Pregnancy and entering motherhood are the most beautiful journey a mother experiences. Ensuring optimal nutrition during pregnancy is one of the best gifts a mother can give to her child, there is no magic formula for a healthy pregnancy diet. Here are few Do’s and Don’ts which can help you maintain good nutrition.
Load up the important ‘’5 Nutrients”
- a. Folic Acid- Before conception and in the first six weeks of pregnancy, no nutrient is more vital than folate/ folic acid. This miracle B vitamin can reduce the risk of Neural tube defects such as spina bifida. You can get your daily requirement of Folic acid from beans and legumes, poultry, fish and shellfish.
- Dietary supplement fact sheet: Folate. National Institutes of Health.
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- b. Calcium– Calcium is necessary for the formation of Baby’s bone and teeth development in the second and third trimester. Also, mother’s body stores extra calcium for the lactation phase. Grab your daily dose of calcium from milk and milk products like Paneer (cottage cheese), curds, green leafy vegetables, Sesame seeds, whole grains and eggs.
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- c. Iron- During pregnancy, the requirement of iron increases since the body needs this iron to supply oxygen to the fetus. Severe deficiency of iron (low haemoglobin) increases the risk of premature or low birth weight babies or postpartum depressions in mothers.
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- Load your haemoglobin with lots of green leafy vegetables. Have coriander or mint chutneys with all the meals. Pulses especially soybean, Moong, kidney beans, roasted Bengal gram, black beans are the rich source of iron. Nuts, dried fruits and jaggery add great taste and iron to the diet. Making use of iron utensils makes the food rich source of iron. The addition of lemon or amla in the food “increases the iron absorption” in the body.
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- d. Protein– Optimal protein intake is not only essential to build a baby’s body, but also to look after the wear and tear and maintenance of the mother’s body. A typical Indian diet rich in milk, milk products, pulses, legumes and nuts can meet the protein requirement of the mother. Intake of eggs, meats also help meeting the protein requirement.
- e. Zinc– The zinc requirement increases by 20% during pregnancy. A fetus needs zinc for cell growth and production and function of DNA. Getting enough zinc is especially important during pregnancy because there is much rapid cell growth. The essential mineral also supports your immune system and maintains good gut health. Nuts, whole grains, legumes, and seafood are rich sources of zinc.
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Choose locally grown seasonal foods and not processed packaged foods
When a woman is pregnant, what she eats or drinks influences her child’s health, possibly forever. Whole foods and grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed and lightly processed foods should form the basis of the would-be-mothers diet. Eating fresh foods allow the mother’s gut to absorb better nutrients and maintain her immunity. Processed foods are also high in unhealthy fat, high in sodium with very little nutritional value.
Focus on Omega 3 rich foods
A diet rich in omega 3 can boost baby’s brain and neurological development before birth. Omega 3 allows the fetus to have better skin, vision and memory. Omega 3 also reduces the risk of developing postpartum depression in moms. Omega 3 also helps mothers maintain their health and wellbeing. Good sources of omega 3 in diet can be Walnuts, roasted flaxseeds, chia seeds, certain pulses like kidney beans, black urad, soybean.
Staying healthy and safe. The National Women’s Health Information Center. (Accessed Dec. 13, 2016)
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Do not eat for “two” or “three”
A lot of women tend to gain weight due to excessive intake of calories during pregnancy. It is very crucial to gain weight in a proper manner. Too much weight gain invites more complications in pregnancy and overweight or obese mothers give birth to overweight children. Eat healthy and nutritious food to nourish you and your fetus.
Source- Pregnancy- the complete childbirth book; NutanPandit; Rupa Publications 2014
Don’t overdo on refined carbohydrates
Refined carbs like white bread, products made up of “maida”, white rice, table sugar, sweets, cold drinks, sharbats, candies rush into your bloodstream and raise your blood sugar levels. This peak in blood sugar allows the fetus to deposit more fat in his body. Also, a fetus has to produce more insulin in the womb and thus in future, he is at more risk of developing insulin resistance or obesity.
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Don’t forget to drink at least 10-12 glasses of water.
Maintaining good hydration is very important for a successful pregnancy. This will prevent mothers from developing common problems like constipation, nausea, haemorrhoids and acidity. Apart from water, maintain your good fluid intake by taking coconut water, buttermilk, lemon water, vegetable juices, soups etc.
Source- Handbook of Nutrition and Pregnancy (2008); keefi et al. Humana press
Disclaimer – This article consists of guidelines and is not a substitute for medical advice, Please consult your HCP before consuming.