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For many women, and even their partners, pregnancy may be a time to develop healthier eating habits, for the benefits of the mother and the child. Including more nutrient-dense foods and cutting out caffeine and junk food is usually a good way to start. Here is a list of helpful suggestions on what to include and what to avoid in terms of diet in order to optimize the health of the mother and child throughout and following the pregnancy:
Nutrient-dense foods are needed for the growth and development, which includes essentials, such as protein, calcium, omega-3s, iron, B vitamins (folate), vitamin C, fiber, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Protein as building blocks for the mother’s growing body and the baby’s development (recommended 70 g/day):
    • Good choices: grass-fed lean meats; plant-based protein, such as quinoa and nut butters; eggs; beans, nuts, and legumes
  • Iron to accommodate for increased blood volume, higher production of hemoglobin, proper blood supply for the placenta, and cognitive development for the baby (recommended 27 g/day)
    • Good choices: spinach; beans; legumes; dark green leafy vegetables; grass-fed lean meats
  • Calcium for proper bone development (recommended 1000 mg/day):
    • Good choices: yoghurt with live cultures; nuts & seeds (sesame seeds); other dairy products in moderation (look for grass-fed options)

  • Omega-3s  & omega-6s fats (DHA & EPA) for development of brain, nervous system, eyes, placenta, and overall tissue growth (recommended 30-40 g/day:
    • Good choices: avocados; nuts & seeds; olives; cold-pressed oils (e.g. olive, grapeseed, flaxseed, sunflower, and coconut oils)
    • Because mercury crosses the placenta, it is important to eat fish low in mercury exposure: herring, rainbow trout, wild-caught salmon, sardines, and whitefish. Fish should not be eaten raw!
  • Vitamin B‘s, specifically folic acid, to prevent neural tube defects of the spinal cord & brain (recommended 400 mcg/day):
  • Vitamin C for proper development of teeth, bones, and connective tissues, and it aids absorption of iron (recommended 85 mg/day & breastfeeding women 120 mg/day)
    • Good choices: dark green leafy vegetables; guava; peppers; kiwi; citrus fruits; strawberries; Brussels sprouts; cantelopes
  • Water for increased demand on the body, enough hydration, increased blood volume and healthy blood cells, breast milk production, and keeping the body at the optimum temperature (especially important during the hot summer months)
    • Dehydration can lead to headaches, nausea, cramps, dizziness, edema, and preterm labor in the third trimester; can relieve symptoms of morning sickness, indigestion, and heartburn; prevent urinary tract infections, hemorrhoids, and constipation.
    • Quick test: check your urine for color, which should be pale. If it’s dark, drink more water.
    • How much is enough? Ideally, drinking half the body weight in ounces should be sufficient, which will change as the weight of the baby increases.

Weight gain can be a slippery slope during pregnancy. It is only necessary to eat an additional 300 calories a day, mostly in second and third trimester. Excess weight gain can be associated with serious medical conditions:  gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, longer labor times, and increased chance for medical interventions, such as induced labor and Cesarean section.

Daily prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements are a way to add a few missing ingredients, as most people do not get all the nutrients from food we eat. Researching a supplement that contains 100 to 200 percent of the recommended dietary intakes for vitamins and minerals would be ideal.

Remember to enjoy life and the foods you eat. There is no need to deprive or limit yourself, but it is important not to overindulge in foods that are not high in nutrition. This can be especially tricky if you are experiencing food cravings as the hormones are somewhat unstable. It is also important to maintain a modified exercise schedule throughout the pregnancy, (e.g. walking, swimming, yoga, etc.), as well as a regular chiropractic adjustments to remove subluxations, maintain proper spinal and pelvic alignment during a time of significant postural changes, and allow for overall good health!

All of the food choices and habits should involve safe, low bacteria foods for the optimum health benefit of the mother and the baby. Therefore, keep in mind the following practices:

  • Read labels on every processed product.
    • Avoid additives, sugar, artificial anything. Rule of Thumb: If you cannot recognize the food or pronounce it, don’t eat it!
  • Avoid undercooked meatsby eating meat well done.
    • Consider the same principle for deli meats due to the possible presence of listeria bacteria. If you have to have it, consider a heated sandwich to kill unwanted microorganisms.
  • Avoid raw and smoked fish due to high risk of food-poisoning-causing bacteria and mercury exposure.
  • Avoid raw eggs due to salmonella exposure in dressings and homemade mayonnaise.

  • Avoid unpasteurized foodsand drinks by making sure that the process of pasteurization is heated to a temperature that will kill present microorganisms.
    • This includes soft cheeses that may contain the bacterial listeria: bleu cheese, camembert, feta, brie, and Mexican-style cheese like the three quesos (blanco, fresco, and decrema)
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, as many of them are overly chemically processed and are not safe for pregnant women, or anyone else, for that matter. Choose a natural source of sweeteners, if necessary, like raw honey or even sugar in the raw.
    • Back to the previous Rule of Thumb: avoid anything artificial due to the extensive chemicals involved.
  • Try herbal teaswith no caffeine or decaffeinated as a soothing beverage, but exercise caution.
    • Opt for smaller amounts of teas made from ginger, lime blossom, peppermint, roasted barley, rose hips, and thyme.
    • Avoid  anise, catnip, chamomile, comfrey, ephedra/ma huang, European mistletoe, hibiscus, horehound, Labrador, lemongrass, licorice root, mugwort, pennyroyal, raspberry leaf, rosemary, sage, sassafras, stinging nettle leaf, vetiver, and yarrow.

Even though, these lists may seem daunting and extensive, it is a short period of time to be mindful of what is the best for the child and the mother. Baby’s nutrition begins in utero, allowing the best possible start into the world with the best ingredients and a hefty dose of love!

Have questions? Contact me here, at drtijana.dc@gmail.comFacebook, or Twitter!

Be healthy & happy, Dr. Tijana

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