What a woman eats and drinks during pregnancy is her baby’s main source of nourishment. So, experts recommend that a mother-to-be’s diet should include a variety of healthy foods and beverages to provide the important nutrients a baby needs for growth and development. A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein than a woman who is not expecting, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ACOG. Here is why these four nutrients are important. It may be hard to get the recommended amount of folic acid from diet alone. For that reason the March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to preventing birth defects, recommends that women who are trying to have a baby take a daily vitamin supplement containing micrograms of folic acid per day for at least one month before becoming pregnant. During pregnancy, they advise women to increase the amount of folic acid to micrograms a day, an amount commonly found in a daily prenatal vitamin. Food sources: leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, breads and pastas, beans, citrus fruits. This mineral is used to build a baby’s bones and teeth. If a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, the mineral will be drawn from the mother’s stores in her bones and given to the baby to meet the extra demands of pregnancy, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D, another nutrient that works with calcium to develop a baby’s bones and teeth.
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Back to Your pregnancy and baby guide. Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow. You do not need to go on a special diet, but it’s important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need. There are also certain foods that should be avoided in pregnancy. You will probably find that you are more hungry than usual, but you do not need to “eat for 2” — even if you are expecting twins or triplets. It shows you how much of what you eat should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. You do not need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a week. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and can help prevent constipation. Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day — these can include fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Find out what counts as a portion of fruit or vegetables. Starchy foods are an important source of energy, some vitamins and fibre, and help you to feel full without containing too many calories.