Pregnancy is simultaneously the most exciting and the most terrifying period in a woman’s life. Besides all of its beauties, it also carries a lot of worries with it, because during that time, a woman has two lives to take care of. Suddenly, you are in charge for health of one more human being and you must take that responsibility seriously. A healthy diet, above all, will help your baby grow strong, and there are some vitamins and minerals which are essential for a healthy development. Some of them will be possible to intake through regular diet, while any nutritional gap in your diet will have to be covered in other ways.
Now, let us consider which nutrients do you and your baby need the most and how to consume them.
This vitamin is in charge of regulating the amount of phosphate and calcium in the body, which are essential for keeping the bones and teeth healthy. Because your baby’s bones are yet to be developed, consuming enough vitamin D is crucial to avoid softening the bones or getting rickets (a disease affecting bone development in children). Natural sources of vitamin D are oily fish (sardines, salmons and mackerel), meat and eggs. It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from natural sources alone, so you should look up for alternatives, such as supplements or sun exposure (less than you need to start tanning).
Vitamin C protects cells and helps maintaining them healthy. When it comes to this nutrient, there is no need for drastic changes in your nutritional habits. A balanced diet containing vegetables and fruits, such as citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, and blackcurrants will provide you and your baby with enough of vitamin C.
Similar as vitamin D, calcium is crucial for proper growth of your baby’s bones and teeth. It can also prevent you from losing your own bone density, which is a common thing, because the baby uses calcium from your body for its own bone development. Natural sources of calcium you should include in your diet are dairy products, fish, cereals, dried fruit, tofu, almonds, bread, broccoli and green leafy vegetables. Natural calcium supplements are sometimes needed to increase the bone density and make sure you provide enough of this nutrient for both you and your baby.
Women in pregnancy often feel very tired and sleepy. That is sometimes caused by the lack of iron. This shortage can also lead to anemia, in some cases. To prevent such outcomes, you should consume green leafy vegetables, lean meat, nuts and dried fruits. Also, some breakfast cereals have iron added. When your iron becomes low in pregnancy, your doctor or your midwife will recommend iron supplements.
In some cases, a doctor will recommend taking prenatal vitamins – pills which contain mixture of various vitamins and minerals needed in pregnancy. Usually those are the previously mentioned vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, calcium and iodine, folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, zinc, etc. Some of them have special tasks when it comes to your baby’s health. Folic acid, for instance, should prevent any neutral tube defect in early pregnancy, while iodine helps you maintain a healthy thyroid function. A deficiency of iodine can lead to stunted physical growth, deafness and mental disability.
The best way to be sure you will get a healthy and a happy baby is by living a healthy life with balanced diet and good habits. Consult your doctor to check about some specific needs of your pregnancy, if there are ones.