Women who are trying to conceive or have plans in the near future for having a baby should, no doubt, eat a healthy and balanced diet for their sake as well as that of their baby. What foods are particularly important to include so that Mom and Baby are healthy and well?
Diet is number one when it comes to pregnancy planning, so this list should be carefully heeded.
Include These Foods (The Three F’s)
Folic acid is a key protective vitamin that all women should be ingesting, regardless of their plans to have or not have children; but when pregnancy is being planned, it’s all the more important. Folic acid protects against neural tube defects in the unborn child, which can occur in the first month of pregnancy. The vitamin can be taken in that first month, but women should actually start a lot sooner incorporating folic acid into their daily regimen.
Folic acid helps to create new cells, so that the body is constantly repairing itself. This process keeps bodily systems running smoother, which is especially helpful to the reproductive system where conception and pregnancy take place. Women’s bodies should be prepared as a healthy environment for a growing baby to develop, and folic acid helps to smooth the way.
Fish is another great food to prepare the body for pregnancy. It’s because fish is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Fish is also brain food, due largely to the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Omega-3s strengthen fertility so your attempts to get pregnant are more likely to be successful, sharpen the neurological systems of Mom-to-be and the unborn child, and aid in the proper growth of the baby.
Five Food Groups – The important thing to remember here is that you want a well-balanced diet, so that includes foods from all food groups. Now, of course fruits, vegetables, protein and water should top your list – even if pregnancy isn’t an issue.
Calcium-rich foods are also a must, since your body should be strong enough to support the extra weight of a growing baby. These are just better for overall health, but in order to get adequate nutrition you will need to combine all types of foods. Here are a few selections from each food group:
- Whole Grain – Foods like oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread, fortified cereal, and wheat pasta
- Fruits – Watermelon, grapes, apples, peaches, pears, oranges and bananas are all good choices.
- Vegetables – Asparagus, spinach, green beans, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, squash, zucchini, broccoli, etc.
- Dairy – Yogurt, cheese, and milk
- Meat & Poultry – Fish, chicken, turkey, seafood, lean beef, eggs, beans, nuts, etc.
Avoid These Foods
Foods to avoid include seafood with high levels of mercury, such as blue crabs, swordfish, jack mackerel and shark; sugary, salty and fatty foods; alcohol; and rare, undercooked or unclean food of all kinds.