Springtime is one of the best seasons of the year to be pregnant. The sun has finally returned from its long winter nap and the days are – thankfully – warm again. Mother Nature starts putting on a show with budding trees, blooming flowers and carpets of green grass, almost as if she knows you’re creating new life as well inside you. Best of all, springtime brings us some of the most healthy and nutritious foods that you and your baby can enjoy.
Especially if you’re in your third trimester, what you eat now is going to have a huge effect on the development of your baby. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to make sure both you and your baby get the nutrition you need. So, here’s a list of five seasonally-fresh, springtime foods that are delicious for you and extra important for your baby.
As springtime superfoods go, strawberries may top the list. Strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C – just one serving contains more Vitamin C than an orange. This not only keeps you healthy but assists in the development of your baby’s immune system. Strawberries also provide considerable amounts of calcium and phosphorous. Calcium is critical for bone growth and for the development and functioning of muscles, heart and nerves. Phosphorus is important as it aids in bone development, digestion, cell repair and other chemical reactions that take place in the body. And perhaps best of all, strawberries are a terrific alternative for moms with a sweet tooth!
And remember, wash your strawberries thoroughly before eating them. Washing helps remove pesticide and fertilizer residue, as well as reducing the risk of ingesting soil-bred bacteria and parasites, such as E. coli.!
Our Tip: Save money by purchasing organic strawberries in bulk, then freeze them and use them throughout the week in smoothies.
Not only does one cup of dried figs have 5 grams of fiber, it’s also a significant source of iron. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of anemia, as your growing baby requires enough iron to produce millions of red blood cells. Stewed figs contain almost 10% of your recommended daily dose of iron in 1 cup. This same portion contains 23 micrograms of vitamin K, which helps to increase blood clotting and bone formation.3
In addition, figs are a great non-dairy source of calcium, as one serving contains 1,000 milligrams of calcium, or about a quarter of your daily requirement. And it doesn’t end there: figs contain potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, minerals that are critical to assist in the developments of teeth forming below the gums of your growing baby’s mouth.
Tasty Tips: Create a fig purée to use as a sweetener or fat substitute in your favorite. You can make fig purée by combining 8 ounces of dried figs with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water in a blender.
According to a McMaster University Department of Pediatrics Study published in the industry journal Nutrients, “Avocados are a must-eat for pregnant women.” As the authors note, it is part of a larger effort to “review the evidence that avocados may be a unique nutrition source for pregnant and lactating women and, thus, should be considered for inclusion in future dietary recommendations for expecting and new mothers.”1
Avocados are an abundant source of “good fat” (not saturated or transfats). They are also rich in iron, which helps prevent anemia, as well as folate, which is known to help prevent congenital disabilities during pregnancy. It is also a good way to include potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E in your diet. Regular consumption of avocados also helps regulate cholesterol and sugar levels in your body.
Our Tip: How do you tell an avocado is ready to eat? Peel back the small stem or cap at the top of the avocado. If it comes away easily and you find green underneath, you’re good to go!
These yummy green stalks are packed with folic acid and Vitamin K, both of which are helpful for preventing birth defects in the fetus. Asparagus also supplies a good dose of Vitamins B9, C and A, as well as calcium and fiber.
Asparagus is one of those vegetables for which it is essential to wash and cook well before eating to get rid of the harmful microbes the raw vegetable might contain 4. Besides being at the risk of ingesting parasites, you may even be deprived of adequate nutrition if you eat it in its uncooked form.
Safety warnings: Since asparagus contains the carbohydrate raffinose, it may increase gas formation in your stomach that can be even more intense if you already suffer from digestive ailments 5, 6. Avoid consuming asparagus if you are allergic to onion, leeks, garlic, and chives, as they all belong to the same family6. If not, asparagus remains, a must-have on the springtime shopping carts of all expectant mothers.
Our Tip: A dash of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a quick squeeze of lemon is the easiest and tastiest way to eat Asparagus.
One medium artichoke contains about 100 mg of folic acid, making it one of the most folic-rich sources of food available. They are also a vital source of iron and fiber, which is sometimes difficult to find for vegetarian moms. Folate, as well as iron, are energizing nutrients which help your body metabolize proteins. In addition, artichokes are packed with magnesium and potassium, minerals that help lower blood pressure. This is vital for mothers who may be prone to preeclampsia.
During your pregnancy, you may suffer from constipation, which can be alleviated with some extra fiber in your diet. Artichokes are a terrific source of fiber, with 10 grams in each. Artichokes are often recommended to soothe indigestion as well, another common pregnancy complaint.
Our Tip: Grilled artichokes are the best. Steam for five minutes, cut in half, brush with olive oil and grill for another five minutes.
If you want your children to enjoy these foods as much as you, start eating them now and expose your baby to these tastes in utero. The spring harvest provides expecting moms with some of the best foods to choose from. So remember, If you’re not fond of kale but are looking for a source of Vitamin K, you can eat asparagus instead, or switch out spinach for avocado to get your requirement of iron.
To learn more about your baby's health during pregnancy, or to plan for pregnancy, visit Natera's Women's Health page to learn how our cell-free DNA tests can help. For more information about Natera billing, please contact the Natera billing phone number at 1-844-384-2996 (8 am-7 pm CT M-F) or visit the Natera billing page.