Eat Your Vitamins
Whether you’re expecting or planning to be, taking the right vitamins can help ensure you have a healthy baby. Even before you take a pregnancy test, what you’re eating will affect your unborn child. For example, if a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least one month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These defects, such as spina bifida, usually occur in the first three to four weeks of pregnancy. The CDC suggests taking 400 mg of folic acid a day. Folic acid is a member of the B-Vitamin family, and it can be found in leafy greens, beans, fortified breakfast cereals, enriched grains and prenatal pills.
Munch on Fruits and VeggiesEspecially when the cravings set in, it’ll be hard to convince yourself to reach for whole wheat grains or carrot sticks instead of a sugary snack. But there are plenty of options that will satisfy your sweet tooth while still providing the health benefits you need. Before you’re pregnant, make it a habit to munch on fruits and veggies. Oranges, honeydew, tomatoes and strawberries are great sources of Vitamin C, which pregnant women need 70 mg of a day, according to Web MD. Spinach, apricots, carrots and sweet potatoes can meet your Vitamin A needs, which you’ll want to eat every other day when pregnant. Other suggestions to consider:
- Fill your plate with at least 50 to 60 percent of vegetables at each meal.
- Eat a rainbow of colors to get ample nutrition.
- Munch on vegetables throughout the day rather than carbs.
Get More Calcium
Calcium helps build strong teeth and bones, as well as allows blood to clot normally and muscle and nerves to function properly. When you’re pregnant, your baby needs plenty of calcium to develop. If you’re body doesn’t receive all that it needs, it will take the calcium stored in your bones to help the baby grow, according to Web MD. This can decrease your bone mass and put you at risk for osteoporosis. Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, according to the CDC. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, cream soups and pudding are great sources of calcium, as are green vegetables (broccoli and spinach), seafood and beans.
Foods to Avoid
Pregnant women are more susceptible to food-borne illnesses. These infections can negatively affect you and your baby, therefore, the CDC suggests avoiding these foods during pregnancy:
- Unpasteurized milk or cheese, including Brie, feta and blue cheese
- Seafood high in mercury, such as swordfish and king mackerel
- Raw or undercooked seafood, such as shellfish, oysters and clams
- Processed meats, such as hot dogs and bologna, unless heated until steaming hot
- Unwashed fruits and vegetables, as well as raw sprouts such as alfalfa, clover and radishes
Up the Iron Intake
Once you’re pregnant, your doctor will likely to give you iron supplements, but you can start them now. Iron helps build your immune system and eliminate symptoms of tiredness, irritability, weakness and depression, according to Web MD. Besides supplements, you can also get the iron you need from leafy greens, lean meats, poultry and oatmeal.