After you receive the great news that you’re expecting a baby, you are going to have a million and one different things running through your mind. You’ll be excited about all the times that lie ahead and likely have a to-do list that goes on for pages of all the things that you want to do to get yourself ready.
Along with all this excitement, one thing that you definitely need to make sure you do at this point is start thinking about how you are going to best take care of yourself so that you have a healthy pregnancy period and give birth to an incredibly healthy baby.
What you eat on a daily basis is not only going to impact your health as well as the growth and development of your baby, but it will also influence the amount of weight you gain throughout this time as well as how much energy you have on a day-to-day basis.
Let’s take a look at some of the key points to remember about eating well throughout pregnancy.
Get Your Calorie Intake In Check
The very first thing that you’ll want to do now that you’re pregnant is make sure that you’re consuming an appropriate number of calories. The last thing you want to do is try dieting during this period as obviously that’s only going to seriously hinder the growth of the baby.
If you are currently underweight, then you can expect to gain a little more weight than the average person to bring yourself up to a healthy weight as well as gain the appropriate 25-35 pounds over the course of the next nine months.
Since you are going to require more energy on a daily basis in order to support the growth and development of your new baby, you can expect to eat somewhere between 200-300 calories more than what you require to maintain your weight.
Most women of an average weight will have maintenance calorie intakes of around 1800-2000 calories, so you can expect to bring your calorie intake up to 2000-2300 during this time period. The fact of the matter is that many women vastly overconsume in calories and often take in levels of around 3000-3500 as they ‘eat for two’ which is why they end up with a 50 pound weight gain rather than 25.
Remember that adding 200-300 calories to your daily diet doesn’t take much – a half a sandwich, a glass of milk with a banana, or 5 crackers smeared with peanut butter, so it’s not like you really have to eat all that much more food throughout the pregnancy period.
Making sure your calorie intake is in check is going to be the most important thing to ensure that your weight gain progresses along at a comfortable pace.
Focus On Plenty Of Lean Proteins And Whole Grains
Moving on, the next thing that you must remember throughout the pregnancy period is to choose plenty of lean proteins as well as whole grains. The protein is going to help to supply the raw materials that will be necessary to foster the development of the baby while the whole gains will supply the energy to complete the process.
Terrific lean protein sources to consume during pregnancy include chicken breast, lean red meat (make sure it’s fully cooked, not close to rare), fish (also fully cooked), and pasteurized eggs. Low fat dairy products such as skim milk, cottage cheese, and eggs are also great to have so make sure that you’re including them in your diet plan.
On the whole grains side of things, the top choices to turn to are oats, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and breads, and bran cereals.
Be sure that you’re taking in plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables while pregnant as well as these will supply a host of vitamins and minerals to the body while also helping to keep your total calorie intake in check so it doesn’t get too high as you give into high-calorie and high-fat food cravings.
Know Which Foods To Avoid
Now, there are some foods that you must avoid throughout the pregnancy period so learning what these are will go a long way towards ensuring that you do have as safe of a pregnancy as possible.
First, you must avoid any forms of raw meat or fish as these are going to put you at a much higher risk of contracting food poisoning.
In addition to that, any raw eggs or foods made with raw eggs (mayonnaise, Caesar dressing, eggnog, etc) should also be avoided. Soft cheeses are another food to stay away from as these may also contain bacteria that could put your baby at risk and high mercury containing fish should be the next food to avoid as this can be extremely devastating to your baby’s health.
The fish varieties that do tend to contain the most mercury include shark, swordfish, mackerel, tilefish, and albacore tuna. If you can stick to chunk light tuna, cod, tilapia, and salmon instead, you should fare much better.
Deli meat should also be avoided due to the high volume of preservatives that it contains as should artificial sweeteners which may increase your risk of preterm delivery.
Finally, it should almost go without stating but staying away from all alcohol will be vital and you will also want to limit your caffeine consumption as much as possible as well. One cup of coffee a day shouldn’t be too harmful but past that, choose herbal tea instead.
Add In Plenty Of Calcium,
Finally, in order to support a very healthy pregnancy, it’s going to be important to think about some of the nutrients that you will require in higher dosages. This includes calcium, folic acid, vitamin D, and iron.
Great sources of these foods include milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, spinach, and enriched breads and cereals.
Many women choose to supplement with a folic acid, calcium, and iron supplement, so be sure to speak to your physician about this to see if it’s a smart move for you to do.
So there you have some of the key points to remember about what to eat throughout your pregnancy. If you can be sure to structure your meal plan properly, eating a well balanced diet that is slightly higher in calories than what you’d normally eat, then you can feel confident that you’re going to have an enjoyable and healthy pregnancy period.