During pregnancy, a woman’s macronutrient (energy) and micronutrient (e.g. vitamins, mineral) requirements increase, and it is even more important that she consumes food which will give her both the energy and the specific micronutrients which are essential for maintaining her and her growing baby’s health.
While nutritional supplements can provide large quantities of particular micronutrients, a healthy balanced diet should form the basis of a woman’s nutritional intake. Good nutrition is most important immediately prior to conception and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy
Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy helps to protect both the pregnant mother and ongoing development of the baby depends on the health of the embryo from which it is formed.
Here is a look at the food groups and some suggested sources for creating a healthy diet during pregnancy.
Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables contain many important nutrients for pregnancy especially, Vitamin C and Folic Acid. Pregnant women need at least 70 mg of Vitamin C daily, which is contained in fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and honeydew, and vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, and brussel sprouts.
Breads and Grains: The body’s main source of energy for pregnancy comes from the essential carbohydrates found in breads and grains. Whole grain and enriched products provide important nutrients such as iron, B Vitamins, fiber and some protein, even. You can get the required amount of folic acid from fortified bread and cereal.
Calcium: Calcium is essential for building strong teeth and bones, normal blood clotting, and muscle and nerve function. Since your developing baby requires a considerable amount of calcium, your body will take calcium from your bones, if you do not consume enough through your diet (which can lead to future problems, such as osteoporosis). Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, cream soups and puddings. Some calcium is also found in green vegetables, seafood, beans and dried peas. You should consume at least 4 servings of dairy products daily.
Iron: During pregnancy, a woman’s body needs more iron than usual to produce all the blood needed to supply nutrition to the placenta. Good sources of iron are green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, strawberries, muesli and whole meal bread.
Milk and dairy products: skimmed milk, yogurt/curd, buttermilk (chhaach), cottage cheese (paneer). These foods are high in calcium, protein and Vitamin B-12.
Iodine: It is critical for the development and functioning of the thyroid gland and regulation of metabolism. The RDA for pregnant women is 200 mcg per day. You can get iodine from fluoridated drinking water, iodized (table) salt, eggs, milk, and brewer’s yeast.
Starchy carbohydrate-rich foods: Starchy carbohydrate-rich foods include potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread.
Fats: The role of DHA and other essential fatty acids in the development of the fetal brain is now clear. These are essential for ideal development of intelligence, learning and vision. Add flax seeds, walnuts, beans and tofu to your diet. Olive oil and soyabean oil are also good sources of essential fatty acids. Non-vegetarians can benefit from fish intake or cod liver oil capsules. Saturated fats such as ghee, butter, cheese and hydrogenated fats should be consumed in limited quantities.
Zinc: The RDA of zinc for pregnant women is 20 mg per day and 25 mg for nursing women. Oysters, beef, and liver are good sources of zinc. It is a good idea to make sure your prenatal vitamin contains enough zinc to prevent problems if you do not eat these foods. Smaller amounts of zinc (4 to 6 mg) are contained in fish, wheat germ, and miso.
There are a number of benefits for both you and your baby to eating healthy during pregnancy. Here are just a few of them:
Reduces Pregnancy Complications: Women are vulnerable to a number of complications during pregnancy, including high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Eating well can keep blood pressure, blood sugar levels and weight at healthy levels to reduce the incidence of such complications.
Reduces Incidence of Birth Defects: Exposure to certain chemicals or a deficit in certain nutrients can lead to birth defects in your baby. For example, artificial sweeteners like aspartame have been linked to a higher incidence of birth defects such as neurological impairments and development delays. Also, the lack of key nutrients such as folic acid has been linked to higher rates of birth defects such as spina bifida.
Ensures a Healthy Weight for Your Baby: Babies with a low birth weight suffer more health problems and potentially serious complications than babies born at a healthy weight. A low birth weight can set babies up for a lifetime of health complications or disabilities.
Sets the Stage for Good Health: What you eat while you’re pregnant can influence your baby’s development and what he or she eats later in life. If you eat poorly, not only will your baby develop a taste for foods that are low in nutrition, but he or she will also have a greater risk for developing obesity and serious diseases like diabetes.
Helps Lose Weight Faster: Most women are keen to lose their extra pregnancy weight as quickly as possible. Eating nutritiously throughout your pregnancy not only makes it more likely that you will gain a healthy amount of weight, but also makes it easier for you to shed that weight after pregnancy.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy
- Contaminated foods
- Nitrate-Rich Foods
- Green-Light Foods
- Soft Cheeses
- Cooked Deli Meats
Consult the best Gynaecologist and Healthcare provider like Dr. Sarah Hussain, to know more in details about which supplement is best for you during pregnancy.