Nutrition During Pregnancy

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Introduction

The pregnancy period is very crucial and important in a woman’s life. Women tend to experience changes physically and mentally. The transition from a girl to a woman happens during the pregnancy period.

Uncomplicated pregnancies can also have certain emotional and physical changes. Nutrition plays a crucial role in these physical and emotional changes.

Nutrition during pregnancy plays a crucial role as it determines the overall health of the child. When the mother does not consume foods rich in nutrients, that can affect the child’s nutrition. Pregnancy nutrition is important as it can affect both the mother and the child.

Why is nutrition important during pregnancy?

Nutrition plays a crucial role during the pregnancy period. The foods pregnant women choose can determine the health of the child.

Suppose a mother consumes a lot of foods that are rich in fried and fatty foods. There are chances of the mother getting affected with gestational diabetes.

When a mother is affected with gestational diabetes, there is a chance of the baby developing type 1 Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes. Another risk of gestational diabetes is the mother can develop type 2 Diabetes later in life.

So, the foods that women eat during their pregnancy are more important than they did before getting conceived.

Another major issue is the baby being overweight or underweight. If the mother consumes food with proper nutrition, the baby will develop a healthy body weight, and the complications can be reduced during the pregnancy.

If the mother does not consume nutrient-rich foods, the baby can become underweight, and there can be unwanted complications during the pregnancy. To avoid such complications, nutrition during pregnancy plays a major role.

Weight changes in pregnancy

Weight gain is common during pregnancy. This weight gain is commonly due to the baby’s weight. The weight during pregnancy is broken down and given.

Baby weight3.5 kilograms
Placenta weight1-1.5 kilograms
Amniotic fluid weight1-1.5 kilograms
Breast tissue weight1-1.5 kilograms
Blood supply weight2 kilograms
Uterus growth1-2.5 kilograms
Fat stores2.5-4 kilograms

Some women gain weight automatically when they get conceived, and some women can maybe overweight before getting pregnant. So, the body weight of women ranges according to their physique and their hereditary factors.

Nutrition needs during pregnancy

Nutrition requirements may increase when a woman is pregnant. Before getting pregnant, the nutritional requirements for women can be different. During the pregnancy period, a woman requires 300 more calories to satisfy the nutritional requirements.

These calories should be obtained from nutritional foods and not from any other food sources. Pregnant women should make sure they consume a balanced diet.

Foods like legumes, sweet potato, broccoli, dark and leafy vegetables, lean meat, berries, whole grains and of course, water to keep you hydrated and the baby to be happy.

These foods can supply the essential nutrients and the extra calories required for the day. Some of the key nutrients that a woman requires during the pregnancy period are discussed below.

Key Nutrients

The baby inside the womb will get the essential nutrients only through the mother. So, these nutrients should be included in the diet.

Folic acid

Folic acid is required for the proper growth and development of the baby during the initial stages of the pregnancy. Folic acid is a type of B vitamin, and consuming foods rich in folic acid can help reduce birth defects and problems related to the spinal cord.

Foods rich in folic acid are dark leafy vegetables, peas, lentils, broccoli, kidney beans and other fortified cereals can be consumed during the pregnancy period.

Protein

Proteins are the building blocks of the body. Taking protein through the pregnancy period is required for the well-being of the baby and the mother.

Foods like eggs, nuts, soy, wheat, milk, peanuts and cottage cheese can be consumed during pregnancy.

Calcium

Calcium is required for the development of a baby’s bones and teeth. Calcium regulates the circulatory, nervous and muscular systems.

Dairy products like milk and curd can be absorbed easily by the body. Other foods like cereal, salmon, spinach, cheese and yoghurt are also rich in calcium.

Iron

Iron is required for the body to make haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is required for healthy red blood cells of the body. These red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body.

If there is a deficiency in iron content, it can lead to a low haemoglobin count. It can lead to anaemia and other complications.

Foods like beans, spinach, legumes, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and red meat are rich in iron. However, before consuming red meat, consult your doctor and then include them in your diet.

Vitamin C

Vitamin is required for the body to carry out various functions. Vitamin C regulates the immune system of the body, and during the initial stages of pregnancy, vitamin C is required to make the baby’s skin, tendons and bones.

Vitamin C is also required to repair the damaged tissue, wound healing and bone growth. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant that protects the cells from oxidative stress.

Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Other foods like oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, spinach and baked potatoes are rich in vitamin C and can be consumed during pregnancy.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D regulates the calcium and phosphate in the body. These vitamins help in the development of teeth and bones of the baby.

Also, exposure to early morning sun can help the body to synthesise the required vitamin D. Foods like eggs, oily fish, breakfast cereals and red meat are rich in vitamin D.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for the baby to develop a healthy brain and spinal cord. Vitamin B12 is also required for making DNA and healthy red blood cells.

Foods like clam, sardines, fortified cereal, eggs, spirulina, chlorella and mushrooms are rich in vitamin B12.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is required for the development of the brain and nervous system. It helps the baby to metabolise carbohydrates and proteins.

Foods like fortified cereals, chickpeas, poultry, salmon, potatoes, starchy vegetables, prunes, bananas, durian and jack fruit are rich in vitamin B6.

Vitamin A

Foods like eggs, oily fish, eggs, milk and fortified cereals are rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A is required for the development of a healthy baby. So, vitamin A plays a crucial role during pregnancy, and pregnant women should take an adequate amount of vitamin A.

Also, make sure you do not overdose on the vitamin as it can lead to adverse effects. Vitamin A plays a major role in the ocular function and development of the baby.

Foods to eat

There are certain limitations when it comes to food, especially during your pregnancy period. Some foods should be totally avoided, whereas others can be consumed in good quantity.

Foods that can be consumed during pregnancy are

  • Legumes,
  • Sweet potato,
  • Eggs,
  • Broccoli,
  • Berries,
  • Lean meat,
  • Whole grain and
  • Avocados.

Foods to limit

You can limit the intake of certain food during pregnancy.

  • Undercooked or raw fish,
  • Raw eggs,
  • Too much caffeine,
  • Organ meat,
  • Raw sprouts,
  • Unpasteurised dairy products and
  • Strictly alcohol should be avoided.

Conclusion

Pregnancy is a crucial period, and women should be watchful with the foods they eat. Some foods can help the baby to grow, and some foods can deteriorate the growth of the baby.

Junk foods and alcohol should be totally avoided during pregnancy. It can have negative effects on the baby.

FAQ

What are the nutritional needs of a pregnant woman?

The nutritional needs of pregnant women can increase during the period. Pregnant women may require 300 extra calories a day.

What are 3 of the most important nutrients during pregnancy?

1. Iron,
2. Folic acid,
3. Calcium,
4. Vitamin D,
5. Vitamin A and
6. DHA.

 Which fruit is good for pregnancy?

Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and bananas can be consumed during pregnancy.

How does poor nutrition affect pregnancy?

Poor nutrition can affect both the baby and the mother. It can have negative effects like anaemia, pre-eclampsia and haemorrhage.

What foods should pregnant women avoid

Organ meat, junk food and alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy.


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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