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Healthy Breakfast for a Pregnant Woman

By Jill Corleone, RDN, LD

As a mom-to-be you want to make sure your baby gets everything she needs. While you might be thinking crib and car seat, you also want to make sure she gets adequate nutrients for proper growth and development while she's in the womb. Starting your day out right with a healthy breakfast can set you up for good eating the rest of the day.

Whole Grains for Energy

Grains are an important part of your diet when pregnant. They provide carbohydrates, which is your body's preferred source of energy, iron, B vitamins, folic acid and fiber. Folic acid is especially important during pregnancy because it helps prevent spinal cord birth defects. At least half the grains you eat each day should come from whole grains. There are a number of whole grain food choices you can have at breakfast, including oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, whole wheat bread or pancakes and waffles made from whole-grain flours.

Fiber for Regularity

When pregnant, you want to make sure you get plenty of fiber to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. Eating whole fruit at your breakfast can help make sure you get some of that needed fiber.. Plus, many fruits are also a good source of vitamins A and C. Good breakfast fruit options include berries, bananas, oranges, melon and apples.

Protein: The Blood Builder

The most common nutritional problem pregnant women face is iron deficiency, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To prevent that lack, it's important that you eat plenty of food sources of iron throughout the day, including breakfast. Meat, poultry, seafood and beans are good sources of iron and protein. While you might not normally eat these types of food at breakfast, fitting them in every once and a while can help your iron stores. Try half a roast beef sandwich or a bowl of iron-fortified cereal for an iron-packed early meal. Even greens, such as spinach and kale, could be added to a breakfast omelet for an iron boost.

Dairy for Bone Health

When pregnant, not only do you need calcium for your bones, but you also need it for the development of the baby's bones and teeth, as well as the heart, nerves and muscles. Dairy foods, including milk, yogurt and cheese, are all good sources of calcium. To help meet your daily calcium needs of 1,000 milligrams, try to fit in a good source of calcium at breakfast.

Putting it all Together

Now that you know the what and the why to a healthy breakfast during your pregnancy, some sample meals can help you see how it all fits together. On cold mornings, hot oatmeal topped with sliced banana and chopped almonds with a container of low-fat yogurt makes a good choice. Or, a cheese omelet with diced turkey, whole wheat toast and a fresh orange can help you meet your daily iron, calcium and folic acid needs. If you need to eat on the go, whip up a smoothie made with low-fat vanilla yogurt, strawberries, bananas, kale and ice.

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