What does diet in pregnancy mean? Do you really recommend losing weight to the expecting mother by asking her to follow a “diet”?
The answers to these above-mentioned question is “no”. We often get confused between diet and fasting. The word “Diet” means eating healthy meals on time. Thereby it is very important to maintain a good diet in pregnancy because that is the time when you eat for two. The baby, weighing approximately 3200 grams, is developed from the mother’s blood, bone, and flesh. Inappropriate dietary intake at this phase of life can lead to improper growth and development of the fetus, miscarriage, stillbirth, and can severely damage maternal nutritional status. So If you have conceived, then along with the ground rules of diet during pregnancy like – quit smoking and drinking, daily eat 300-350 Kcal extra, do not lift the weight, cut down on caffeine – you must follow the below-mentioned bullet points to have a healthy delivery!
- Pick Your Food Wisely
Since you are asked to eat 300-350 Kcal extra on a daily basis, you can eat all high-calorie junks – if you think like this, then you need to change your thought. During pregnancy, the diet has to be well balanced and you should get all the extra calories from whole-grain cereal, first-class animal protein, and vegetable fats. Unhealthy junk can lead to weight gain which can make the delivery difficult. On the other hand, the sodium present in outside, processed and preserved food can lead to edema and toxemia – both of which can make your pregnancy a complicated one. So be picky, while planning your plate.
- Folic Acid is Must
The neural tube of the baby, which helps in forming the baby’s brain and spinal cord, is developed in the first month of pregnancy. Folic acid is the main component which helps in the formation of the neural tube. You must start taking folic acid supplements with doctor’s advice as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed. Along with that incorporation of leafy veggies in diet can help you meet the folic acid requirement.
Food Source – Spinach, broccoli, citrus fruit, beans, peas, okra, avocado, lentils, brussels sprout, asparagus.
- Dairy is Necessary
During pregnancy, the mother’s requirement for calcium increases significantly. Calcium leaches out from the mother’s bone and gets transported to the baby’s body via blood in order to develop the baby’s bones. During this phase, if the mother’s diet lacks calcium, after 40, the mother develops the risk of getting osteoporosis – a condition, in which the bone becomes porous and breakage-prone. Depending on the requirement the mother must take around 1000 ml of milk product daily to meet the requirement. Dairy products are the richest source of bioavailable calcium, along with those green leafy veggies and small bony fishes can also be taken.
Foods to be Included – Milk, curd, cottage cheese, milk powder, milkshakes.
- Iron is Important
During pregnancy, all nutrients, antibodies get transferred to the baby’s body through maternal blood. Also during delivery, a considerable amount of blood loss happens. To cope up with all this the expectant mother must fill her diet with bioavailable iron. Taking a lemon/amla with meal provides enough vitamin C which makes the absorption process better. Deficiency of iron can lead to anemia, which is a very common health problem in Indian mothers. Iron supplementation can be taken upon the doctor’s advice.
Foods to be taken – mutton liver, dates, jaggery, sprouts, dark green leafy veggies.
- Fill Diet with Fiber
During pregnancy, the enlarged uterus puts pressure on the lower gut, which makes the evacuation process difficult, leading to constipation. Taking an adequate amount of fiber can ease the condition.
Foods to be taken – Wholegrain Cereals, fresh fruits with skin, fruit smoothies, Vegetables, etc are good sources of fiber and should be included on a daily basis.
- Restrict Sodium
Sodium is a very crucial mineral, which has to be taken with care during pregnancy. Excessive sodium from processed or preserved foods can retain water in the body which can cause edema. Also, it can lead to high blood pressure which could be really fatal during delivery. Extra salt intake on the table should also be restricted.
- Fats: To Take or Not
A high amount of animal fat consumption is not suggested. Cook your meal with vegetable oil. Use a combination of 2-3 oil throughout the period. This will help to get all essential short and medium-chain fatty acids, which are highly needed for the baby’s brain development. Be cautious about the usage of fat. Too much weight gain during pregnancy can lead to troublesome delivery.
- Protein: The Raw Material
Protein is the building block of the body. Hence the expecting mother should take 15 grams extra protein on a daily basis to meet the increased need for it. High-quality animal proteins are always better suggested over plant proteins as they contain all the essential amino acids in perfect proportion and get absorbed readily.
Sources – egg whites, chicken, fish, paneer, cheese, milk, curd, etc are better to be taken over dal, sprouts, and legumes.
- Iodine: The Crucial Element
The thyroid gland uses iodine to produce hormones vital to ensure normal development of the brain and nervous system before birth. The deficiency of iodine can lead to abnormalities in the baby and stillbirth. Take only iodized salt to meet the iodine requirement.
- Say “Yes” to Fish for Omega -3
While talking about this, fish needs a separate mention as they are also a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. Per week a minimum of 300 grams fish should be taken to meet the enhanced need of omega 3 fatty acids. Apart from fish, some seeds like flaxseeds and walnuts are also rich in omega 3 and can be taken.
Per day ensure to drink around 4 liters of water. Keeping yourself hydrated can help the baby to stay well-nourished.
A proper diet plan, with good pregnancy, work out, proper sleep and stress-free lifestyle can definitely help you to experience a smooth delivery and give birth to a healthy baby!
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