Nutrition for two: 3 foods to eat as you prepare for pregnancy
Planning for a pregnancy is exciting but nerve-wracking, and it can seem like there is conflicting advice about what you should and should not do as you prepare for parenthood. Are you financially ready for a child? Does your home have the space to accommodate a baby? Have you talked with your partner or co-parent about your parenting philosophy? Is your body ready for pregnancy and all of the changes?
However, there is one thing you do have total control over, and it is what you eat. This is the perfect time to examine your diet and consider your current or future weight goals. If you are overweight, research has shown that losing weight and eating right can help increase your fertility, which means it is time get rid of unhealthy snacking. You want to add the following foods to your diet as you prepare for pregnancy.
1. Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens are an important part of many healthy diets. Kale, spinach, chard and collards contain folic acid, which is a critical nutrient to help prevent major birth defects like spina bifida. You want to incorporate these foods when you start trying to conceive to protect against these problems because they can develop early in the pregnancy and often before you even realize you are pregnant.
It can be hard to get enough folic acid in your system just through your diet. Doctors recommend a supplement or multivitamin to make sure you get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily when you start trying to conceive and during the first three months of pregnancy.
Yogurt is a great pre-pregnancy snack because it has a high amount of probiotics. Probiotics, the good bacteria that help fortify your immune system, are important during pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your body naturally suppresses your immune system to protect your growing baby.
If you are concerned about the high fat content of dairy, then you can try low-fat or nonfat yogurt. If you do not enjoy eating yogurt, you can buy the plain version and use it as a base for dips or other recipes. In either case, you want to choose yogurt that has live active cultures, so you get probiotics.
3. Lean meats
Many women suffer from iron deficiencies that can be dangerous during pregnancy. In the first two trimesters, iron-deficiency anemia in the mother causes two times the risk for preterm delivery and three times the risk for a baby with abnormally low birth weight. Iron deficiency can also result in significant blood loss during delivery. Mothers who lose too much blood may need a blood transfusion.
Protein is an important component of any healthy diet, and lean red meats are a great source of iron that will not compromise your weight goals. Grass-fed beef is a popular choice, but bison is even leaner. You can pair it with tomatoes, which have a high amount of vitamin C, because the combination will help increase iron absorption.
What should you eat as you prepare for pregnancy? You want foods that will nourish you and help you feel your best, so your body can provide what your baby needs. In addition to the three foods mentioned here, you want to consult your doctor for diet suggestions.
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