Nutrition is scarily one of hardest facts about teenage pregnancy to tackle. Pregnancy nutrition can be a bit daunting for any new mom, but for teens that are already feeding a growing body it gets tougher. Are teens capable of having a healthy pregnancy? Absolutely! Teens need to take care of their body, and that probably means changing some nutrition habits. Most pregnant women brush up on nutrition habits, however, teens often do not have as much education about pregnancy nutrition. Many of the physical effects before and after baby that teen moms experience can be minimized with good nutrition during pregnancy.
Nutrition Facts You Must Know To Have a Healthy Pregnancy As A Teenager
I cannot say enough how important taking a prenatal vitamin is as soon as the new teenage mom finds out she is pregnant. This is one area many pregnant teenagers need some guidance and facts. There are three major vitamins that a pregnant woman needs.
- Folic Acid: Folic acid helps to prevent neural tube deficiencies, illnesses like Spina Bifida or an opening at the spine. Folic acid needs to be increased early in the pregnancy for healthy development. Foods higher in folic acid include leafy greens, peas, egg yolks, nuts and beans. Try healthy bean burritos, adding side salads or a scrambled egg with breakfast to up folic acid.
- Iron: Iron is often low in teens already, who frequently do not eat much red meat. Low iron can cause fatigue, low energy levels and can double the risk of a preterm baby. Leafy greens like spinach and red meat both carry high iron levels.
- Calcium: Pregnant teens need 1,300 milligrams of calcium to keep their own bone mass from suffering. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fortified juices or even almonds can help to up a girl up her intake. Without proper calcium intake during pregnancy, a teen girl has a much higher risk for osteoporosis later in life.
I know many a teen that are at Starbucks more than I am. Those points add up! Pregnant women should try to limit caffeine intake to 300mg, which is about the equivalent to one cup of coffee. Help teenagers understand that a cup of coffee is not equivalent to a Grande Frappuccino. Energy drinks like Red Bull alongside higher caffeine sodas also tend to be popular with teenagers, but should be avoided or limited during pregnancy. Help teenagers make smarter drink choices by substituting with water, or small portions of juice or lemonade.
We are a world that revolves around quick serve and takeout food. According to the New York Times, the average American teenager takes in 16.9 percent of their calories for the week in fast food. If we estimate teens are eating three meals a day for seven days a week, that means 3.5 meals per week would come from fast food options. This does not account for skipping meals, snacks, or unhealthy grab and go packaged foods. According to Livescience.com teens were underestimating the calories in a fast food meal on average by 259 calories. (Adults were underestimating by 175 calories in the same study.)
This all leads to some hard teenage pregnancy facts and that teenagers eat out often. Choose options like stir-fries with plenty of vegetables, submarine sandwiches (opt for a 6 inch, those foot longs can pack a calorie punch), salads and other options with leaner grilled meats. Save the french fries for when that pregnancy craving hits hardest!
What other facts about teenage pregnancy nutrition would you add to this list for new moms?
Image Credit: Michael Stern