Who me? Pregnant? The majority of women don’t realize they’re pregnant until six to eight weeks after the fact. If you’re within childbearing years it’s always a good idea to eat a nutritious diet and lead a healthy lifestyle – just in case.
Anytime you start a healthier diet during your pregnancy is beneficial but to start at the beginning is ideal. Because of this, most health suggestions fall during the first three months. Let’s start with the first trimester…
The first trimester is the most crucial time for development as most birth defects happen at the three to four week period. During this time nutritional and lifestyle choices can increase your babies chances for optimal health. Avoiding alcohol, excess caffeine and other toxins including most commercial household cleaning products is standard operating procedure. But what else should you do? This three-part series will help you lead a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also have an effect on your baby’s early and longterm health. Due to the rapid rate of growth of embryonic cells during this time, an exaggerated response to toxins and lack of vital nutrients may have a profound effect on your child. What you put into your body, whether it be whole foods or processed chemicals, your baby has access to through the placenta. Also, if your diet is deficient in nutrients than the baby must take it from your own bones, tissues and organs. What you eat must also replace the nourishment and minerals within your body that you supply to the baby.
It takes an average of 75,000 calories to develop a baby. This means that increasing your caloric intake slowly throughout your pregnancy is vital for optimal health. During the first trimester the extra caloric need is around 100 extra calories daily.
It’s also important to remain hydrated. To ensure you are getting enough fluid drink at least half of your body weight in ounces throughout the day. You will also get fluid through your diet if it consists of whole foods. Also, caffeinated beverages can increase dehydration as they act as diuretics. Caffeine has the ability to go through the placenta and reach the fetus, which is very sensitive to it and metabolizes it very slowly. Eliminating or reducing caffeinated coffee or tea consumption to one 8 oz cup a day is safer.
It’s helpful to check your vitamin D levels, as most women’s are low, especially here in the Midwest where sometimes it feels as if the sun has forgotten about us. Even if we were to become wintertime nudists the suns angle is to low for the production of vitamin D in most people. Vitamin D is important as it increases the ability to fight infection and is an integral part of bone growth. Although getting adequate amounts of all nutrients is important, here are six that are more specific to pregnancy.
Increase your calcium intake.
There is a sweet old saying that, “for every child born a morning star rises”. This is a nice thought, but there is much more scientific validity to another old saying, “for every child born a mother looses a tooth.” If your calcium intake is too low your baby will have no choice but to steal it from your bones, including your teeth.
There’s a 50 percent increase in the need for calcium during pregnancy, between 800 to 1000 milligrams per day over the recommended daily allowances (RDA) is suggested for the first trimester. To utilize and absorb calcium your body needs magnesium at a 5:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. So for 1200 mg of calcium, you’d need 240 milligrams of magnesium.
Dark leafy greens such as steamed spinach, collard greens, basil and kale contain high amounts of both of these minerals. Sardines or salmon canned with bones contain high amounts of calcium, as do: sesame seeds, cinnamon, almonds and goats milk. Avoid use of antacids like Tums as a calcium supplement or for morning sickness. Tums is an antacid, which contains calcium carbonate, aspartame, sorbitol and yellow dye #3. Because it’s meant to create an alkaline environment by lowering stomach acid, it actually decreases the absorption of calcium.
Combat morning sickness.
If you’re experiencing morning sickness, you want to make sure you keep food in your stomach by eating small meals throughout the day that include protein. Smaller meals also keep blood sugar under control and are easier to digest. It’s good practice to eat a bit of food before you get out of bed and let it sit for ten minutes before rising. Take care to move slowly out of bed, which helps your body balance itself. Throughout the day take care not make sudden movements after eating or drinking.
Drinking plenty of un-caffeinated fluids while trying not to mix fluids with food may also help. Ginger tea is a great option for nausea. Avoid processed, fried, fatty, and highly seasoned foods. Also, try chewing on ice cubes or eating cool foods often helps nausea. Healthy lifestyle choices such as getting plenty of fresh air, sunshine and rest can help as well.
Stay tuned for more on staying healthy during pregnancy…