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The diet during the first month of pregnancy affects the health of the developing foetus. This article will tell you the foods you should and shouldn’t eat in the first month.
Foods You Should Eat During the First Month of Pregnancy
The symptoms of pregnant become noticeable only after about 2 ½ weeks of pregnancy. So, accounting for that, you need to follow a specific diet plan.
1. Dairy Products
Dairy products, especially the fortified ones are a great source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, healthy fats, and folic acid. Add yoghurt, and milk to your diet to gain the benefits of these nutrients.
2. Folate-Rich Foods
During the early development of the foetus, folic acid helps form the neural tube. Folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida). It’s important to add folate-rich foods to your diet even if you are taking folic acid supplements. Examples of such foods are citrus fruits, beans, peas, lentils, rice, and fortified cereal.
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a healthy source of carbohydrates, dietary fibre, vitamin B-complex, and minerals like iron, magnesium and selenium. These are essential for your baby’s growth and development. Examples of whole grains include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, millets, and oatmeal.
4. Eggs and Poultry
Fruits such as musk melon, avocado, pomegranate, banana, guava, oranges, sweet lime, strawberries, and apples contain several vitamins and antioxidants necessary for the growth of the baby in the womb.
Plenty of vegetables on your plate will ensure your baby gets all the nutrients. Some vegetables you should include are broccoli, kale, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, drumstick, eggplant, cabbage, etc.
7. Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts are excellent sources of healthy fats, vitamins, proteins, minerals, flavonoids, and dietary fibre. Make sure you eat these regularly in the first month and also throughout your pregnancy.
Fish has low-fat and high-quality protein. It’s also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins B2, D, and E, and essential minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and phosphorous.
Meat contains vitamin B, proteins, zinc, and iron which are good for you and the baby. Include lean meats in your diet in the first month of pregnancy.
10. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for fetal brain and eye development. The presence of Vitamin D can prevent preeclampsia – all the more reason to have it!
11. Dried Fruits
One serving of dried fruits provide a host of vitamins, minerals, iron, potassium and folate to pregnant women. Prunes and dates are good choices. However, these are also rich in natural sugars, so avoid taking more than one helping at a time.
12. Iodised Salt
Only use iodised table salt during pregnancy. Salt that has been infused with iodine can help the baby’s nervous system and brain to develop properly.
Foods To Avoid in the First Month of Pregnancy
There are some foods which should be avoided during early pregnancy. Here are some of them:
1. Soft Cheese
Soft cheese is made from unpasteurised milk and contains bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Hence, it’s best to avoid soft cheese during early pregnancy.
2. Packaged and Processed Foods
Packaged and processed foods such as juices, microwave-ready meals, cakes, biscuits, condensed milk, etc. contain preservatives and empty calories. Some packaged foods may also contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Eat fresh, home-cooked meals made with natural or organic produce instead.
Seafood contains high levels of mercury, that can lead to foetal brain damage and a delay in developmental milestones. Avoid swordfish, and raw shellfish, and limit the consumption of tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring.
Unripe and semi-ripe papayas contain latex, which triggers uterine contractions and causes preterm labour or even miscarriage. Avoid these during pregnancy. Ripe papayas, however, contain several nutrients and can be consumed in moderation if your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
Pineapples contain bromelain, that can soften the cervix and lead to miscarriages or preterm labour. So, it’s better to avoid pineapples during early pregnancy.
6. Raw/Undercooked Eggs and Meats
Raw or undercooked meats may be contaminated by bacteria, salmonella, listeria, etc. that can affect the development of the unborn child. Even slightly undercooked pork contains roundworm cysts that can cause serious damage to the baby’s health.
Caffeine should be limited in early pregnancy as an excess of it causes sleeplessness, irritability and nervousness. It also increases the risk of miscarriage.
8. Alcoholic Beverages
9. Sugary Foods
A pregnant woman needs an extra 300 calories per day to support the growth of the baby. However, consuming too many sweets leads to weight gain and gestational diabetes.
Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Take prenatal vitamins, including folic acid.
- Talk to your doctor before embarking on a strict diet regime.
- Moderation is key – even healthy foods should be consumed in moderation. Excess of anything is bad.
- Include fruits and vegetables on your plate and cut down on junk food.
- Drink water.
In the first month of pregnancy, several changes take place in your body. Hormonal changes can cause mood swings, fatigue and morning sickness. Eat healthy food, have small meals at regular intervals, keep yourself hydrated, do light exercises, and be stress-free to minimise these symptoms and keep your baby healthy and happy.