Nutrition During Pregnancy

One of the most important determinants of the baby’s health and development, is the mother’s diet. Regulation and attention to the diet should begin before pregnancy. It is essential that you be at an optimal weight – neither under nor over weight – before you become pregnant. You should also have no Vitamin or mineral deficiencies prior to pregnancy.

Once pregnant you need to eat a well balanced diet.

  • Have a lot of
  • cereals and legumes
  • Nuts, dried fruits
  • Spinach and other leafy vegetables
  • Milk and dairy products
  • fruits and fruit juices.
  • Use healthy cooking oils like sunflower oil.
  • Ask your doctor about iron, calcium, Vitamin B+D+ Zinc supplements.

If you are a vegetarian eat much more of the above. If you are a non-vegetarian include regular sources of egg, chicken or meat in your diet. Stay away from seafood – it could cause botulism.

If you are unable to take in milk try having milk in other forms like paneer, curd, custard, shrikhand, fruit yoghurt.

Try to incorporate Soya into your regular diet. Soya is a rich source of iron and also has a high protein value. Soya is available in a lot of forms – soya milk, nutri-nuggets, tofu, soya rawa, soya flour, etc. These are easily available at health stores. Otherwise the simplest way incorporate soya into your diet is to grind nutri-nuggets into a powder and mix it into the wheat flour so whenever you eat chappatis or paranthas you are automatically taking in soya.

Eat sprouted dal raw. On cooking they tend to lose some of their nutritive value. You can have them in salads or can add them to raita (beaten curd).

Concentrate on getting enough:

Nutrient Source Why?
Folic Acid Green leafy vegetables citrus fruits and legumes Important in the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Most needed in the 1st three months.
Calcium Milk and milk products and if necessary supplement Essential for development of the baby’s bones. For preventing tooth decay and osteoporosis in you. Most needed in the last three months.
Iron Green leafy vegetable, beans, red meat, cereals and fortified breakfast cereals. Also supplements. Essential for both baby and mother for proper development of red blood cells.
Fiber Whole wheat, beans, fruits, raw vegetables, dry fruits. Prevents constipation, a very major problem during pregnancy.
Protein Pulses, beans, tops, chicken, fish, meat eggs Essential for the growth of the baby.
Fluids 6 – 8 glasses of water, juice Needed to feed the increased blood volume and for the amniotic fluid that protects the baby. Too little fluid can tax your kidneys.

Lack of fluids can induce early labour miscarriages, constipation and electrolyte imbalances.

Food Facts

  • The leaves of fenugreek help in blood formation.
  • Lettuce contains a considerable amount of iron and the body easily absorbs the iron in it.
  • Spinach is a valuable source of high-grade iron.
  • Soyabean is rich in iron and also has a high protein value.
  • Beetroot has a high iron content
  • Almond is a good source of copper, which along with iron and vitamins, acts as a catalyst in the synthesis of aemoglobin.
  • Black sesame seeds are a rich source of iron.
  • Honey contains iron, copper, and manganese and therefore is good for building haemoglobin.
  • Refined foods like white bread, polished rice, sugar and desserts rob the body the body of its much-needed iron.
  • Sprouted seeds and beans are rich in minerals and vitamins.
  • Sunlight stimulates the production of red blood cells.
  • Green leafy vegetables, oranges, potatoes and lentils are rich in potassium.
  • Milk and milk products, green vegetables, sesame seeds, almonds, oats and walnuts are rich sources of calcium.

Foods to avoid

  • Canned food – can cause food poisoning
  • Fish in general, especially fresh water fis
  • Coffee and tea
  • Alcohol
  • Greasy or heavily spiced foods.
  • Junk food with lots of calories and too few nutrients.
  • Cut down on salt as this can cause water retention and high BP complications especially in the last trimester.

If you suffer from morning sickness: –

  • Eat small amounts more frequently.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Try nibbling on dry biscuits or toast early in the morning or when you feel sick.
  • Find foods that suit you and a time for eating that suits you and slick to it.
  • Eat light foods that are digested fast.

Exercise regularly.

Related Links

Weight Gain
Exercise during Pregnancy

Looking after yourself
Food facts

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