There is a common misconception that pregnant women need to eat a lot of lean meat and red meat to get enough nutrients while pregnant. However, it is more important to focus on the benefits that come with what you're eating, instead of the actual food itself. There are a lot of women who have perfectly healthy vegan pregnancies because they find foods that give them the nutrients they need specifically, instead of just trying to eat a well-balanced diet.
Of course, there are a lot of benefits that can come from eating lean meat, but most moms-to-be naturally lack a lot of essential nutrients and benefits in their diet. These nutrients are essential for growing a healthy baby and should ideally be consumed before a mother even conceived, but most moms don’t even know that they are not getting them.
The best advice is to listen to your body and understand what it is craving and why. Avocados may be high in fats and watermelon may be high in sugar, but there are also so many benefits to these foods. So, if your body is craving them, it probably means that it needs them and could use them for energy.
The healthier you are, the easier it will be for you to feel when your body isn’t receiving what it needs. While many moms don’t get enough nutrients while carrying a baby, it’s not as hard as you may think to avoid these deficiencies. It just takes a little bit of time, research and possibly some meal planning. However, if you don’t put the energy into learning and educating yourself, there are many deficiencies that could harm the mother and the baby during pregnancy.
Growing a baby is a lot of work and women who are pregnant need to fuel their body properly to make sure they are optimizing health for themselves and their baby. When a diet contains insufficient nutrients, a person’s health will decline quickly, especially if they are already pregnant. There are many reasons that moms end up malnourished but
the main two come down to a lack of knowledge, and a lack of money to be able to afford nutrient-rich foods.
However, simply sticking to your normal diet while pregnant definitely does not cut it. So many women are malnourished and they don’t even know it. However, once they start learning what they should be eating, their energy levels go way up, and their growing baby is much happier and healthier.
To be honest, most people, in general, consume far less water than they truly need almost every day. A lot of us live in a chronically dehydrated state, but our body simply gets used to running on that and so we think it’s normal. However, if you all of a sudden began drinking the amount of water recommended, which is about two liters or half a gallon, then you will feel so much more energized, and less tired, dizzy or fatigued.
While dehydration is problematic all of the time, it is very risky during pregnancy because water is used to form the placenta, which passes nutrients to your growing baby. Serious complications can occur such as neural tube defects, low amniotic fluid, premature labor, poor production of breast milk, and birth defects. Since your body automatically uses more water while pregnant, it’s very important to replace that lost fluid.
When a woman becomes pregnant, her body instantly starts producing more blood to support the growth of her baby. Because of this, iron intake is extremely important to make sure that you’re getting enough nutrients to produce the correct amount of red blood cells.
As scary as it sounds, many pregnant women are actually borderline or slightly anemic because they are lacking in iron.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia during pregnancy, and while a mild case of it probably won’t affect your baby while pregnant, if it goes untreated or gets worse within the first two trimesters, there is an increased risk of stillbirth, the death of the newborn, and a low birth rate. Dairy products, soy, coffee, and tea are all known to prevent your body from absorbing iron-rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, quinoa, lentils, and beans, so it’s recommended to give your body time to digest them before eating the iron-rich foods.
There is this common idea that anyone who is not dying of starvation can’t be lacking in protein. Just about everything has protein in it, so a protein deficiency might seem hard to come by. A lot of opposers of the vegan diet claim that there is no way people can get protein without eating animal products, however, that is not the case.
While good protein comes in lean meats, salmon, poultry and egg whites, other good sources include peanut butter, soy, tofu, beans, and legumes. While it may seem easy to get all the good proteins that you need while pregnant, there are actually a lot of bad sources of protein that could actually cause harm. Soft cheeses, raw fish, and deli meats are all high in protein but they can cause miscarriages or birth defects to unborn babies.
One of the most serious effects of iodine deficiency is damage to the unborn baby. Usually, when women first conceive, the thought of iodine deficiency is not the first thing on their radar. They might cut out coffee, and soda, maybe buy some prenatal vitamins and think they are having a healthy first trimester, but they could be missing the single most important thing. All kinds of seafood are a very good source of iodine, but often times with food aversions, pregnant women stay away from the fishy smells.
The risky part comes in when pregnant women who are following pretty strict diets are cutting out a lot of their other sources of iodine that are essential during pregnancy.
Anyone who is dairy-free, skipping iodized salt, vegan, paleo, or doesn’t eat eggs, is at risk of iodine deficiency
and should ask their doctor about ways to incorporate enough into their diet.
Spontaneous abortion and miscarriages are a much higher occurrence in pregnant women who have low levels of zinc. Zinc deficiency alone can make you infertile. Zinc works with more than 300 enzymes in the body to keep things working properly. Women need a certain amount of zinc in their diet to ensure they produce mature eggs that are ready for fertilization. It also provides enough liquid in the follicles for eggs to travel through the fallopian tubes and implant.
Research shows that very few people get the correct amount of zinc in their diet, depriving them of important minerals that are essential to a healthy pregnancy. Different types of seeds, lamb, beef, yogurt and green peas are all very good sources of zinc that should be in your diet.
By taking a vitamin supplement, many moms-to-be might think that they are good to go. However, vitamin-rich foods like spinach, kale, dark leafy greens and squash are still a very important part of your diet. The vitamins and nutrients you get from healthy foods absorb in your body much better than simply taking it in pill form.
However, pregnant women should be taking a prenatal vitamin as well because it helps cover any nutritional gaps that they didn’t meet in their food intake.
It is very important for pregnant women to realize that vitamin supplements do not replace a healthy diet.
They are only there to ensure any areas where vitamins and nutrients may be lacking, but the vitamin supplements should only be taken with a healthcare professional’s approval.
Folate is a B vitamin and is absolutely essential in preventing neural tube defects and serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord for growing babies. The neural tube is the part of the embryo from which your baby's spine and brain develop. This effects over 3,000 pregnancies in the United States each year, which clearly shows that many pregnant women are not getting enough folate in their diet.
If a woman starts taking the recommended amount of folate a month before conception and continues during the first trimester of her pregnancy, the risk of neural tube defects is reduced by 70%. Some researchers even believe that a proper amount of folate in a pregnant woman’s diet can help lower your baby's risk of other defects as well, such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain types of heart defects.
When you’re pregnant it can be hard to keep anything down. The morning sickness is real and for many women, it lasts throughout their entire pregnancy. However, if nausea causes vomiting, the mom-to-be and her baby are at risk of lacking vital nutrients. While morning sickness is a common complaint of an expecting mother
with 85% of women affected, there is a big difference between a normal pregnancy side effect, and something much more dangerous.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition where women experience more severe symptoms of pregnancy, such as profuse nausea and vomiting. Consequences of this can be rapid heart rate, weight loss, and low blood pressure. When the vomiting becomes so severe, your baby won’t be getting the nutrients it needs to grow and develop properly.
After a baby is delivered, excessive bleeding from the uterus is a major concern. Vitamin K is the substance that our body needs in order to form blood clots and stop bleeding. This means that if we are not getting enough vitamin k from the food we eat while pregnant, there is a much higher risk of over bleeding during delivery. The bleeding can occur anywhere on the outside or inside of the body, and if your baby cannot stop bleeding after it’s born, it is because it didn’t get enough vitamin k.
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale, broccoli, prunes, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, and fermented dairy all have great sources of vitamin k and should be consumed regularly during pregnancy to ensure optimal health of the mom and the baby.
Having a strong immune system is important at all times, but for a pregnant mom-to-be, it is especially crucial. Strengthening your body’s defenses against illnesses is extremely important when it comes to protecting the health of your unborn baby. Having a cough or catching a cold might not seem like the end of the world normally, but when you are growing a baby inside of you, your health is much more vital.
The woman’s body actually suppresses her immune system while she is pregnant so that her body doesn’t reject the fetus as something foreign. This makes you more likely to develop illnesses, which means it is essential to get a good night’s sleep, and eat a large number of fruits and vegetables as they are the best way to get powerful antioxidant vitamins and minerals.
If a woman does not prioritize healthy eating and proper nutrition before she becomes pregnant, it is unlikely that she will change were ways very much after she conceived her child, even though their body has additional demands. Nutrients support the embryo growth and it is within the first five weeks that the embryo develops most of its organs, including heart, brain, and lungs, making
nutritional deficiencies at this stage possibly cause issues and infections in the womb.
Luckily, many babies are not affected if the mom develops an infection while she is pregnant, but if the infections end up being transferred to the baby, it can complicate your pregnancy and even lead to preterm labor. This is why eating healthy, building up your immune system, and working to prevent infections is a huge priority.
Fatigue and tiredness are all very common side effects of an unhealthy diet. People often feel sluggish and unmotivated. The food they eat doesn’t provide them with the energy they need to live productive lives, but it is addicting so people keep eating it. This becomes a big problem once a woman becomes pregnant because her body is already going through so many changes. Many moms-to-be are very tired because growing a baby is a lot of work.
However, if you combine this natural sense of tiredness and lack of energy with the added fact that your diet is causing the same effects, you are setting yourself up for a terrible pregnancy. Most women want to be able to enjoy their nine months of a growing baby bump. They want to be able to dress cute and take adorable maternity photos, but many women have no idea that their diet is hindering their life in so many ways.
Studies have shown that bad nutrition has been linked to nearly 40% of premature births in developed countries, that were otherwise unexplained. Premature birth is by far the most common cause of newborn death and it has increased in western societies in the past decade. A recent study in the United States showed that
women who did not eat regular meals or ate less frequently than normal were very likely to have reduced nutrition and deliver their babies early.
The research shows a premature surge in fetal levels of the hormone cortisol in undernourished women. This surge is critical for the full development of many organs in the baby, including the lungs. Because these vital organs are developing early, it causes premature labor. When a woman doesn’t intake enough nutrients, her baby won’t develop essential qualities for their health.
Most people understand that a diet full of unhealthy fats and sugars is not the best for your body. However, not only is a mom putting herself at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, she is also increasing the risk that her child will develop mental health disorders as they grow. According to CNN.com, an unhealthy diet has been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and conduct problems, such as lying, fighting, and stealing, due to changes in a child's DNA.
It’s clear that prenatal exposure to these unhealthy foods combined with a lack of nutrients causes developmental psychology issues. Other mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression in children have also been linked to their moms not consuming enough vitamins, nutrients, and healthy foods while she was pregnant with them. Introducing a healthy diet to the child at an early age also failed to reverse this effect, which should truly show how essential it is more a pregnant woman to prioritize healthy foods.
Sources: Healthline.com, babycenter.com, modernmom.com, natural-fertility-info.com, AmericanPregnancy.org, motherandbaby.co.uk, newscientist.com, sciencedaily.com