Nutrition & Lifestyle During Pregnancy
Adopting healthy habits in terms of what you eat and how much you eat of it can have long reaching effects on your pregnancy and general health. This applies to both men and women, for whom healthy nutrition is vital to fertility.
What should I eat if I’m trying to get pregnant?
When it comes to nutrition the rules for healthy living apply to getting pregnant and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Your body is designed to make use of nutrients and substances from a range of foods, and ensuring that your diet has a healthy mix of vegetables, meats, and other foods is the best way to make sure that you are getting what you need. A balance of healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, minerals, and water is ideal, and the effects of a good intake of these extend to your life in general beyond the pregnancy.
Is there anything in particular I should be eating to get pregnant?
A substance that is widely touted as being essential for women trying to conceive is folic acid, which you might have heard referred to as foliate. Folic acid is a vitamin, one of the vitamin Bs to be more precise, that is very important to the development of a newly conceived foetus. Folic acid is used during a pregnancy to develop what is called the neural tube, which is essentially the spinal cord and brain of an unborn child.
Because of this important role in a child’s development, folic acid is an absolute must for anyone trying to conceive. It is recommended that you start increasing your folic acid intake prior to conception, and that you keep maintaining high levels of folic acid until well past the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy), during which most of the neuronal development of a child is taking place.
Folic acid can be found in multivitamin tablets, but the vitamin is also present in a variety of different foods. You need about 400 micrograms of folic acid a day, which you can get either through a multivitamin tablet or, for example, fortified cereals, broccoli, spinach, turnips, peas, and beans.
Iron is also extremely important during pregnancy, as this is a compound which is actually vital to maintaining a healthy level of red blood cells. These cells are an essential component of your blood, and are responsible for carrying around oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your body. Iron molecules are critical to the formation of these cells, and more particularly a compound within them called haemoglobin By ensuring an adequate intake of iron, mothers to be can avoid anaemia and ensure that the growing child gets the nutrition it needs.
Iron is readily available in any animal food like poultry, red meat, and fish. Some plants are also very rich in iron, most particularly beans and lentils. Eating citrus fruits helps you absorb the iron you are eating, and so a combination of fruit and animal foods is ideal for maintaining a healthy level of iron.
Are there any foods to avoid if I’m trying to get pregnant?
Some foods are worth avoiding if you are trying to conceive. These include fish like shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel, all four of which are known to possess harmful levels of a substance called methyl mercury, which has been shown to damage the nervous system of developing babies.
Mercury is actually present in a number of different marine animals like fish and shellfish, and generally speaking small quantities of aquatic animals with low levels of mercury, like shrimp, canned tuna, salmon, and catfish, won’t have a detrimental effect on your health. The limit is about 12 ounces a week as recommended by the FDA, a regulatory authority on such matters. Other fish like those mentioned in the previous paragraph however, should be avoided for the sake of your health.
What about drinks?
It is very important to keep hydrated at any time, particularly when you are trying to get pregnant for instance. You should be drinking at least 8 cups of liquid (free of caffeine and alcohol) every day, water is ideal but juice and other drinks are good alternatives.
As far as alcohol is concerned, you are better off not drinking any while trying to conceive as it can be harmful to a developing foetus and potentially impact your fertility. There is some evidence at present that alcohol can also impact ovulation, making it less likely that you will get pregnant.
If you have any questions about particular foods or drinks then the Internet is a great resource. Both the NHS and some private healthcare providers have websites that can provide more information about your specific concerns. Your doctor will be able to provide you with plenty of information about healthy nutrition, and there are many books available to you as well.
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