You need extra calcium and iron during pregnancy. So which healthy foods do you need to add to your diet to make sure you get them?
We need vitamin D because it helps the body absorb calcium properly. We all get a certain amount of vitamin D from sunshine, but in our climate we can’t always be sure we’ll get enough. So take a vitamin supplement especially formulated for pregnancy that contains vitamin D.
Your body needs calcium especially in the second trimester of pregnancy to build your baby’s bones. It’s recommended that pregnant women avoid certain soft cheeses because of the risk of listeria and other harmful bacteria. But other soft cheeses, such as cottage cheese, feta cheese, paneer and halloumi are safe to eat, so don’t cut out cheese altogether because it’s a good source of calcium.
To boost calcium levels, drink a glass of milk a day or snack on low-fat yogurts. If you can’t tolerate dairy products, soya yogurts and other soya products are also good sources of calcium, so make sure they are part of your diet. Dark green leafy vegetables such as savoy cabbage, pak choi, spinach and broccoli are also high in calcium, so include a portion of one of these vegetables in your main meal.
You need more iron during pregnancy for your growing baby and for you. Iron supplements can cause constipation, so try to get the iron you need from your diet. Red meat is one of the best sources (except liver, which should be avoided during pregnancy). Turkey and chicken are also good sources of iron.
Ensure your breakfast cereal is fortified with vitamins and iron. Include iron-rich pulses such as lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and lima beans in your main meal, especially if you don’t eat meat. Edamame (boiled soybeans) make a delicious vegetable accompaniment and are a good source of iron. Snack on pumpkin seeds, raisins and a glass of prune juice.
It’s worth remembering that iron is most easily absorbed in the body when vitamin C is present. A glass of fresh juice or fresh fruit eaten as a pudding helps your body make the most of the iron in your meals.