There has been much research done over the past two decades on the correlation between a pregnant woman's diet and the health of her baby. By now, I think we all realize that your pregnancy diet is a vital component of how well your baby will fare throughout his or her childhood and adulthood. New research has shown that an adult's risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes can be correlated with poor eating habits of his or her parents, as well as genetic factors.
Why Nutrition is Vital During Pregnancy
Good nutrition for your child begins before it is conceived. When your diet has been good before you conceive, you will be prepared to "hit the ground running" so to speak when you do conceive. One of the reasons to prepare yourself before conception is that you normally don't even know you're pregnant until you are about 4 weeks pregnant. A lot has been going on in the developing embryo during those 4 weeks. The spinal cord starts to develop along with the eyes and ears and the heart starts pumping at about 25 days. All of these functions need the proper nutrients to develop.
As your baby develops throughout its gestation, all of its developing functions are dependent on the nutrients it receives from you. A nutritious diet also helps prevent miscarriage and high blood pressure, and helps to support your body so that toxemia, fluid retention, constipation, hemorrhoids, gas, heartburn, and anemia don't become problems for you. Proper nutrition is important for both mother and baby.
A Healthy Pregnancy Diet
Protein intake should be about 60-80 grams a day, from good sources. Certain fish, turkey, protein drinks, whole grains, seeds, and sprouts should be your primary sources of healthy protein. The quality counts more than the quantity. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are important both for the nutrients that the baby is getting and to combat constipation.
You need extra folic acid in your diet and it is always contained in a good prenatal vitamin supplement. The proper amount of folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus. Essential fatty acids (EFA's) help develop a healthy brain and skin. Carotene-rich foods like carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, and squash help develop a strong immune system. Zinc, found in pumpkin and sesame seeds, contributes to good body formation. Vitamin C-rich foods like broccoli, bell peppers, and fruit are needed for connective tissue health. And citrus fruits and berries support capillary integrity. Minerals are necessary for good bones and connective tissue growth.
Yes... all this can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Just follow good basic health principals which are to eat plenty of high quality food, lots of fruit and vegetables, lots of fresh water and be sure to do daily activity like walking or whatever it is you like to do, and you will give your baby its best start. A good prenatal vitamin can fill in the gaps when you might not get everything you need occasionally. And, its very important to have good prenatal care from a doctor you trust.