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The Best Foods and Supplements for Pregnancy

Pregnancy Supplements and the Best Antenatal Foods

Looking for the Pregnancy Supplements? You’re pregnant, congratulations! If you’re looking to make the most of this beautiful time for both you and your babe in terms of your health and wellness you’ve probably started to look into the best foods to be eating during pregnancy and what pregnancy supplement might be helpful. Pregnant women do have different nutritional needs, so what do pregnant women require more of and what do they .need to be eating more of for optimal health and wellness for both mum and baby?

Nutritional Requirements During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman requires more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein than a woman who is not. Caloric needs for a pregnant woman stay the same during the first trimester and only go up to 200-300 additional calories per day in the second and third trimester. Most of these nutrients can be acquired through food but supplementation may also be advised if you have a vitamin deficiency or a special diet. For example, if you are vegan or vegetarian you might not be getting enough vitamin B12 or if you don’t consume enough iron-based foods you’ll be more prone to anemia. Further, vitamin D is often a vitamin that people are deficient in so supplementation may be recommended by your doctor.

Pregnancy Supplements – Folic Acid

Folic acid, or vitamin B9, is an essential and crucial vitamin for the development of the baby’s brain and in the prevention of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. It may be difficult to get enough folic acid through food so supplementation may be recommended by your doctor. For women who are trying to get pregnant, should take more folic acid by following your doctor’s advice.

Foods High in Folic Acid:

  • Beans
  • Citrus fruits
  • Dark leafy green vegetables
  • Fortified or enriched cereals
  • Wholegrain breads, pastas, and noodles

Pregnancy Supplements – Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is very important for a pregnant woman because if she is not getting enough the calcium will be drawn from the mother’s stores in her own bones to be given to the baby which puts the new mother at risk of bone-related diseases like osteoporosis. Vitamin D is important too as it works with calcium to help develop bones and teeth.

Foods High in Calcium and Vitamin D :

  • Fortified milk and soy milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Sardines or salmon with bones
  • Kale
  • Bok choy
  • Mushrooms (vitamin D)

Pregnancy Supplements – Iron

Women who are pregnant need more iron per day. The reason why pregnant women need more is that they need more blood to supply the baby with oxygen. To increase the absorption of iron, food, or supplement with vitamin C should be taken at the same time as vitamin C increases the body’s ability to absorb iron.  If not enough iron is consumed during pregnancy, the woman may get anemia which results in severe body and muscle fatigue.

Foods High in Iron :

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Firm tofu or tempeh
  • Pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews
  • Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach)

Pregnancy Supplements – Protein

Foods High in Protein :

  • Red meat
  • Poultry,
  • Fish,
  • Beans and legumes
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Tofu

Foods to Avoid if You’re Pregnant

This is a general guideline for what to avoid during pregnancy. If there is a food or supplement that you’re not sure about be sure to ask your doctor before consumption.

Caffeine

While not forbidden, pregnant women are generally advised to reduce their intake of caffeine as it is quickly absorbed into the placenta and the baby is not currently equipped to metabolize caffeine which may lead to a build-up and restrict fetal growth. Pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of caffeine to 2-3 cups per day.

High-Mercury Fish

Unfortunately, due to our oceans becoming more and more polluted, there are some types of fish that contain higher levels of mercury. Fish like tuna, mackerel, shark, and kingfish are high-mercury fish. High levels of mercury are extremely toxic to humans so it is advised that pregnant women severely restrict intake of high-mercury fish-types. Not all fish are considered high-mercury thankfully, and consumption of low-mercury fish is a good source of protein and omega-3s for the expecting mother and baby.  

Undercooked or Raw Meat/Fish

Raw fish, especially shellfish, can cause of a variety of infections. Pregnant women are also 20x more susceptible to ones like Listeria. Listeria is passed into the womb from the mother, even if the mother is showing no signs or symptoms. Listeria can cause pre-mature delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Raw meat as well as processed meat can also cause a variety of infections which can cause stillbirth and severe neurological illnesses such as intellectual disability, blindness and epilepsy in the baby.

Alcohol

Consumption of alcohol increases the risk of the baby having a condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) as well as miscarriage and stillbirth. As there is no indicated safe amount of alcohol consumption, pregnant women are advised to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy.  

Unpasteurized Food

Food and drink that is unpasteurized like raw dairy or juice increase the risk of the mother contracting Listeria, which as mentioned previously, pregnant women are extremely susceptible to.

Dong Quai

A popular Chinese remedy for menstrual cramps and high blood pressure, Dong Quai should be avoided by pregnant women as it may cause uterine contractions which raise the risk of a miscarriage.

Undercooked Eggs

Raw or undercooked eggs can contain Salmonella which can cause gastrointestinal infections resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever. In severe cases, it may cause the uterus to cramp which can result in premature or stillbirth. Pregnant women should always eat pasteurized eggs that are fully cooked.

Foods that commonly contain raw eggs :

  • Lightly scrambled eggs
  • Poached eggs
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Homemade mayonnaise
  • Salad dressings
  • Homemade ice cream
  • Cake icings

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