Unsurprisingly, a lot goes into making a baby. The good news is there’s something you can do to help yourself have a healthy pregnancy and baby: Eat a healthy pregnancy diet. By following a few guidelines dedicated to baby’s wellbeing and yours, you’ll experience some impressive benefits:
- For baby: Helps improve the odds baby is born at a healthy weight, boosts brain development, descreases risk for certain birth defects (including neural tube defects like spina bifida) and, as a bonus, could result in better eating habits after birth as your baby grows to be a potentially picky eater.
- For you: Decreases the odds you’ll experience some pregnancy complications (anemia, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are less prevalent among women who eat well), makes your pregnancy more comfortable (a sensible diet can minimize morning sickness, fatigue, constipationand a host of other pregnancy symptoms), balance your emotions (good nutrition can help moderate mood swings), improve your odds of a timely labor and delivery (you’re less likely to go into preterm labor) and a speedier postpartum recovery (a well-nourished body bounces back faster and has less pounds to shed after delivery).
Luckily scoring these benefits is relatively simple. The foundation of a healthy pregnancy diet is the same as the average healthy diet: a balanced mix of lean protein and calcium, whole grains, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats (with usually a little more calories and nutrients to nourish baby).
SEE THE INFOGRAPHIC: Pregnancy Nutrition 101
Of course, it’s the rare woman who eats well every day, week in and week out, for all 40 weeks of her pregnancy. (Who could? What world does that woman live in?) So don’t stress about it, and don’t feel guilty — the following is a framework for healthy eating, not a strict curriculum to follow (and you’re not being graded). Follow these principles as closely as you can, as often as you can, to have the healthiest, most nutritious pregnancy possible.