Growing another human is hard work. While you don’t have control over what’s going on in your belly, controlling what you put in it will help your child in the long run. When feeding yourself and your little spud, the basic principles of healthy eating remain valid – eat plenty of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. While there isn’t much consensus in the medical community about the “right” amounts of food a pregnant woman should eat, we do know that certain nutrients and vitamins are helpful for the normal development of your baby in utero. Here are 4 nutrients you should be paying special attention to:
You probably already know this, but folic acid (also known as Vitamin B9) is a super essential nutrient, so doctors probably already recommended you to consume more of it before you got pregnant. It’s still important during gestation, as it prevents birth defects. Found naturally in foods like spinach, beans, asparagus, peanuts, oranges and fortified cereal, most doctors recommend a daily supplement as well.
You’ll also need more iron in your diet during pregnancy, to avoid anemia and its associated risks to your baby. Iron from animal products like meat is most easily absorbed by the body. If you’re not a meat eater, pair your iron from plant sources (like beans) with vitamin C-rich foods (or drinks) as the vitamin enhances the iron absorption.
Calcium and Vitamin D
They work together to build and strengthen spud’s developing bones and teeth. Calcium-rich foods include dairy, fish and leafy greens like spinach, broccoli and kale. Some cereals and juices are also fortified with calcium. The best source of vitamin D is fatty fish like salmon, but vitamin D-fortified milk and juices exist also.
While a healthy diet is capable of providing many of the nutrients you need, it can be beneficial to take dietary supplements to boost the amount of essential nutrients in your body, and to make up for any nutritional gaps you may have. Supplements should not be used as a substitute or replacement for a healthy balanced diet. Your doctor might recommend you take supplements before, during and after pregnancy, especially if you breastfeed. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.
In Hong Kong, nutritional supplements can be purchased from your obstetrician directly or dedicated pharmacies and supplement retailers such as Watsons, Mannings and GNC. Supplements, when covered by insurance, will generally need to be prescribed by your doctor.
For more information on specific dosages and more, visit these sites: