What a woman eats and drinks during pregnancy is her baby's main source of nourishment. Here is a guide on what and how a woman should eat during this very important phase of her life.
Pregnancy is the most exciting phase for a woman as she embarks on her journey to motherhood. The ultimate goal for every pregnancy would be ensuring a healthy mother and a healthy baby, which requires intensive care and efforts by the mother, the family members, and health care providers. While the health care providers do their job, the expectant mother should make sure that she eats healthy so that the baby develops and grows well during pregnancy.
How Much to Eat?
A healthy diet during pregnancy contains much of the same balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients as a healthy diet in general, but in higher amounts.
Nutrition and weight gained during pregnancy are directly related to the baby's weight. The ideal weight gain for a mother during pregnancy depends on the pre-pregnancy body mass index or BMI.
The diet during pregnancy should be such that it adequately maintains the maternal health, the needs of the growing fetus, the strength and vitality required during labor and a successful lactation. While an average pregnant woman with a sedentary lifestyle requires 2200 kcal, the pregnant woman's calorie requirement is an additional 300 kcal, and during lactation, it is up to 400 kcal more.
This increase in the calorie requirement is because of the increased growth of maternal tissues, fetus, placenta, and increase in Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). The source of the additional 300 kcal should come from food sources rich in protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Meat, fish, poultry eggs, and dairy products like milk, serve as a major source of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D.
Importance of Folic Acid
Folic acid is majorly found in green leafy vegetables and animal liver. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in the newborn and is an important supplement to be added to the diet.
An important fact to note is that along with the increased calorie requirement, the requirement of minerals like iron, calcium, and vitamins like vitamin D and folic acid is almost double during pregnancy and lactation. It is advisable that supplementary iron, folic acid tablets, and supplementary vitamins should be started by the second trimester, as the dietary sources may often not be enough to meet the daily requirement, especially during later part of pregnancy.
Quality Over Quantity
There is no specified quantity or a special diet recommended in pregnancy. In fact, the pregnancy diet should be the woman's choice as regards the quantity and type. It should be nutritious, easily digestible, and rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins.
As there is a tendency of 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 in turn, will lead to a healthy mother who is ready to embrace a healthy baby into this world.
Last reviewed at:
09 Jan 2019 - 2 min read
MD Community Medicine, MBBS, Post- Graduate Diploma in Epidemiology, Post Graduate Diploma in Health Economics, Health Care Financing and Policy
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