Motherhood is probably the best phase in a woman’s life. A child is definitely the greatest gift of God to us. The moment you hold the little one in your hand, it seems to erase all the pains of life and bring a smile on your face. Your child deserves all the happiness in the world and as a mother; you have added responsibilities towards your child. Your duty begins from the minute he/she starts growing in your womb, and if you want to give your child a healthy start to his/her journey of life, you must never compromise with the food you eat during pregnancy. You and your baby need all the nutrients in proportionate amounts to keep you both going in those 9 months. You need to be strong to keep your baby healthy. Therefore, if you are pregnant and wondering about the best foods for pregnancy, what to eat and what not to, continue reading this post. As today, I will be talking about 16 best foods for pregnancy and what you should eat while pregnant. I will also be discussing about what foods to avoid during pregnancy.
Increasing cases of pregnancy complications are reported every year and so the mother has to be extra careful in those nine months for the fetus to develop properly. Many women are weak and are not able to handle the whole procedure, which may lead to miscarriages. In fact, not just a weak body, but sometimes the intake of unhealthy foods or inhaling injurious gases also affects the fetus and often causes birth defects. Although, we cannot always guarantee a problem-free pregnancy, but if you maintain a proper food chart, you can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications largely.
I will be discussing about the top 16 best foods for pregnancy but before that, I want to talk about few most common pregnancy complications that you might face and that you must be aware of.
Common pregnancy complications that you must be aware of
Pregnancy comes with various complications and you must be aware of all of them in order to avoid the risk of their occurrence. Although there can be a number of issues and complications during pregnancy, here are the most common complications that are noted during pregnancy.
- Premature labor and birth
- High blood pressure/Hypertension
- Fetal problems (born with certain health problem)
- Oligohydramnios (Low amniotic fluid)
- Gestational diabetes
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Placenta previa
- Placental abruption
- Hyperemesis gravidarum
Now that we have learnt about several common pregnancy complications, let us begin with the list of best foods for pregnancy and what to eat and avoid while pregnant.
Best Foods for Pregnancy: what to eat while pregnant
Following a healthy diet chart is essential for a healthy living and during pregnancy, it gets mandatory as eating unhealthy will not just put you at risk but will also affect the baby. Therefore, be a responsible mother and incorporate the following ingredients in your food chart.
Here is the list of 16 best foods for pregnancy:
Eat sweet potatoes during pregnancy
Sweet potatoes must be included in your diet chart in case you are pregnant because this is one of the best and healthiest food for pregnancy. This is because it contains Vitamin A, which is very essential for proper embryonic growth of your baby. It also helps in the development of the other parts like the central nervous system, heart, bones, kidneys, eyes, lungs etc. It can aid you in case of postpartum tissue repair, fights infections as well as strengthens the overall immune system.
Not just Vitamin A, sweet potatoes also contain Vitamin B6, which as per reports has the ability to reduce the feeling of nausea and vomiting that are common pregnancy side effects.
Sweet potatoes mainly the purple ones has anti-inflammatory properties that can act and reduce your swellings during the advanced stages of pregnancy. So, it is advisable if you eat adequate sweet potatoes during your pregnancy. However, it is better if you bake them instead of boiling or frying to get the maximum good effects.
Eat salmon during pregnancy
You are free to eat salmon during pregnancy, all thanks to the presence of healthy omega-3 fatty acids that as per reports is great for proper development of brain in newborn baby. Besides, salmon also contains DHA and EPA those according to modern research enhances IQ levels as well as lead to less neurological problems and great motor skills.
Studies have also stated that although there are restrictions of fish consumptions during pregnancy, salmon is a safe fish to eat due to its low mercury levels and hence recommended along with other fishes like shrimp, catfish, canned light tuna etc.
Salmons also contain various other minerals and nutrients with Vitamin B12 being a significant one, whose deficiency often leads to developmental issues in infants as per “Mayo Clinic” reports.
Eat avocados during pregnancy
If you love avocados, keep eating them even during pregnancy as its is one of the healthiest ingredients that contains folic acid, that helps in proper organ development and can prevent neural birth defects. In addition, avocado is rich in iron, which is highly beneficial to combat anemia in expecting mothers.
Avocado is also a rich source of vitamins mainly Vitamin B6, that as per modern science is good to deal with the problem of morning sickness in pregnant mothers.
Eat beans during pregnancy
Beans are a great option for the pregnant mothers especially if you are a vegetarian as they are great meat alternatives. The zinc content in beans is good in DNA construction, cell division and growth of tissues in fetuses. The other ingredient phosphorus found in beans works with the calcium to enable stronger bone and oral health of the baby. Phosphorus also helps to utilize nutrients, improves hormonal balances and helps in the formation of proteins.
Besides, zinc and phosphorus, beans are rich in fiber and can fulfill the daily requirements of fiber of around 28 grams in pregnant mothers.You can also tackle the problem of anemia with beans due to the presence of iron in them. So, why wait, start eating beans right away.
Eat whole grains during pregnancy
After you conceive, the daily requirement of fiber increases to 28 grams but sadly, most women hardly gets even half of it. So, in such a scenario it is important to eat foods containing rich fiber, and whole grains are definitely one of them. Whole grain intake can help you to fight common pregnancy side effects of frequent cramps and constipation also.
In fact, not just fiber, whole grains contain a wide range of nutrients and antioxidants that according to “JN the Journal of Nutrition”, helps you in curing a whole lot of health issues and hence can be definitely counted among the best foods for pregnancy. Among the other nutrients present, carbohydrates boost energy levels in pregnant mothers and considered good for the child. These carbs often gets broken into sugar and then are passed to the growing baby with the help of placenta.
The vitamins found are also good for the overall growth and development of the baby’s body. So, make sure you have included whole grains in your pregnancy diet chart.
Eat lean meat during pregnancy
As per reports, the daily requirement of protein during pregnancy is minimum 75 grams and so lean meat, that is rich in protein is an important food that you must include in your diet chart. The amino acids in protein help in the process of cell formation in the baby. Lean meat is also rich in vitamins and iron with iron contributing in the development of red blood cells of your child.
In addition, lean meats contain healthy fats that supply the women with the needed calories while pregnant. They also aid to metabolize the various essential vitamins. Therefore, eat lean meats in adequate amounts and keep both you and your baby strong. However, stay clear from red meat and other fatty connective tissues.
Eat date fruit during pregnancy
Dried fruits are important to eat and is a good way to get more calories. It is the perfect snack rich in iron, fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. However, among all others dried fruits, dates deserve a special mention. Dates are high in potassium, plant compounds, fiber and iron- all those that are essential during pregnancy.
Research has shown that women, who eat dates in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy, have lower risk of induced labor. Besides, dates also help in cervical dilation.
However, try to eat the organic all natural ones and avoid the ones of candied variety, as they contain excess sugar.
Eat carrots during pregnancy
The health benefits of carrots cannot be ignored and it is definitely one of the best foods for pregnancy. It contains Vitamin A and C, that helps in movement and sight and also keeps the immune system of the mother strong (that may get weakened during pregnancy phrase).
The rich content of iron in carrots also helps in the formation of red blood cells and prevents the occurrence of anemia in expecting mothers. Carrots also contain other ingredients like calcium, fiber, potassium, beta-carotene, all of which are highly nutritious for a pregnant body.
These various antioxidants help to flush out the toxic free radicals from your system. They also help to lower bad cholesterol, improve eyesight, protect DNA and fight various diseases. However, eat carrots in adequate amounts and not over-consume as the carotene present may interfere with the baby’s growth.
Eat leafy vegetables during pregnancy
Green leafy vegetables are essential for everyone and during pregnancy, it becomes mandatory for you to eat them. The leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts etc are rich in folate that is very important for a pregnant mother. The folate or folic acid prevents the occurrence of birth defects in the spine or brain of your baby. Moreover, since, such birth defects are common within the first 4 weeks of conceiving, so doctors often recommend folate intake during this stage.
The iron, fiber and manganese in leafy vegetables also provide stamina and energy in the pregnant body. Also, the potassium present in them is helpful as during pregnancy, the blood volume in body increases, which manifolds the requirement of potassium in body. So, never forget to include green leafy vegetables in your diet.
Eat nuts during pregnancy
During pregnancy, a woman’s body weaken largely. Therefore, there is dire need of nutrient-packed foods that will make her body strong. The peanuts, walnuts are excellent snack options that you may prefer. The various vitamins and minerals present in them such as magnesium, copper, manganese, selenium, copper, calcium, potassium etc are great and are all very much needed by your body during pregnancy.
Selenium strengthens the immune system and its antioxidant properties protect the cells from getting damaged.
Nuts also fulfill the requirement of magnesium of 800 milligrams during pregnancy. Magnesium helps in the embryonic development mainly in building of bones, prevent premature labor, and in the development of the central nervous system of your baby etc. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 that also contributes in the formation of baby’s brain. So go, munch on some nuts now.
Eat bananas during pregnancy
Whenever, you are suffering from pregnancy-triggered morning sickness, just take out a banana and eat it. This is because each banana contains around 0.4 mg of vitamin B6, which according to reports is important to combat the problem of morning sickness. Besides, vitamin B6 also helps in the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates that is important during your baby’s process of growing.
On the other, diarrhea, which is also very common during pregnancy, can also be cured with banana all thanks to the presence of fiber that absorbs excess water causing diarrhea. The other ingredient potassium present in banana also helps to combat and ease the intestinal cramps that are quite frequent during pregnancy.
Eat dairy products during pregnancy
According to research, calcium is very important during pregnancy and has many maternal and fetal needs and so you must include the diary products in your diet. In fact, not just calcium, even the vitamin content in dairy products is very efficient for proper bone health in both the mother and the baby. The diary products contain two types of protein casein and whey, each of high quality. Besides, calcium and vitamin, dairy products are rich in magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, all of which are great during your pregnancy period.
Green yogurt is a great milk product that is highly recommended during pregnancy as it contains more amount of calcium than the other dairy products. Some of them contain probiotic bacteria that are very beneficial for proper digestive health and can solve common problems of diarrhea, constipation etc.
In fact, reports also suggest that those who are lactose intolerant may also able to tolerate yogurt, mainly the probiotic one. Other complications like various allergies, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or vaginal infections can also be reduced or avoided with probiotic supplements.
Eat eggs during pregnancy
The nutrient-packed eggs fall in the list of the best foods for pregnancy. Eggs contain almost all the required nutrients and are hence a quick and easy option to remain healthy during pregnancy. They contain various proteins, vitamins, minerals and provides you with the needed calories.
Eggs also contain omega -3 fats that further aid in the fetus development. The other ingredient amino acids also prevent the risk of preeclampsia and spina bifida.
However, reports also warn us that everyone especially pregnant women must never eat uncooked or soft cooked eggs, as that might be the cause behind the occurrence of salmonella positioning. So cook the eggs properly and reap the maximum benefits from them during your pregnancy.
Eat berries during pregnancy
If you are pregnant and you have got weak immune system, then you must start eating berries. This is because berries contain Vitamin C that according to reports have immune enhancing properties. It can also come to your aid in case you have high blood pressure.
Berries are also loaded with various vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and plant compounds that are essential for both the mother and the baby. They also have low glycemic index value that does not cause major hikes in blood sugar levels. However, please eat the clean organic ones and avoid pesticides.
Eat fish liver oils during pregnancy
Fish liver oil, made from the liver of the fish is also a great option during pregnancy. The DHA and EPA present are the forms of omega-3 fatty acids that help in the eye and brain development of the fetus.
Fish liver oil is also good for enhancing proper sleep patterns and so mothers must eat it during pregnancy. It also contains vitamin D that can prevent the occurrence of preeclampsia as well.
Research has also shown that with proper consumption of fish liver oil, you will be able to deliver babies with greater birth weight, which will protect him/her from various diseases in the long run. However, make sure you are not consuming more that 1-tablespoon daily as the retinol in it may harm the fetus.
Drink lots of water during pregnancy
Although water is not a proper food item, but it’s benefits during pregnancy enables us to count it as one of the best foods for pregnancy.
According to “Mayo Clinic”, drinking around 10 cups of water is needed for pregnant mothers while those breastfeeding must eat 13 cups. One of the reasons behind that is because your body undergoes many bodily changes during pregnancy and water helps in maintaining healthy functioning of the organs. It also plays an important role in transporting the essential nutrients to the baby and wash off the excess accumulated waste.
Staying hydrated can also relieve you off the feeling of fatigue that is common during pregnancy and also lead to better cognitive functioning. Water even helps to reduce the swelling by getting rid of the excess sodium from body. You can also reduce the constipation and urinary tract infections with increased water intake.
Now that you have learnt about the list of best foods to eat while pregnant, let me give you a list of items that you may avoid during your pregnancy days.
List of foods to avoid while pregnant
While eating some healthy and nutritious foods is essential to better your pregnancy days, there are few foods, which you can happily avoid, to remain fit in those nine months. For example, dairy products are great during pregnancy but eating unpasteurized ones may harm you.
So here’s the list of foods to avoid while pregnant
- Unpasteurized diary
- Unpasteurized juice
- Undercooked meat and raw meat
- Uncooked eggs
- Coffee (You may drink it moderately or in less quantity, but better if you avoid )
- High mercury fish
- Raw seafood
As we know, good things never come easily and so in order to get your baby as a God’s gift, a mother has to bear difficulties during those nine months. However, with a little caution and a proper diet chart, you can make your journey of those nine months easier.
In this post, I have mentioned the list of 16 best foods for pregnancy and have jotted down everything in details. The best foods for pregnancy include a wide variety from green veggies to eggs, lean meat, dried fruits, to pro-biotic dairy products etc. And in my list, I have made a special mention of water as it is important to keep yourself properly hydrated, detoxified and active during pregnancy.
For your convenience, I have also discussed about few foods, which you may avoid, for example the unpasteurized foods, high mercury fishes, uncooked or under-cooked foods etc. What I meant is that, you can eat fish, eggs or meat but in a way, that it does not harm you.
You should essentially consult a doctor and follow the diet chart as prescribed by him/her, depending on the needs of your body.
Discipline is also important. While I have already mentioned to lessen alcohol intake, it is equally important that you quit smoking in case you smoke and also ask people around you to do the same.
Are you are an expecting mother? Have you tried out any of these foods for pregnancy? Share me the feedback and in case you are already a mother, then do share with me your experience of bearing your child for nine months. Feel free to voice your opinions and give suggestions on what foods you ate and benefitted from during your pregnancy days.
Until then, stay safe and embrace motherhood with a smile.
Eliana the chief editor at bodyandbeans is a professional yoga instructor and a fitness freak. She has done her master’s in history from Kolkata University. She is passionate about healthy eating and living practices.