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Experts recommend that you focus on six specific foods during your pregnancy

It is a good idea to include folate, iron and omega-3s when it comes to pregnancy. These nutrients are needed until birth and can help your baby develop.

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The creation of new life is a miraculous and complex process. You should fuel your body with healthy foods before sending it on one of the most demanding tasks it has ever faced. The best foods to eat while pregnant will aid in the development of both the mother and the child.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends eating an extra 340 calories a day beginning in the second trimester and a little more than that in the third trimester (ACOG). An apple with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and a glass of milk has about that many calories.

Of course, the source of those calories is more crucial than the total itself. Here, doctors and dietitians discuss what you should eat to stay healthy during pregnancy.

1. Fish

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) previously advised pregnant women to limit their intake of fish and other seafood due to the presence of mercury in some of these foods. Nonetheless, there is a wide variety of fish that can be eaten without worry during pregnancy.

Oily fish in particular are loaded with nutrients that are important for your baby’s brain and eye development, which may be hard to swallow if you’re experiencing morning sickness.

According to Lauren Manaker, RDN, LD, author of The Seven-Ingredient Healthy Pregnancy Cookbook and prenatal dietitian, certified lactation educator, and fish expert, pregnant women should consume 8 to 12 ounces of low-mercury seafood weekly. This includes fish like salmon, skipjack tuna, and trout.

Manaker recommends expecting vegan parents discuss the possibility of taking algae-based DHA supplements with their obstetrician.

Vitamin D, which most of us don’t get enough of, can be found in certain types of fish. According to the ACOG, vitamin D is used during pregnancy to aid in the development of a baby’s bones and teeth, as well as to ensure the mother and child both have healthy eyes and skin.

Vitamin D and healthy omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained by eating fish like trout, salmon, sardines, and tuna.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises against consuming bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, or tilefish while pregnant.

You should also consume no more than 6 ounces of white albacore tuna per week. Before eating fish caught in local waters, it’s important to research any relevant advisories.

2. Eggs

Eggs are a controversial food item that never seems to end the discussion. But there’s no denying that eggs are a nutritional superstar when it comes to pregnancy, and it’s all thanks to their high choline content.

Manaker argues that choline should be more widely discussed in the prenatal community because it is an important nutrient. It’s been linked to a baby’s brain health years after birth and aids in spinal cord development during pregnancy.

Not only that, but Rachelle Mallik, RD, founder of The Food Therapist and expert in reproductive health nutrition, warns that your prenatal supplement may be deficient in choline.

According to the ACOG, a pregnant woman requires 450 milligrams of choline daily. There is 169 mcg of choline in a single egg. Additional sources of choline include:

Chicken

Slim beef

Milk

Products made from soy

Peanuts

3. Milk

Dairy milk is an excellent source of essential nutrients, such as:

Calcium, for healthy teeth and bones.

Forming new RBCs: Vitamin B12

Vitamin A, essential for good vision, skin, and bone health

(Fortified) vitamin D — beneficial for bone health and the immune system

Iodine is another component of milk, and while you might be getting enough of it from iodized salt otherwise, you’ll need more of it if you’re pregnant.

According to what we’ve learned, iodine is essential for the development of the thyroid gland and the growth of a fetus, as Mallik puts it. “During pregnancy, your body’s demand for this vitamin increases by around 50 percent.” To be more specific, the ACOG recommends getting 220 micrograms of iodine daily.

Studies published in Nutrients in May 2020 show that the iodine content of milk varies widely. If you drink one cup of milk per day, the USDA estimates that you’ll get about 94 micrograms of iodine.

Fourthly, Pulses and Veggies

There is a wide variety of beans and legumes available to you, from black beans to chickpeas to pintos to lentils to peas. Due to the abundance of nutrients they provide, these plants are an ideal pregnancy diet.

The high fiber content of beans and other legumes is especially beneficial during pregnancy. Due to the many hormonal shifts occurring in your body during pregnancy, constipation is a common complaint.

Beans are a great source of fiber, so eating just one or two servings per day can help you maintain regular bowel movements. In order to prevent further stomach distress, gradually increase your fiber intake and drink plenty of water.

Additionally, the iron in beans and other legumes is especially helpful for expecting mothers. According to registered dietitian Bianca Tamburello, “pregnant people have a higher risk for iron deficiency because your daily needs are much higher.” To accommodate the body’s growing need for more blood, she suggests eating iron-rich foods during pregnancy.

It’s normal for your blood volume to rise slightly in the first trimester of pregnancy, but it will increase significantly in the second and third trimesters.

A review published in December 2019 in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth found that maternal blood volume can increase by as much as 48% between the first trimester and the end of the third.

Iron is a nutrient that can be obtained from eating lean meat, poultry, and fish. Plant foods like beans and legumes contain iron as well, though your body may not be able to absorb as much of it.

Even though the body absorbs iron from animal foods better, Tamburello says there are ways to increase iron absorption from plant-based diets. To maximize iron absorption, consume iron-rich vegetarian foods with vitamin C-rich foods like orange juice, tomato juice, or strawberries.

(5) White and sweet potatoes

One of the healthiest foods to eat while expecting a child is a sweet potato. You can get more than 100 percent of the vitamin A you need in beta-carotene form during pregnancy from just one medium sweet potato.

There are two kinds of vitamin A:

Milk, cheese, yogurt, liver, and fish oil are examples of animal products that naturally contain vitamin A in its preformed form.

Sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, carrots, mango, and apricots are all examples of foods rich in provitamin A, also known as carotenoids.

According to a review published in March 2019 in Nutrients, vitamin A is crucial for the proper development of your baby’s eyes, organs, bones, and immune system, as well as for your own eye health.

Vitamin A deficiency is a global health issue, but fortunately it is uncommon in the United States. Vitamin A toxicity is a real risk during pregnancy and should be avoided at all costs if supplementation is used. Beta-carotene-rich foods are an easier and less risky way to meet your dietary requirements.

Although white potatoes have a bad reputation in the diet community, they actually contain many essential nutrients. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends eating more white potatoes during pregnancy due to their high levels of vitamins C and B6.

And remember to leave the skins on when cooking white and sweet potatoes to increase your fiber intake.

Folate-Rich Foods

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) emphasizes the importance of consuming adequate amounts of folate, a B-vitamin used in the formation of red blood cells, prior to and throughout pregnancy.

Preventing neural tube defects like spina bifida requires adequate consumption of folic acid, the bioactive form of folate. Both the fetus and the placenta benefit from this vitamin’s presence during pregnancy (which is why you need more during early pregnancy).

Neural tube defects can be avoided by taking folic acid, which is recommended by both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Folic acid is likely to be present in your prenatal supplement, but you should double-check the label just to be sure.

Although folate is included in some prenatal supplements, the CDC recommends folic acid instead because “folate has not been shown to offer the same risk reduction according to the medical literature.”

The ACOG recommends starting a daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid at least one month before pregnancy, and recommends getting the full 600 micrograms of folic acid you need during pregnancy.

In order to make sure you get enough of this crucial nutrient, eating foods rich in folate before and during pregnancy is a good idea. Include choices like:

Spinach

Lettuce Romaine

Avocado

Beans, kidney

A glass of orange juice

Broccoli

Do Prenatal Vitamins Really Help?

If you are trying to conceive or have recently discovered that you are pregnant, your doctor will likely advise you to begin taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin to ensure that you are getting enough of the necessary vitamins and minerals.

However, you shouldn’t put too much stock in the claims made by the manufacturers of expensive supplements or those endorsed by celebrities. Stick with tried-and-true manufacturers, and if in doubt, consult your physician.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests looking for the following nutrients in your supplement when you shop:

Anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids

Choline

Calcium

Iodine

Iron

Vitamins B12 and C Vitamin

Folate and Vitamin B6

If your doctor doesn’t prescribe prenatal vitamins, these are some options that have received positive feedback from registered dietitians: