Nutrition plays a major role in the health of expectant mothers and their babies prior to and throughout pregnancy.
It is important to focus on real foods to ensure you are getting the proper nutrition to help your baby grow and develop. Colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nonfat milk are staples in an expectant mother’s diet, says registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer. It is also important to work in protein-rich foods like extra-lean meat such as chicken, fish or dried beans and peas for iron.
Elizabeth recommends taking a moderate-dose multivitamin (try Enfamil Expecta Prenatal supplement) and at least 400 mcg of folic acid to cover your bases on the days when you don’t eat perfectly.
During pregnancy, DHA omega-3 helps to support your infant’s brain, eye and nervous system development and is particularly important in the third trimester when significant brain growth occurs. Developing infants cannot efficiently produce their own DHA and must obtain this vital nutrient through the placenta throughout pregnancy and from breast milk after birth. Maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy and nursing significantly enhances the level of DHA available to the infant and may improve certain developmental outcomes such as:
- Eye-hand coordination
- Motor skills
- Attention span
DHA also provides important maternal benefits. It is suggested DHA supplementation during pregnancy can help lengthen gestation and support the mental state of the mother.
Most women do not get enough DHA in their diets. Fortunately, a growing awareness of the dietary sources of DHA, as well as the recent inclusion of DHA in certain prenatal products and fortified foods, are making it easier for women to include this important nutrient in their everyday diets. Check out some of these DHA-rich products for expectant moms: