So, these last nine months have been quite the roller coaster ever since we found out we were expecting.
It had been a collective feeling of joy, a fear of the unknown and being at a general loss as what to do next. A series of changes took place, not just in lifestyle, but also in terms of my lady and baby’s physical condition. Amidst the many medical visits, we found that changes in diet had to come into place, and this happens to be the case with many expecting mothers.
Unfortunately, there are some who might assume that pregnancy would be an opportune time to let one’s hair down for a prolonged period. However, it’s imperative to remember that pregnant women still need to eat right, if not omit certain foods which could seem to be a mere satisfying indulgence, but could very well be harmful to the baby, as it could cause him/her rapid weight gain, which is not ideal for either party.
The usual suspects are meals or snacks which are high in sugars and the usual carbohydrates, which unfortunately feature as some of women’s top ranked cravings. Here are a few tips which I’ve tried and tested… No prizes for guessing on who!
The First Trimester
Did someone say hormones? I think I’ll join the rest of the daddy brigade saying that the first trimester is very trying for both parents-to-be. Hormone level changes – through no fault of the expecting mother – causes undesired stress throughout the first few months of pregnancy. As a small tip, consuming food high in omega 3 is ideal. Food high in these essential fats – which are fundamental building blocks for hormone production – will help. Opt for coconut oil to fry in and go for salmon or fish cakes. However, try to avoid tuna, as it contains high levels of mercury which are harmful to the baby. Obviously, fish should always be consumed cooked and not raw during pregnancy, so no sushi for the next few months! Shellfish is also to be avoided.
Your gynaecologist will also have prescribed Folic Acid, which is vital to prevent neural tube defects in your baby. There are many great ways to get more of these in your natural diet. Prepping meals that include ingredients which are naturally laden with Follic acid is a plus. Spinach, kale, broccoli, okra, Brussels sprouts, lentils, dried beans, citrus fruits and peas are but a few foods which you could be adding to your meals.
Nausea is possibly the most common ailment of the first part of pregnancy, and it’s pretty tough to deal with for some mothers to be. Add ginger to as many of your meals as you possibly can to help battle nausea.
The Second Trimester
This was the super woman period for us! I must admit this was the one we had breezed through. To add to the never-ending list of ailments which make themselves known through pregnancy, constipation is a common problem. Even though my lady’s carb intake was at a minimal in order to avoid rapid growth for the baby, those which we’d consume when I prepared meals were wholegrain, including wholemeal bread, cereals or pasta, as well as oats, barley, fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds. However, do not cut out carbs entirely as these offer key nutrients that among other things help give energy to the mum-to-be.
Leg cramps were also another painful experience, but also rather funny if not confusing for me. I was very often woken up in the middle of the night, repeatedly being hit on my arm or my face, till I realised that I had to come to the cramp rescue. Increasing your magnesium intake could help ward off cramps. Spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, yoghurt, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate and bananas are full of magnesium. Other foods include salmon, coriander, cashews, goat’s cheese and artichokes.
The Third Trimester
This had been the hardest part, for reasons which every pregnant couple will quickly highlight. The weight increase makes it harder for the mother-to-be to feel comfortable. Sleep starts to become an issue, and increased indigestion and heart burn also adds to the discomfort. Water retention – especially in our summer months – is a killer. Certain diuretic and potassium-rich foods can help combat edema, and the examples below are a variety of vegetables which make for some jazzed up salads.
Diuretic: Lemon, oats, celery, ginger, beets, apple cider vinegar, cabbage, eggplant, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, garlic, artichokes and asparagus
Potassium: Sweet potatoes, tomatoes sauces, beet greens, beans, yoghurt, prunes, carrot juice and bananas
I also recommend the following ideas for breakfast:
Nutty Banana: Creamy peanut butter, mashed banana and chopped peanuts
Blueberry Muffin: Fresh or frozen blueberries, molasses, cinnamon, topped with a little granola
Maple-Fig: Chopped dried or fresh figs, maple syrup, chopped walnuts, topped with plain Greek yoghurt