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What to Eat When Pregnant?

Published on Jan 09, 2019 and last reviewed on Jun 22, 2022   -  4 min read

Abstract

A healthy diet is essential for pregnant women for physical strength and fetal development. Read this article to know what to eat when pregnant.

Contents
What to Eat When Pregnant?

Introduction:

A woman experiences various phases in her life and the most exciting one would be when she is about to deliver a child and experience motherhood. The healthy growth of the fetus is one of the most crucial parts of pregnancy. This requires the expectant mother to intake all the essential nutrients for the baby and mother herself to be healthy. While the healthcare providers do their job with routine check-ups and medications, the expectant mother should also make all the effort to eat healthy to support the baby's development during pregnancy. A healthy diet consisting of all the essential nutrients like vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in a balanced amount is suggested to be taken by a pregnant woman.

How Much to Eat While Pregnant?

A healthy diet during pregnancy should contain all the essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals in general, but in large portions.

Nutrition and weight gained during pregnancy are directly proportional to the healthy growth of a baby and the baby attaining a healthy weight. The expectant mother’s ideal weight gain depends on how much she weighed before pregnancy or the pre-pregnancy BMI (body mass index).

The diet included in a pregnant woman’s daily life should contain all the essential nutrients to provide health and strength to the expectant mother and growing fetus. It is also essential for the successful delivery of the child and during lactation. An average woman will require 2200 kcal every day. A woman while pregnant will require an additional 300 kcal and during lactation, an additional 400 kcal.

During pregnancy, a woman will need extra calories because of the fetal and placental development, growth of maternal tissues, and increased basal metabolic rate (BMR). These additional calories are received from sources like fats, proteins, meat, fish, poultry, milk, and egg.

What Types of Foods Can Be Taken While Pregnant?

Proteins -

Proteins are an important nutrient for growth and development. As we all know, pregnancy is a crucial phase of growth and development. Proteins are needed in adequate amounts to fulfill bodily needs during pregnancy. Protein-rich foods contain essential amino acids, which are essential for fetal growth and development.

Some of the protein-rich foods recommended to be taken during pregnancy are lentils, soy, tofu, chicken, fish, nuts, beans, eggs, and seeds.

Carbohydrates -

Carbohydrates (complex) are an essential source of energy, and it is recommended not to avoid them altogether during pregnancy. It is suggested that lowering the intake of carbohydrates like rice and bread will do good.

Also, taking complex carbohydrates like beans, sweet potatoes, legumes, and wheat is recommended.

Fats -

Fats are an essential constituent of a healthy diet and are crucial for pregnancy. Fats are of two types - saturated and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are good for health, whereas saturated fats are found to increase the chances of pregnancy complications.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 are very important to be taken during pregnancy because they are vital in the development of the fetal brain and retina. Salmon fish, walnuts, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and seeds are good dietary sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Fibers -

Hemorrhoids and constipation are a few complications found during pregnancy. In order to avoid it, lots of fiber-containing foods have to be taken since fiber-rich foods help maintain our gut health.

Fiber-containing foods recommended to be taken during pregnancy are apples, broccoli, peas, brown rice, lentils, and chickpeas.

Iron -

Red blood cells (RBC) contain hemoglobin and are essential for carrying oxygen to different parts of the body. Hemoglobin consists of a major part of iron. During the first two weeks of gestation, the number of blood cells increases by an average of 25 %. Thus, iron content is essential to make hemoglobin during pregnancy. In case of decreased iron intake, especially pregnant women can become anemic and have signs of tiredness, weakness, preterm delivery, stillbirth, and lower baby weight. Incorporating a lot of iron-rich foods into the diet is essential during pregnancy.

Iron-rich foods like salmon, poultry, and green vegetables are recommended to be eaten.

Fruits -

Fruits contain almost all the essential nutrients. It is suggested to include at least two cups of fruits in the diet on a daily basis to reap great benefits during pregnancy.

What Is the Importance of Folic Acid During Pregnancy?

Green leafy vegetables and animal liver are the major sources of folic acid. It is vital during pregnancy since it prevents neural tube defects.

In addition to increased calorie requirements during pregnancy and lactation, intake of essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamin D should also be increased, in fact, doubled. Thus, the doctors usually prescribe iron, calcium, and vitamin D supplements to be taken during the second trimester, as the diet cannot be solely relied upon, especially during the third trimester.

Why Is Quality Important Than Quantity?

Diet taken during pregnancy is entirely the expectant mother’s choice, and it cannot or should not be forced on her. There is no set quantity of food to be taken during pregnancy. The only point to be kept in mind is while preparing food; it should be rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins and easily digestible.

As there is a tendency for constipation during pregnancy which is associated with abdominal discomfort, it can be easily avoided by including fluids, vegetables, and milk in the diet.

A healthy diet will lead to a healthy pregnancy, which will lead to a healthy mother ready to embrace a healthy baby into this world.

Conclusion:

Pregnancy is a crucial phase for the mother, child, and everyone around. Since the body needs more energy during pregnancy, a healthy diet is a must, and there are no chances to skip it. Including a lot of fruits, vegetables, fibers, proteins, etc., will help nourish the growing fetus. At the same time, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, raw meats, shellfish, and raw eggs is advised. Consulting a registered dietician will help formulate a customized diet for every individual’s needs.

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Last reviewed at:
22 Jun 2022  -  4 min read

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