What you eat during pregnancy will affect your baby’s growth and development, so make sure you eat nosh smartly!


Did you know that even before you get pregnant, you’ll need to start prepping your body with the right foods? This is because the health of your growing baby is totally dependent on your lifestyle and what you eat.

According to gynaecologist Dr Christopher Chong, “Poor nutrition and a lack of key nutrients can cause changes to the development of cells in your baby.” This can lead to medical problems and chronic conditions later in life.

Eating well is also important for the expectant mum, so that she may “withstand the greater strain of pregnancy on her health and body, and to prepare her for the delivery and for breastfeeding”, Dr Chong adds.

So, give your baby the best start by making sure that you’re getting all the right nutrients.

Folic Acid
Folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9, is needed to make the extra blood that you will need during pregnancy. Doctors recommend that you take a folate supplement at least a month before you conceive, till the end of your first trimester. It helps prevent neural tube defects and abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida and anencephaly (a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull). Include green leafy vegetables (like spinach and kale), citrus fruits, nuts and beans in your diet.

Doctors recommend that you take a folate supplement at least a month before you conceive, till the end of your first trimester.

Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth in both you and your baby. It’s also vital for heart and circulatory health, builds your baby’s muscular and nervous system, and helps the blood to clot normally. Besides milk and other dairy products, you can also get calcium from lean beef and pork, broccoli, kale and salmon.

Feeling tired during pregnancy? Figures because you’re growing another human being! Take iron-rich foods to prevent fatigue, weakness and depression. Iron builds your resistance to stress and disease, but more importantly, it helps you make haemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the heart to other parts of the body. Since your blood volume expands during pregnancy, your iron needs will double. Good iron sources include lean red meat, fish, beans and leafy vegetables.


Vitamin D

Maintain your body’s calcium levels with foods rich in vitamin D. Inadequate vitamin D during pregnancy can lead to abnormal bone growth, factures and rickets in newborns. Vitamin D is also important for your baby’s skin and eyesight. Take more milk, salmon and if you get the chance, go outdoors. Exposure to sunlight converts chemicals in the skin to vitamin D.

Vitamin A
Your growing baby needs vitamin A for the development of his heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes and bones. It’s also important for his circulatory, respiratory and central nervous systems. As you near your delivery date, up your vitamin A intake since it helps with postpartum tissue repair. Foods rich in vitamin A include fruits and vegetables (especially one that are red or orange in colour), milk, and liver.

As you near your delivery date, up you vitamin A intake since it helps with postpartum tissue repair.

Want to grow a brainy baby? Take foods rich in DHA, or omega-3 fats. As your foetus cannot produce DHA on his own, he’ll get it through your placenta during pregnancy. DHA not only boosts your baby’s brain and eye development, studies show that a diet supplemented with DHA helps expectant mums carry their babies to full term.

Protein is crucial for growing your baby’s foetal tissue. It also helps to increase your blood supply, allowing more blood to be sent to the baby. Eat foods like lean meats, eggs, beans and legumes.

Pre- and Probiotics
These are important for maintaining a healthy digestive system during pregnancy. Prebiotics, which occur naturally in foods like bananas, garlic and soya beans, help friendly bacteria to flourish in your gut. Take yoghurt, since the probiotics it contains helps maintain a balance of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.

Photos: iStock

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