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Yum-yum, soon to be mum - healthy eating during pregnancy

A baby has only one source of food Ė you. During pregnancy, more than at any other time, it is necessary to have as varied and as wide a diet as possible. You donít need to plan special meals and you donít have to eat for two.

To have a good diet during pregnancy all you need to do is eat a variety of fresh, unprocessed foods from the selection below. Doing that will ensure you get all the nutrients you and baby need.

Calcium:
Calcium is important to ensure the healthy development of your babyís bones which start to form from about eight weeks. You will need about two times as much calcium as usual, good sources include dairy products such as milk and cheese Ė although they are quite fatty so get low fat versions if you can, green vegetables, brazil nuts, sardines or several slices of white bread.

Protein:
Fish, meat, pulses and dairy foods all supply protein. Peanuts (even peanut butter), lentils, eggs and hard cheeses are all other good sources. Animal products can be high in fat so try to always get lean cuts. White meat is less fatty then red meat while fish is an excellent all rounder.

Vitamin C:
Helps to build a strong placenta, helps your body to fight infection as well as helping in the absorption of iron. It is required daily since the body cannot store vitamin C. Any vegetable or fruit is a good source so there are a wide variety of possibilities from oranges to cabbage. However, remember that a lot of vitamin C is lost by prolonged storage and cooking, so try to only eat fresh produce and steam green vegetables or eat them raw.

Fibre:
Fibre should be a large part of your diet because constipation is common during pregnancy and fibre is good for preventing this. Fruit and vegetables are great sources for fibre since you can eat quite a lot of them during the day. Donít concentrate too much on bran since it can hinder the absorption of other nutrients. There are plenty of other alternatives, try: wholemeal bread; mixed nuts; raspberries, whole wheat pasta; garden peas; dried apricots; raisins; leaks; or brown rice.

Folic Acid:
This is needed for the growth of the babyís central nervous system, particularly in the first few weeks. The body canít store this nutrient and during pregnancy excretes several times the usual amount; therefore itís necessary to have a daily intake. Fresh dark green, leafy vegetables are a good source of folic acid, but remember to steam them or eat them raw. Broccoli, spinach, hazelnuts, peanuts and wholemeal bread are all good sources of folic acid.

Iron:
This is needed in increased amounts throughout the pregnancy. The baby needs to build up a store of iron for after the birth and the extra blood your body produces needs iron to carry its oxygen. Iron from animals is absorbed more readily than iron from other foods such as dried fruit and pulses, so if you donít eat meat combine iron rich foods with those rich in vitamin C to maximise the absorption.



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