[Guest post by freelancer Jane Sandalwood]
Your baby’s health depends largely on what you eat during pregnancy, which is why expecting women should pay particular attention to the foods they consume. Pregnant women need more vitamins and minerals, such as folate and calcium, and some foods should be avoided. Pregnant women also need to monitor their weight, as too much — or too little — weight gain can lead to complications. While treatments like acupuncture can help manage your weight and blood pressure, this is more effective when used in conjunction with a healthy, balanced diet.
The Importance Of Maintaining A Healthy Weight
You’re bound to gain weight during pregnancy, but how much you should gain depends on how much you weighed before getting pregnant. For example, a woman with a normal BMI should gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, while an overweight woman should only gain about 15-25 pounds. If a woman is expecting twins, she should expect to gain even more. Your doctor should be monitoring your weight gain during your regular prenatal checkups.
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, which can lead to difficult pregnancies and deliveries. However, doctors don’t usually recommend losing weight while pregnant. In this case, the baby can use your body’s fat stores for nutrition. To pull this off, you’ll need to make small, steady changes to your lifestyle. This could mean cutting back on calories with a laidback diet, such as the lazy keto diet, which is a more relaxed approach to the low carb ketogenic lifestyle.
Pregnant women often give in to unhealthy cravings, gaining more weight than they should. Your hormones play a large part in how you eat. Acupuncture can help promote weight loss by using needles to balance hormones in order to reduce stress and relieve the urge to overeat. Acupuncture can also help alleviate morning sickness and fatigue, making your pregnancy even more comfortable.
What Kinds Of Food Should Pregnant Women Eat?
When you’re expecting, you need to consume more folic acid, calcium, iron, and protein than someone who isn’t pregnant. Folic acid, or folate, helps maintain your baby’s neural health and prevents birth defects in the brain and spinal cord. You can get folic acid from green leafy vegetables, bread, citrus fruits and beans. However, getting enough folic acid from food alone is difficult, which is why many doctors recommend taking a prenatal vitamin.
Because your body is essentially forming your baby’s bones and teeth, you’ll need to consume more calcium. Drink lots of milk and eat calcium-rich leafy greens like kale. If you don’t have enough calcium in your diet, your baby’s body will extract calcium from your bones. This puts you at greater risk of developing osteoporosis as you get older.
Expecting women need 27 milligrams of iron every day, which is twice the amount needed by people who aren’t pregnant. Too little iron can cause you to develop anemia, which can lead to fatigue and infection. Iron-rich foods include meat and beans, which are also great sources of protein. Most pregnant women don’t have trouble consuming enough protein, but make sure you eat healthy sources of protein like lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts and tofu.
Take Note Of Foods You CAN’T Eat
Most foods are safe to eat during pregnancy. However, some foods and drinks can harm your baby, so make sure to double-check if you’re uncertain about certain foods. Alcohol, for example, is a no-no while pregnant. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to developmental disorders like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Stop consuming alcohol as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, and keep avoiding it during breastfeeding. You should also avoid caffeine, which may be related to miscarriage. Because caffeine is a natural diuretic, it can result in water and calcium loss. Limit your caffeine intake to less than 200 mg a day. Other foods that you should watch out for are raw foods like sushi and raw eggs, as you risk contracting listeria and other illnesses, which can cause premature delivery and infection. For a full list of foods you should avoid, consult your obstetrician.
Eating during pregnancy can be difficult, especially in the first trimester. If you get indigestion or have trouble eating, eat more small meals throughout the day. Ask for advice from a nutritionist, and follow these recommendations to stay on track and make sure that your baby is getting what he or she needs. If you have any questions and concerns, don’t hesitate to check in with your doctor.