A woman's blood volume increases dramatically to help nourish the baby and keep her own body healthy. It is critically important to add iron-rich foods and iron supplements to facilitate an increase in the production of red blood cells.
Because iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of zinc, zinc supplements are also commonly recommended. Leavened whole-grain products, liver, eggs, red meat, and seafood are all good sources of zinc.
Much of the calcium needed for a developing baby can be drawn from the mother's body, but pregnant women should be sure to replace calcium through supplements to ensure that they do not experience bone loss. A diet balanced with milk, yogurt, and cheese can help keep mother and baby healthier throughout the pregnancy and early months.
Folic acid plays a crucial role in the proper development of a baby's nervous system. Folic acid supplements are normally recommended even before pregnancy occurs to ensure that there is plenty available during early embryonic development. In addition to supplements, folic acid can be found in red meat, liver, egg yolks, and green leafy vegetables.
Breast milk is extraordinarily concentrated with nutrients, and since all the nutrients come from the mother, she must restore them regularly to avoid developing deficiencies. It is particularly important to continue to supplement calcium, iron, folic acid, and all the vitamins recommended during pregnancy. Magnesium and vitamin B6 are crucial during breastfeeding. It is also important to include protein in the diet and remain very well hydrated.