Proper nutrition is always important, but it’s particularly important during pregnancy, when a mother’s health can directly impact the health of the fetus growing inside them.
Most of our vitamins and nutrients often come from food, and pregnancy can make nutrient balance difficult in a few different ways. First of all, morning sickness and nauseousness can make it difficult to keep food down. Next, many pregnant women experience cravings, which often lead to an unbalanced diet.
If you’re having difficulty maintaining a balanced diet that provides the nutrients needed during pregnancy, here are some options:
If you’re having trouble with solid foods, but can still hydrate and keep soft foods down, you might try green smoothies, milkshakes, and other forms of liquid nourishment. You can buy pre-made mixes with certain vitamins and minerals or make your own with ingredients high in the nutrients you need. B vitamins and folic acid are extremely important for pregnant women. Leafy greens are often high in these properties. These same vegetables are the most common in juices and smoothies because they have so many other health properties. Liquid nutrition can be a great option for pregnant women who struggle with solid food.
Thanks to nausea, sometimes even keeping water down is difficult, and hydration is one of the most important factors in properly absorbing nutrients. During the worst bouts of morning sickness, some women need to hydrate with IV therapy. IV treatments like the Myers Cocktail
can pull double duty by providing hydration and specific nutrients at the same time. Supplementation is no replacement for a balanced diet, but it can be a great short term solution for those in the first trimester, when most digestive issues occur. Oral or suppository supplementation is also an option for some women.
If you’re only able to keep certain foods down or your cravings make it difficult to get a certain vitamin, mineral, or other source of nutrition, try adding small amounts of variation to your current diet. This can mean pureeing vegetables with important nutrients and hiding them in sauces, soups, or casseroles. Or if meat is upsetting your digestive system, you can try alternate protein sources like legumes. It is important to talk with your doctor about how different foods can affect your health. Medical professionals can also suggest other alternative sources of specific nutrients, and recommend when supplementation will be useful and when it won’t be effective.
It’s important to remember that the method of delivery often matters with nutrients. Some cooking methods reduce the nutrition value of certain foods. This is why eating raw or minimally cooked vegetables is usually recommended. Steaming is also a cooking method that kills less nutrients than long cooking methods like roasting. Certain B vitamins can only be absorbed with other B vitamins, meaning that supplements without complex B vitamins won’t be effective. Magnesium can be just as effective absorbed through the skin as through food, but other nutrients must be digested or introduced straight into the bloodstream.
Prenatal health is a complicated issue, and no pregnant woman will have the exact same experience as another. It’s important to look at your health from a well-rounded perspective, looking at the nutrients you are consuming and what deficiencies may be present in your diet. Proper nutrition during pregnancy can reduce complications, prevent pregnancy-related illnesses for the mother, and aid in the healthy development of the child.