which contains high levels of phenylalanine.
  • Don't take mineral oil, which blocks the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Don't take any preparations containing shark cartilage during pregnancy. Shark cartilage inhibits the formation of new blood vessels, which is essential during pregnancy.
  • Men too should be healthy as they possibly can before they decide to have children. They should make sure to have an adequate intake of selenium, zinc, vitamins C and E and the carotenoids. Drugs such as marijuana, heroin, morphine and tobacco all reduce levels of male sex hormones and increase the risks of birth defects.

Having considered the right nutrition during pregnancy now you may want to look at some specific problems that can arise and what foods to eat for each one of them:



If you want to know all there is to know about pregnancy and have all your questioned answered have a look at this great website Pregnancy Friend by Jo Walker.



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REFERENCES:

Balch, P., CNC, (2000) Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-To-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, New York: Avery.

Pizzorno, J. E., Murray, M. T., Joyner-Bey, H., (2008) The Clinician's Handbook of Natural Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA:Churchill Livingstone.




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