Before and during pregnancy, adequate nutrition has greater potential fir a long term health impact than it does at any other time. Diet before conception should be well nutritionally rich in order to begin pregnancy with reserves of several nutrients so that the needs of the growing foetus can be met without affecting mother's health.
Much extensive modifications in the diet is not required for the woman whose diet is adequate before pregnancy and usually she is able to bear a full term viable infant.
Role of placentaThe Placenta is the principal site of production for several hormones responsible for regulation of fetal growth and development of maternal support tissues.
To consume a healthy diet during pregnancy is crucial to your baby's growth and development. You must eat variety of food groups including cereals and pulses, fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, nuts and seeds, dairy products etc in order to get the adequate nutrition. A pregnant lady needs additional of 300 calories per day. This increased energy is required for the growth and development of the foetus and for the normal increase in material body size.
A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein for meeting her increased nutritional requirements.
It is also known as folate. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps in preventing birth defects in the baby's brain and spinal cord which is also known as neural tube defects. Sources are leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, whole grain cereals, breads and pastas, beans, citrus fruits.
Calcium is needed to build a baby's bones and teeth. Now a days, many dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, that helps in calcium absorption and this nutrient works with calcium to develop baby's bones and teeth. Sources are milk, yogurt, cheese, paneer, calcium-fortified juices and foods, salmon with bones, some leafy greens (colocasia, amaranth, drumstick etc.)
A Pregnant women needs 27 milligrams of iron a day. Iron is needed to make more blood to supply with oxygen to the baby. iron deficiency during pregnancy can lead to anaemia. Include a good source of vitamin C, at the same meal when eating iron-rich foods, to increase the absorption of iron. Sources are meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereal.
Protein helps in building important organs for the baby, such as the brain and heart. Sources are meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, pulses, eggs, nuts, tofu.
Food groupsIt is recommended that a mother-to-be's diet should include a variety of healthy foods and beverages to provide the important nutrients a baby needs for growth and development.
Cereals, grains and breads
Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for a pregnant woman. Iron, B complex vitamins, fibre, other nutrients and some protein are provided by whole grains and enriched products. Fortified bread and cereals have required amount of folic acid needed by pregnant woman.
Daily requirements of cereal group is 6-11 servings for a pregnant woman. It depends on your weight , activity level you belong to and dietary needs.
Sources are wheat porridge, oats, ragi, barley, broken wheat, buckwheat, millets, oatmeal etc.
Pulses, Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and beans
All these contain the protein, B vitamins, iron, selenium and zinc needed in pregnancy. The requirement of protein is very high especially in second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Increased protein is needed for growing tissue demands and organ development of your baby.
Daily requirement of proteins for an adult women is 1 gm/kg body weight, where in during pregnancy, additional protein 15 gm/day is required . Sources are pulses, meat, chicken, eggs, legumes, paneer etc.
Fortified dairy products are a great source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, healthy fats and folic acid. Increased requirement of calcium is essential for building strong teeth and bones, normal blood clotting, and muscle and nerve function.
Daily requirement of calcium for a pregnant woman is 1200 mg/day.
Sources are Milk, cheese, yogurt, paneer, cream etc. Leafy greens are also rich source of calcium.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the richest source of vitamins A & C, minerals and antioxidants. As this food group contains lot of fibre therefore it is helpful in preventing constipation during pregnancy. Also, fruits and vegetables are good for proper bowel movement of mother-to-be's as it suppresses bloating. It is not difficult to consume 3-4 servings of this group in your daily diet in the form of fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit salad , vegetable soup or in cooked dessert form post meal.
Sources are oranges, grapefruit, melons, berries, carrot, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, potatoes, drumstick, cabbage etc.
Nuts and seeds
Consumption of nuts and seeds in daily diet are helpful in aiding digestion. Best way to boost iron intake during pregnancy is to have handful of nuts with a glass of orange juice. Walnuts are richest source of omega 3 fats , which supports brain development of your baby.
Sources are sunflower seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, cashews, groundnuts, fox nuts (makhana) etc.
- Small and frequent meals should be taken.
- Plenty of water should be taken.
- More fibre should be included in the diet prevent constipation.
- Iron rich foods should be taken to prevent anaemia.
- Diet should be rich in calcium.
- Include green leafy vegetables to get minerals like calcium and iron.
- Sufficient amount of calories should be taken so that enough fat is deposited.
Sample Daily Menu for Pregnant Woman
Here's given a sample detailed days diet menu. It will help you in knowing what a pregnant woman should consume during pregnancy.
Early morning (7 am): 1 glass milk + 4-5 almonds + 2 dates
Breakfast (9 am): stuffed paratha with curd or vegetable daliya/oats with curd or egg omelette with paratha -2
Mid morning (11 am): seasonal fruit or fruit juice or vegetable soup or coconut water
Lunch (1-2 pm): dal + rice + roti + seasonal vegetable/ paneer/ soybeans + curd + salad
Snack (4 pm): tea-1 cup + toast or roasted grams or puffed rice (laiya)
Evening (6 pm): buttermilk or lime water or dry fruit chikki or gazak
Dinner (8:30 pm): dal + rice + roti + seasonal vegetable + salad
Bed time (10 pm): 1 glass milk + 2 dates or 2 fig.
During pregnancy, it becomes even more important to eat healthy to reduce incidence of diseases. Consumption of nutritious diet makes you ensure that your baby is growing properly. This general diet plan is for reference purpose which will help you in healthy pregnancy , if all food groups suit you and you are not allergic to any particular food. In case, if you want a personalised diet chart as per your requirements, please let us know.