3 Important Nutrients for Your Pregnancy Meal Plan
During pregnancy, your baby depends on you for nutrients. Dr. Weslei Rice, primary care physician and obstetrician at St. Joseph Health, says, “The food you eat will play an integral role in your baby’s growth and development while in the womb.” To ensure your baby is getting everything he or she needs, remember to include the following three nutrients in your pregnancy meal plan:
- Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
Folic Acid to Help Your Baby Grow
Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin necessary for the growth and development of your baby. Most prenatal vitamins contain the recommended 600–800 micrograms of folate. However, you can also get the folic acid you need through food sources.
Good sources for folic acid include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Orange juice
Sometimes, other foods, like breakfast cereals and pasta, are fortified or enriched with folic acid.
Iron to Reduce the Risk of a Premature Delivery
Your body needs iron to keep oxygen flowing from your lungs to the rest of the body. During a pregnancy, your body has a second body to oxygenate and requires twice as much iron as before. Meeting the daily recommendations for 27 milligrams of iron during your pregnancy lowers the chances of having a premature baby.
Food sources high in iron include:
- Lean red meats
For plant-based sources, add more legumes, dried fruits, and leafy greens to your diet.
Calcium to Keep Your Bones Strong While Your Baby Develops
Calcium is necessary for the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, and nerves. If you don’t get enough calcium during pregnancy, your body will take what’s necessary for the baby from your own bones. If this happens, conditions like osteoporosis can affect you later in life. Make sure you’re getting the recommended 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day.
Some common calcium-rich foods include:
Non-dairy options include broccoli, kale, and calcium-fortified orange juice.
Prenatal vitamins are a vital part of your pregnancy, but a healthy diet has just as great an impact. Make sure you’re getting all of the vitamins and nutrients necessary to keep your baby healthy. As you eat for two, start planning for your delivery. Call (979) 776-2575 to request a private tour of the Labor and Delivery Department at St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital.