Pregnancy is a vital and most sensitive phase of a woman’s life. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet during this period is crucial. Expecting mothers need to pay close attention to what they eat and drink. There are certain foods that affect baby in womb positively or negatively. They should refrain themself from taking any food that may pose danger to the baby or to themselves.
Does Food Pass from Mother to Baby?
The food you eat travels from the esophagus to the stomach. It’s in mother’s tummy, the food breaks down into soluble glucose, proteins, and fats. Once digested, the food gets absorbed in the blood and The blood carries the food from the mother to the baby in the womb through the placenta. Placenta rejects toxic constituents that can harm the fetus and absorb the rest. Although major noxious elements get filtered out, tiny components still get passed through it, like oxygen, glucose, medicinal components, water, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, etc.
After they have penetrated the bloodstream, these components are carried on to the fetus by the umbilical cord. So, what you eat, you may or may not know it, but your baby is relishing the same. Pregnant women need additional nutrients and vitamins. Not every food is safe to eat at this time. The extra calories consumed are essential for the baby’s growth and development.
A healthy diet prescribed in pregnancy must include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, water, and other essentials. Check for dietary guidelines from health care providers or any reliable resource. This will help moms-to-be to determine how many servings of each kind of food to eat every day.
Check for the labels. Labels can tell what kinds of nutrients are in the food. Choosing healthy, wholesome foods, will ensure the health of moms and the baby, plus it would also help in losing the pregnancy weight after giving birth.
Foods that Affect the Fetal Development
Calcium and proteins are required for cell growth, blood production, strengthening bones and teeth, muscle contraction, and functioning of nerves. Dairy products provide the necessary nutrients for the growing fetus. Two types of high-quality proteins present in these products are casein and whey. Dairy is the best source of calcium and phosphorus in large amounts. It also suffices various B group vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.
Pregnant women are advised Yoghurt. It contains more calcium than other dairy products along with probiotic bacteria, which is highly beneficial for expecting moms. It maintains healthy digestion. Probiotic bacteria also lower risk of complications during pregnancy such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, allergies, and vaginal yeast infections.
Legumes are nutritional powerhouses and excellent sources of folate, which are baby building blocks and reduces the risk of birth defects as well as of other diseases, potassium, iron, magnesium, and essential fatty acids.
Legumes are plants with a seedpod that splits in half. Beans, peas, soybeans, peanuts and lentils are included in legumes. They contain compounds called phytochemicals which prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Legumes also provide soluble fibre which can help prevent constipation and haemorrhoids, which are common problems in pregnancy.
Sweet potatoes are the best source of energy in the form of starch. Although they lack proteins and fats, they are well-stocked with other nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B7, etc. Doctors recommend expecting mom to consume at least 800 micrograms of Vitamin A which is crucial in the growth of organs of the fetus like the heart, lungs, blood, kidneys, and so on.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is another important nutrient found in sweet potatoes which helps in the formation of a functioning brain and nervous system in the fetus. However, overconsumption of sweet potatoes can lead to Hypervitaminosis, a condition in which fetal abnormalities can occur such as physical defects, liver damage, or preterm births.
Salmon has a great nourishing value and the fact that it is extremely delicious doesn’t hurt either. It is a low-fat fish and one of the most nutritious fish available. That is why it protects the baby and mom from many diseases.
It is rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids which are known to build the brain. It has more benefits such as providing great cardiovascular health, improved eyesight, and enhancement of the nervous system. It is also full of proteins and vitamins that are highly instrumental in maintaining optimal levels of blood pressure. Studies suggest that salmon helps in preventing premature delivery and also helps prevent postpartum depression in moms.
However, too much of anything is bad and salmon is no exception to that rule. Excess consumption of salmon can lead to a risk of cancer as it contains PCB, Polychlorinated biphenyls, that are carcinogenic in nature. Moms should make sure that they buy salmon from a trusted source and well-cooked without too much spice.
Lean meat such as beef, mutton, and chicken are great streams of high-quality protein. Beef and pork are rich in iron, choline, and other B group vitamins that are needed during pregnancy.
Since blood volume increases at this time, expecting moms need more iron, which is an essential mineral used by red blood cells as a part of hemoglobin. Low levels or deficiency of iron may cause anemia and doubles the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight.
Eating red meat and foods that rich in Vitamin C such as lemon, oranges and other citrus fruits or bell peppers may help increase the amount of iron acquired from the diet.
Processed Junk Foods
Nothing beats the taste of junk foods. And it’s craving reaches sky-high during pregnancy. However, it is the time when moms should avoid undesirable and unhealthy foods. A good amount of nutrients is needed by the baby for its growth and unfortunately, junk foods do not help meet these nutritional needs. There is an increased risk of allergies and asthma.
Chances of genetic abnormalities can also get high by the consumption of junk food. French fries, bread, potato chips, etc., have a high content of starch turned into acrylamide which can lead to low birth weights in babies.
Moreover, moms can gain excess weight during pregnancy by eating junk foods that may lead to complications such as miscarriage, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes.
Dry fruits are safe to consume during pregnancy as they are a storehouse of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fiber. Dry fruits contain crucial vitamins like B1-B9, C, K, E and H, plus they satiate hunger easily.
Calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants are also found in dry fruits. They help in preventing constipation, which occurs due to hormonal changes. Dried figs and dates contain iron which is integral to a healthy pregnancy.
Prunes are also known to strengthen the muscles of the uterus for a smooth delivery and it reduces the chances of post-delivery bleeding.
Being well-hydrated during pregnancy is very important for pregnant moms as well as their growing fetus. Water carries oxygen and other essential nutrients to the baby. It is one of the main components required for the production of breast milk.
Water keeps moms away from preterm labor and contractions. It aids in digestion and staying well hydrated prevents problems such as morning sickness, heartburn, and acidity.
What moms eat during pregnancy affects their energy as well as the baby’s well-being. It directly affects the health and growth of the fetus which makes it important for moms to avoid all harmful dishes and diets. Since calorie and nutrient requirements are increased, it’s necessary for pregnant moms to opt for nutrient-dense, wholesome foods.
Putting on some pounds during pregnancy is okay, but it’s better to put weight in a healthy way. This benefits the baby, mom and her health during pregnancy and after birth . This list may be helpful and should be a healthy beginning towards a well-nourished pregnancy.