Pregnant mothers always have their babies’ best interests at heart. Part of doing what’s right by your child includes making sure you’re getting the vitamin-rich foods she needs for sound development. Food for pregnant women should be rich in iron, omega-3, protein, folic acid and calcium.

Food That Contains Folic Acid and Omega-3

Folic acid is vital to have in the in the body even before you are pregnant. This nutrient reduces the risk of a neural tube defect known as spina bifida. When a child is born with this condition, her spine is not completely closed, and she can suffer with varying degrees of paralysis, learning disabilities and incontinence.

Most experts recommend women get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid prior to pregnancy, and 600 micrograms during pregnancy. Foods that contain folic acid include citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, beans and nuts.

Although prenatal vitamins contain adequate levels of folic acid, it’s still important for you to eat plenty of foods that contain this nutrient throughout your pregnancy.

Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat that is important for the healthy development of your unborn baby’s retinas, brain and nervous system. This fatty acid also reduces the risk of cesarean birth, low birth weight, preterm labor and postpartum depression. It is recommended that you get 250mg of omega-3 in your diet everyday when you’re expecting.

A diet rich in seafood can help you get all the omega-3 you need. When choosing fish, remember that some types of fish contain high levels of mercury. Eating too much mercury-contaminated seafood can affect your baby’s nervous system.

Some types of fish to avoid during pregnancy include swordfish, shark, tilefish, orange roughy, marlin, grouper and king mackerel. Safe types of seafood include anchovies, herring, spiny lobster, wild salmon, sole, shad, king crab, catfish, whitefish, caviar, ocean perch, squid, shrimp and scallops.

If you’re not a fan of fish, you can get omega-3 from non-seafood sources like flaxseed oil, organic eggs, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. You can also get this nutrient by taking omega-3 fish oil supplements. However, never take these supplements without talking to your doctor first.

Foods That Contain Calcium and Iron

Calcium is important for the development of your baby’s bones. If you fail to get enough of this mineral for your body, your fetus will leech from your stores and leave you with weak, brittle bones.

It’s a common misconception that dairy products are the only available source of calcium. But this mineral is abundant in plant-based foods like green beans, cabbage, okra, oranges, black beans, almonds, hazelnuts, chick peas and broccoli.

Calcium from plant sources are absorbed more efficiently by the body than calcium obtained from dairy sources.

Your baby relies solely on you for the iron he needs to build red blood cells and transport oxygen through the body. Without adequate levels of iron in your body, you’ll become weak, tired, and have trouble regulating your body temperature.

Experts recommend expecting mothers get between 30 to 50mg of iron per day. You can meet these recommendations by filling your diet with iron-rich foods like lean meat, poultry, green veggies, beans, chick peas, lentils and pumpkin seeds.

Protein-Rich Foods

The amino acids in protein aids in the development of fingers, toes, muscles, internal organs, hair and nails. This nutrient is especially important during the second trimester of pregnancy when your baby is growing at an accelerated pace. Protein-rich foods include raw nuts, lean meats, poultry, eggs and fish.

Pregnancy is not the time to compromise on nutrition. Eating foods that are rich in folic acid, omega-3, iron, calcium and protein can help meet your baby’s nutritional needs so he can grow healthy and strong.

Food for pregnant women should be full of nutrition. Learn to follow a nutritious eating program at

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