The essential nutrition for you and your unborn baby.

What you must eat if you are pregnant

While you may not look pregnant, major things are happening inside your body during the initial stages of pregnancy.

By the end of the first trimester, your baby would have developed all of its organs. And during the second trimester, as muscle development occurs, eyebrows, eyelashes, nails are also growing. This is also when you will start feeling your little one move around inside of you.

Even before pregnancy, a healthy diet and lifestyle is essential. But once you’ve conceived, it becomes critical as whatever you do or put into your body will impact your little one’s health.

The healthy diet

“You should ideally start taking folic acid three months before conception and all the way up until the end of your first trimester,” advises Dr Kelly Loi, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Health & Fertility Centre for Women.

Folic acid — available in pill form and accessible at any health store, pharmacy or directly from your doctor — helps to prevent neural tube defects (malformations of the brain and spinal cord) in foetuses, and anaemia (a deficiency of red blood cells in the blood, which can result in fatigue and heart palpitations) in pregnant women.

It is also important to eat sufficiently and have a well-balanced diet, notes Dr Loi. “To ensure that baby gets optimal nourishment, focus on the quality of your diet,” she adds.

Cut back on fat, salt and sugar, and incorporate necessary nutrients including iron (to make extra blood and help transport oxygen from your lungs to bubba), calcium (for a healthy heart, and to build strong bones and teeth) and DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid critical for optimal brain development).

Red meats, beans and dark leafy veggies are top sources, as are milk, yoghurt, fruits, eggs and oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel. “Also increase the intake of whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products,” adds Dr Loi.

If you’re worried that your baby may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals, include prenatal and maternal milk supplements to your daily diet. These are made from a variety of essential nutrients, including the key ones mentioned above, to ensure you — and your little one — stay in good health during and after pregnancy.

Photo: iStock

Like us on Facebook and check SmartParents regularly for the latest reads!

Check out these stories, too…

Breaking bad eating habits during pregnancy

11 tips to saving up during pregnancy

6 secrets to a quick delivery