During pregnancy, the mother’s diet is the main source of nourishment for baby. Nutrients from the mother’s blood are the building blocks for baby’s organ systems, muscles, brain, and skeleton that are forming.
But when you are battling morning sickness, eating a healthy diet may not always be easy. A well balanced diet is necessary for your baby’s growth, proper brain development, reduced risk of birth defects and a strong immune system. Since it’s not how much but what you eat that makes the difference, here’s how a healthy pregnancy diet can help:
|Nutrient||Needed for||Best sources|
|Protein||Cell Growth & Blood Production||Beans, Tofu, lean Meat, Fish, Poultry, Egg Whites etc.|
|Calcium||Strong Bones & Teeth, Muscle Contraction, Nerve Function||Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Spinach and certain types of Fish|
|Iron||Red Blood Cell Production (needed to prevent anemia)||Whole-wheat grain breads and cereals, Spinach, lean Red Meat|
|Carbohydrates||Daily Energy||Rice, Vegetables, Fruits, Potatoes, Pasta, Breads & Cereals|
|Vitamin A||Good Eyesight, Bone Growth & Healthy Skin||Carrots, Dark Leafy Greens, Sweet Potatoes|
|Vitamin C||Healthy Gums, Teeth & Bones, helps in Iron Absorption||Citrus Fruit, Broccoli, Tomatoes & Fortified Fruit Juices|
|Vitamin B6||Red Blood Cell formation, effective use of protein, fat, and carbohydrates||Whole-grain cereals, Bananas, Pork & Ham|
|Vitamin B12||Formation of Red Blood Cells and healthy nervous system||Milk, Poultry, Meat & Fish
(Note: Vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products need supplemental B12)
|Vitamin D||Absorption of Calcium, Healthy Bones & Teeth||Fortified Milk, Dairy Products, Cereals and Bread|
|Folic Acid||Production of Blood & Protein, Effective Enzyme Function||Green Leafy Vegetables, Dark Yellow Fruits & Vegetables, Beans, Peas & Nuts|
|Fat||Energy Storage||Meat, Whole-Milk Dairy Products, Nuts, Peanut Butter, Margarine, Vegetable Oils. Note: Fat intake should be limited to 30% or less of your total calorie intake.|
Thus the key to a healthy pregnancy diet is to eat a variety of nutritious foods to keep you and your baby healthy. If you are a vegetarian, do discuss your diet with your doctor. As you may not be able to get all the nutrition you need if you do not eat fish, chicken or eggs, your Doctor may recommend protein, Vitamin B12 and D supplements.
What To Avoid During Pregnancy
Food cravings are very common during the first trimester. Though it is unclear why women crave a particular food, it is not harmful to indulge in your cravings – as long as they contribute to a healthy diet. But certain food and beverages are a strict ‘no’ during pregnancy.
Alcohol – Avoid alcohol totally, as no level of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy.
Herbal Medicines & Supplements – These could contain ingredients that can be harmful to the developing fetus – so check with your Doctor.
Caffeine – Though one or two cups of coffee, tea or soda per day won’t harm your baby, it is wise to limit your intake as high caffeine consumption has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.
Soft, unpasteurized “fresh” Cheese and raw or undercooked meat – As these could lead to food-borne illnesses like listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which can be life-threatening for the unborn baby.
Fish, high in Mercury (shark, swordfish, king mackeral, tilefish etc.) – Fish is an extremely healthy part of your pregnancy diet as it contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and is high in protein and low in saturated fats. Almost all fish and shellfish contain small amounts of mercury, but you can safely eat those with consistently low mercury levels (like salmon, shrimp, tilapia etc.). But certain types of fish contain high levels of mercury, which can cause damage to the developing nervous system of a fetus. Discuss with your Doctor if you have any doubts about which fish you can eat.
Castor Oil – A common old wives remedy, it interferes with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
And on the whole, eating a variety of nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water will ensure that you have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Tips & Tricks
If you water bag breaks, stay calm and call your gynaec. Wear a sanitary pad to protect your clothes and on the way to the hospital, use a plastic sheet to prevent the car seat from getting soiled.
Before buying a home pregnancy test kit, be sure to check the expiry date. For accurate results, take the test after one week after the missed period; testing very early, can give you negative results.
Dry fruits are a rich source of iron and contain high dietary fibre. They also meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy