What you eat during pregnancy has a direct impact on your developing baby. The more nutritious choices you make today, the better off your little one will be. Throughout these nine months, your child is growing and changing at a remarkable pace – it almost seems as if one day he or she is a clump of cells, and the next a little being who hiccups in your womb!
All of these incredible changes are made possible by baby’s heart, which is already pumping blood by your seventh week of pregnancy. A fetus’ heart helps deliver blood and nutrients throughout its system, promoting healthy development from its first beat. Give your little one the best shot at a strong and healthy heart – and in turn, a healthy body – by making these simple changes to your pregnancy diet:
Add these foods
To ensure baby’s most important organ gets all the love and care it needs, pregnant women need particular vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous, omega-3 fatty acids, and thiamine. While you’re already taking your prenatal vitamin, you can ward off a deficit by adding these foods to your plate:
Whole grains: Swap your white breads and flours for their whole wheat and grain alternatives. Multi-grain breads are easy to find and nowadays, every grocery store is stocking whole wheat, flax, or quinoa noodles. Mix up your breakfasts throughout the week by dedicating a day or two to heart-healthy oatmeal. Experiment with different spices and fruits to keep yourself satisfied.
Greens: Add a kale or spinach smoothie to your breakfast routine. Cook up Swiss chard, mustard greens, or collards as a side dish – or make a nightly salad part of every dinner you have. Making sure you up your green intake doesn’t have to be monotonous. With so many varieties, you can keep your tastebuds always guessing.
Healthy proteins: If you’re a meat-lover, consider weaning yourself off fat-laden and high-cholesterol meats. Opt for leaner options such as turkey breast, chicken, or oily fish to get your animal protein.
Dairy: Low-fat dairy, such as 8 ounces of milk or Greek yogurt can be a great option for meeting your calcium needs. Just make sure any dairy you choose – from milk to yogurt to cheeses – has been safely pasteurized to ensure you and baby stay safe and healthy.
Nuts and beans: For the vegetarians among us, this comes as welcome news. Nuts such as cashews and almonds, and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, not only offer protein, but they also serve up a dose of heart-healthy copper. If you’re not accustomed to eating plenty of legumes, start by adding a serving or two 2 – 3 times each week so that your digestive system has time to adjust to the change.
One more thing
Building up baby’s heart doesn’t mean just adding heart-healthy foods to your diet. It also means cutting back on food choices that could do damage. Talk to your doctor or midwife about monitoring your fat, cholesterol, and sodium intake. In addition, science has spoken: To boost baby’s heart, mom should hit the gym. Again, always consult with your health care provider before making any changes to your diet or exercise regimen. Read more: Prenatal exercise gives baby’s heart a boost