by Michaela Pershe, Birthright of Pittsburgh Volunteer
When most people think of a diet, the most common thought that comes to mind is a strict regimen of foods you can’t eat — usually with the goal to lose weight. The purpose of a good prenatal diet, however, is not to lose weight and it is not to be super restrictive. Rather, diet in the pregnancy context refers to the types of food that are better for you to eat to you’re your baby’s development as well as your own health!
It’s easy to brush off prenatal nutrition by thinking: “Oh, I’m eating for two now. I’ll just double up on calories.” However, the amount of calories you consume doesn’t matter as much as the quality of foods you eat. Your baby is busy growing inside of you and using nutrients from your body to become healthy and strong before delivery. Without additional nutrients from your diet or food choices, the baby will take nutrients from your body and you might feel more tired, weak and out of sorts because your body doesn’t have sufficient vitamins and nutrients to keep you going as well.
It is important to begin by talking with your doctor and following recommendations for a good prenatal vitamin. There are many prenatal vitamins on the market making it difficult to choose one.
Magnesium and Vitamin C are both crucial to good development as well as folic acid. A natural, plant-based prenatal vitamin will be the most helpful and healthful because they rely on natural ingredients instead of sugars and other artificial fillers. You can distinguish between these and other prenatal vitamins by looking at the ingredients list and searching for those that indicate they are real food, such as “oranges” or “cherries” instead of an ambiguous reference to “Vitamin C.” The more vague the vitamin listing, the more likely it is from an artificial or overworked source. It is important to ask your doctor for names of good brands of prenatal vitamins to take at one of your appointments. Your doctor will recommend the best prenatal vitamins you should begin taking.
Another way to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy is to look at the types of food you are eating and prefer “whole” foods instead of foods that are processed, prepackaged or prefrozen.
Healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins are all crucial to supplying energy and vitamins for you and your baby. Some examples of healthy carbs include: sweet potatoes, wild or brown rice, carrots, oats, quinoa and whole wheat. A slice of Ezekiel toast is filled with healthy carbohydrates and nutrients when served with eggs and/or Greek yogurt! Healthy fats include: avocados, olives, peanut butter, coconut oil.
A diet with good protein is a crucial building block for bones, muscles and blood! Good sources of protein include: eggs, chicken, turkey, sprouted or soaked lentils, split peas, beans, homemade bone broth and whole fat dairy products such as, yogurt, kefir or aged cheese.
A good mixture of raw and cooked fruits and vegetables contributes to good nutrition!
If you followed a certain diet or lifestyle before pregnancy, speak with your doctor about ways to continue these patterns for you and your baby. You should always speak to your doctor or care practitioner about any kind of diet or foods you might want to eat during pregnancy to make sure it is safe for both you and your little one.
Good nutrition is important all the time, not only when you are pregnant. However, it is especially important during this time of your life when your body is growing and supporting another little person and when you go to deliver. It is crucial for both your own health and your baby’s development so you can both be stronger and happier.
- The Mama Natural: Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland (pages 19-31) 2017 Edition.