A pregnant woman needs a lot of mental and physical strength to endure the mountainous changes that come her way. Her body is creating a new life, supplying blood and food to it. It’s a wonder that is beyond human comprehension. It has always amazed me how delicate, intricate and robust the whole process is. Did you know an unborn child can differentiate between her mother’s and father’s touch? The child will likely try to touch the stomach lining from the inside. I have felt it firsthand, and I wouldn’t trade it for a million bucks.
Well, now that my bubba is one and gets on my nerves every other minute, I might trade for a donut! (Winks, I won’t!)
Eating well during the time of pregnancy is exceptionally crucial and extremely difficult at the same time. The hormonal changes followed by mood swings and morning sickness make it even more challenging to focus on food. It becomes additionally more difficult when meal planning and nutritional need comes to the picture.
My personal experience of eating well and eating for the baby during pregnancy.
My pregnancy had started well without any morning sickness. However, my hormones had started making me crazy by the end of the first trimester. I would fight relentlessly with my husband in the morning and then cry about fighting with him after leaving for work. By evening I would cool down and eagerly wait for him to come back home.
All this mental trauma and anticipating all the changes that might come my way had started taking a toll on my body. I had my immunity to take care of, my diets, doctor visits, and so much more. It was too many things on my plate at the same time. I would eat whenever I was hungry and usually not plan my meals. Eventually, my sugar levels went off, and I needed to plan my meals very strategically. It was the time when I understood the value of having a doctor who empathized with me. My doctor worked closely with me and helped me plan a diet that was interesting and nutritional at the same time.
It was not the tastiest of diets for sure but was interesting. Some days I would eat raw capsicums in all three colors. Some other days I would snack on steamed carrots and beans. The advantage of having a balanced diet is, you get to eat a little of everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly; all in the right proportion. It also ensured that I never took any food group for granted. I fell in love with fibrous foods and loved how they made my stomach feel fuller and cleaner.
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Here is our list of 4 food groups that make up a healthy pregnant woman’s diet.
Folic acid: Folic acid is a synthetic or a chemically charged version of folate, that is, vitamin B9. It helps the body to break down, use, and then generate new proteins. It also plays a significant role in the DNA creation and development of the embryonic neural tube. It eventually helps the spinal cord and the baby’s brain to develop and close properly. Folic acid also aids in developing the circulatory system and the heart of the baby.
All in all, folic acid ensures that your baby doesn’t have any significant developmental concerns. Folic acid is water-soluble and passes through the mother’s urine. A new mother has to replenish her quota of folic acid regularly.
As most congenital disabilities develop in the initial weeks, doctors advise getting enough folic acid as early as possible.
Calcium: Calcium is essential for a woman in general. It helps further when the woman is growing a child within her. Calcium helps in increasing the child’s bones and teeth. It also plays a significant role in keeping your skeletal strength in order. If you do not consume enough calcium, the body will get depleted of its tock and prioritize growing the child. A lot of women face the problem of bone loss during pregnancy. Some even complain of brittle bones after delivering the child.
A pregnant woman needs around 1000 mg of calcium daily. It will ensure that both your and the baby’s bones and teeth do not suffer.
Iron: A human body makes use of iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to your tissues. We have all read about this in school, haven’t we? It’s funny how unrealistic it feels to remember that things we read in school were actual life facts.
A pregnant woman needs double the amount of iron to supply enough oxygen to the baby growing within her. During pregnancy, the deficiency of iron becomes extremely painful for the mother as her body’s stores start getting depleted. The condition is known as anemia and makes the mother extremely tired and weak. Severe cases could lead to premature births and low weight of the child.
27 mg of iron in a day is a good amount of iron for a pregnant woman. Women can take the required amount of iron in supplements or daily food items rich in iron.
Protein: Protein helps in developing the unborn child’s tissues, muscles, and also its brain. A pregnant mother is also benefitted from protein consumption, as it helps develop breast and uterine tissues. Protein needs keep on increasing as the child grows inside the womb. Proteins play a delicate role in structuring everything in a baby’s body, be it the nail, the hair, or the muscles. It also helps in their functioning and also allows them to repair themselves when they break.
A pregnant woman may need around 70-100 mg of protein, based on her weight and how far she is pregnant.
Recommended Pregnancy Foods
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale
- Poultry and dried beans of varied colors
- Iron-fortified cereals
- Meats and fish of certain kinds
I used to drink a glass of spinach and banana smoothie on some days. It does taste raw but is incredibly fresh smelling, and tasty too. You could include beans salads along with eggs on some days too.
- Cheeses of all kinds
- Chicken breasts and thighs
- Legumes and beans
I was a sucker for all things cheesy while I was carrying my child. I used to make wholewheat pasta in white sauce and lots of vegetables. It made for a very fulfilling meal and was extremely tasty too. However, too much cheese can make you gassy too.
Folate rich foods:
- Leafy green vegetables like cabbage, kale and spring onion, etc
- Chickpeas and kidney beans
- Citrus fruits
- Bread and pasta
I loved and still love savory chaats made at home. A squeeze of lemon and some diced onion can make nearly any beans edible. I also used to make hummus and use it as a spread for my fruits and bread.
- Cheese and dips
- Sardines and salmons
I survived days on yogurts and buttermilks. I remember having a glass of milk without fail every day. Having milk during pregnancy is difficult for some women but is highly beneficial in the long run.
It is essential to check the nutritional value of everything during the initial days. It makes sense when you understand that healthy foods in excess can be harmful too. A pregnant woman should not be eating only cottage cheese curries because cheese is a good idea. Neither should she be munching on a lot of oranges because vitamin C is essential. There needs to be a delicate balance between the two; it cant be an excess or limited supply of any food group. One needs to have a little of everything. It’s a delicate balance that becomes a way of life with some practice. And soon, you will be able to plan meals which have a little of everything and is still interesting.
Need help with meal planning? Let me know in the comments section below if you want me to share my super-secret and super-rich pregnancy food recipes.