Having a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet during pregnancy is extremely important not only for the health of the mother but also for the baby. The calorie requirements of a pregnant woman increase by 300 to 500 calories during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Diet having lack of certain important nutrients can affect the growth of the baby adversely. A healthy diet during pregnancy helps in keeping the pregnant woman healthy, adequate growth of the baby, uneventful delivery and an effective and healthy weight loss post-delivery.
Pregnant females require approximately 1 gram of calcium per day which may be obtained from various dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt, tofu etc. Increasing daily intake of calcium is important for healthy bones of the baby. Yogurt along with probiotics is beneficial as it can also be had by women who have milk intolerance.
Legumes like chickpeas, nuts, pulses are rich in proteins, fibres and folate or folic acid or vitamin B12. Folate is extremely important for the foetus especially in the first trimester. Deficiency of folate leads to neural tube defect among children, hence including it in diet is extremely important for expectant mothers. Taking folates in the form of legumes and other dietary supplements might not be enough. Extra vitamin supplements may be required to complete the daily recommended dosage. For women planning to get pregnant, the international guidelines suggest addition of 400 micrograms of folate to their diet in the form of vitamin supplements prior to pregnancy, and 600 micrograms daily during pregnancy. In addition to legumes, folate can be obtained from citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables. Legumes also provide rich amount of micronutrients and fibre. They help in development of the baby and improve the digestive system of expecting mother.
Iron is another important micronutrient required by the women during pregnancy. The daily requirement of iron for a pregnant woman is almost double and that at the non-pregnant stage. For adequate absorption of iron by the body addition of vitamin C is important in the diet. Thus, it is advisable that pregnant females should take fruits rich in vitamin C along with iron supplements. A pregnant female can take a morning breakfast consisting of a citrus fruit juice and iron rich cereal.
Protein is yet another important nutrient required by the pregnant women for the growth of the baby’s brain and heart. Addition of eggs, meat, certain fishes, pulses and other poultry items help in fulfilling the daily requirement of protein.
Have at least three to four dairy servings in a day. Try to add as more colors as possible to your plate in the form of vegetables and fruits like broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, kale etc. Reduce intake of caffeine as much as possible. Quit alcohol and smoking as it has gross impact on the growth and development of the baby.
Fish is indeed a great source of protein and other micronutrients and is needed by the body during pregnancy, but it is better to avoid some varieties of fish as they are rich in mercury like white tuna, king mackerel, swordfish and shark. Mercury can lead to birth defects in the baby. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products and raw meats as they may be rich in certain bacteria which can lead to severe abdominal infections.
It is equally important to debunk some common myths related to eating during pregnancy. Some women are under the impression that avoiding eating during pregnancy can reduce morning sickness. This is a myth believed by many, on the contrary, taking a dry toast right in the morning even before getting out of the bed can reduce the chances of morning sickness.
Cravings and aversions to certain food items are common in pregnancy. Cravings are often the body’s way of saying that it is lacking in certain types of nutrients. It is perfectly okay to indulge moderately, however, do not overdo it.
Eating for two during pregnancy is a common misbelieve. A pregnant woman does not need to eat twice as much. The calorie requirement by the body during pregnancy increases gradually over the period. In the first trimester, a pregnant woman needs almost the same amount of calories as she would have had in a non-pregnant stage. The maximum calorie requirement reaches to its peak in the third trimester, up to 500 calories only. Weight gain of 10- 15 kgs is considered to be ideal, according to the pre pregnancy BMI, the amount of ideal weight gain may vary slightly.
Consult obstetrician experts at the CK Birla Hospital, top maternity hospital in Gurgaon to know more on what is an ideal diet during pregnancy. Book an appointment today with one of our experts.