Nutritional Support During Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings a significantly increased need for extra vitamins and minerals for mom. You don't want to end up deficient in any of important nutrients, as this can result in complications for you or the baby and even certain birth defects. While you don't necessarily need to "eat for two" as some suggest, you do need to make sure that what you do eat is full of high quality nutrients which will satiate your hunger giving your baby a healthy start in his life.
Avoid Highly Processed Foods
The primary goal is to focus on natural, whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and a minimum of lean beef and chicken. Stay away from processed foods, as well as foods which are full of additives and extra things your body just does not need. Become an avid label reader at the grocery store, and try to stay in the outermost isles of the store as much as possible. Avoid trans-fats and other hydrogenated oils such as margarine and shortening. Some studies have shown that the higher intake the mother has of trans-fats, the greater the risk of developing a premature baby, and trans fats are also known to interfere with the brain development of a fetus. Cured and smoked meats contain nitrates and nitrites which can also be harmful to a developing baby.
Increase the Amount of Omega 3s You Eat
Cold water fish such as salmon, herring, halibut and mackerel are very important to your baby's brain (as well as your own). Try for 2-3 servings per week at a minimum, or take a fish oil supplement which contains EPA and DHA. DHA, also known as docosahexaenoic acid, I essential for both retinal and brain development, and is especially important for pregnant and nursing women. As you know, your baby's brain development continues for a year following birth, therefore they rely on their moms to supply DHA which is the most abundant Omega-3 long chain fatty acid in breast milk. Many studies have shown that breast-fed babies definitely have an IQ advantage over formula-fed babies, however women in the United States have the lowest levels of DHA in their breast milk in the world.
Take a High Potency Prenatal Vitamin
Folic acid taken early in pregnancy can reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects by as much as 80%, and it is now being advised that couples who are just beginning to try to get pregnant should also make sure their intake of folic acid is up to par. A great pre-natal vitamin will also contain good levels of antioxidants, magnesium, the critical B vitamins and magnesium. If you want to avoid pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, then take your prenatal vitamins faithfully. Some of the best prenatal vitamins are found in health food stores, and can also include super green food concentrates from some highly nutritional sources as alfalfa juices, spirulina and wheat grass-all known to promote a healthy pregnancy. Don't forget your iron. Your doctor will routinely monitor your levels of iron, and if yours dips, be sure and add it through supplementation.
Other Beneficial Supplements
Ginger has long-been known to lessen the nausea and vomiting associated with early pregnancy, and dandelion root extract assists your liver in eliminating the increased hormones brought on by pregnancy. Red raspberry leaf is thought to strengthen the blood vessels in the uterus and placenta, thereby avoiding premature contractions. Zinc is necessary for proper fetal development, and as a nice bonus, can help prevent stretch marks. Because your body is unable to store zinc, you must take it daily. Recent studies have found that hemp oil is one of the most easily digestible and most balanced oils for human beings, and provides all the EFA requirements our body and our baby's body needs. Wild yam can be helpful in maintaining a good hormonal balance in the body, however you should not take wild yam in the early stages of pregnancy, only the latter stages.