Every pregnancy is different and every woman needs proper nutrition and a healthy diet for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. As your baby is what you eat. Therefore, it is very important to eat healthily and your nutritional needs should be fulfilled.
When you are pregnant your growing baby is connected with the placenta (this is attached through the mother’s uterine wall to the baby’s umbilical cord. This make a connection between mom and baby and provide essential nutrient and nourishment to the baby). It means placenta transfer the best nutrients directly into your baby’s body.
Placenta is also a direct connection to pass alcohol, drugs, medication and toxins directly into fetal blood circulation. which can affect baby growth and development and can influence baby’s genetic expressions. So you need to understand the importance of diet and nutrition during pregnancy.
Proper nutrition during pregnancy is the great contribution to your growing baby but it cannot guarantee a good pregnancy outcome. A women’s nutritional status has a great compact on fetal growth. If you are taking a poor diet which means not taking enough iron. This can lead to the poor mental development of baby or birth anomalies.
When you are pregnant usually you feel highly motivated to adopt a healthy routine for your baby’s health. In regards to a major life change, still, you need support and encouragement. Eating a diet different from another, getting up 10 minutes earlier to prepare your breakfast rather than going to work with only a cup of coffee, or cutting off with a drink in dinner and drinking only milk or juice. It seriously needs care.
Things you must include into your daily routine during pregnancy:
- A balanced diet
- Daily exercise
- Daily meditation and yoga
- Adequate weight gain
- Vitamins and minerals supplementation
Your body goes through numerous physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. You must eat a healthful, balanced diet to help ensure you stay healthy throughout your pregnancy. The food you eat is your baby’s main source of nourishment. So it’s critical to consume foods that are rich in nutrients. Proper nutrition can help promote your baby’s growth and development.
Why nutrition is important?
The relationship between the mother’s nutrition and baby health is important. During pregnancy, you must eat properly to supply enough nutrients to the growing baby. For example, proper intake of protein prevents the complication of pregnancy-induced hypertension or premature birth of baby. Thus pregnancy vitamins are important to prevent birth anomalies.
By following these easy nutrition guidelines, you can be on your way to a healthy pregnancy. Your body needs for nutrition increased during pregnancy. You do need more micronutrients and macronutrients to support you and your baby, which is necessary.
Micronutrients are dietary components, such as minerals and vitamins that are only needed in small amounts. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide energy, or calories for example carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. For a healthy pregnancy, you may need approximately 300 extra calories per day. You can cut down to sweets and fats and include fruits, vegetables and protein and whole grains into your diet. A proper nutrition can ease some pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
Your daily requirement of nutrients during pregnancy
- Whole Grains are a good source of energy and help you to ease tiredness.
- Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants.
- Meats, dry fruits and nuts, and legumes provide you protein, folate, and iron.
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are a great source of vitamin D and calcium.
What and how much to eat and what is the daily nutrition requirement?
Your body should not lack any of the nutrients in regards to your and your baby’s health. Don’t forget, your important goal is to eat a wide variety of food during pregnancy. There is an old saying that when a woman is pregnant she must eat for two. Yes, it is true so, you have to eat enough to supply nutrients for yourself and for your growing baby. It is important if you are increasing your diet, ensure that it is in good quantity as well as good quality.
Always prefer natural, low-fat foods
Try to avoid Chips and soda, fast food, empty caloric food such as pretzels and doughnuts. It contains no nutritional value and say a big ‘NO’ to over-processed food.
You can rather have cheese crackers and carrot sticks. You should add fresh fruits, green vegetables, and salad. Add lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, beans, or lentils into your daily diet.
You can eat your favourite food as well if you crave for any particular dish or food. But you can balance them with healthy food so you don’t skip any important nutrient and vitamin in your diet.
What are the good things you eat and drink during pregnancy?
The nutrient you need preconception – The first trimester of pregnancy is important in terms of the baby’s growth and development. The best way to make sure that sufficient nutrients are within easy reach for the developing fetus is to start a healthy diet before you get pregnant.
You should also take folic acid or iron supplements in the preconception period. Proper nutrition is a particular matter of concern during this time. Any kind of risk to the mother or your baby is only when you are underweight or overweight or lacking any nutrient from your diet.
The nutrient you needs during pregnancy
1. Energy or calories
- Carbohydrate, fat, and protein in the diet are a rich source of energy kilocalories (kcal). Therefore its very important to include all these three nutrients into your diet. Well, there is no specific recommendation for intake of fats and carbohydrates in your diet.
- You can reach the targeted weight gain with the intake of these essential nutrients. A total calories intake of 2500 kcal is recommended to meet the high demand of pregnancy.
- Intake of cereals and grains are a good source of complex carbohydrates than the simple carbs such as sugar and fruits because these sources are slowly digested and in this way, it helps to regulate the insulin and glucose level.
- You should not take sugar substitute during pregnancy because your body needs sugar to regulate the glucose level.
- If you are overweight or obese then you should never take less than 1500 calories per day.
- Weight gain during pregnancy is important to make sure your baby’s normal growth and development and it promotes fruitful and effective lactation. This helps in the growth of your baby.
It is an essential nutritional element in the growth of fetal tissue especially your baby’s brain. Its demand increases in pregnancy so it’s important to take enough protein during this time period. It increases the maternal blood circulation or volume and to allow more blood supply to your baby.
Your daily protein requirement during the first, second and third-trimester varies or depends on your routine. The daily need for protein 46g but in pregnancy, the demand for protein increases to 71gm daily. you can add more protein during the second and third trimester or if have a twin pregnancy. You should eat three servings of protein per day.
Valuable sources of protein include:
- Meat (lean meat)
- Milk, eggs, cheese
- Dried beans and peas
- Whole grains and nuts
- Peanut butter
Protein in this is the best form, includes all nine essential amino acids and a complete form of protein and also a source of vitamin B calcium and iron. Protein from plants also provides needed dietary fibres. In addition, vegetables and bread, cereals, rice, or pasta can be additional sources of protein.
If you have a family history of high cholesterol, probably you should not eat more than two or three eggs per week because eggs contain high cholesterol. In this condition, you can eat lean meat, and for cooking use olive oil instead of butter, and you should remove the skin from chicken to minimize its fat. You should avoid lunch meats such as bologna or salami as food staples because they are the source of fat not a good source of protein.
On the other hand, milk is a very good source of protein but most of the women don’t like to drink because of the high content of fat and calories and most women don’t drink milk cause of lactose intolerance and few don’t like its taste. So what you can do you can have nonfat milk, which is a good source of protein and low in fat and calories.
As a substitute, you can have buttermilk although it is rich in sodium or can try chocolate milk or any flavoured milk. Yogurt, cheese, eggnog, custard or cream soup can work as a substitute of milk.
If you are lactose intolerant, you can add any lactate supplement available in the market or add calcium supplement in your diet. You can consult with your doctor for any recommendation or advice.
3.Calcium and phosphorus
Daily intake of Calcium helps to build your baby’s bones and major portions of your baby. It also helps in the maintenance of the mother’s bones and tooth mineralization. For proper supply of calcium and phosphorus for bone formation and bone growth, you need to eat food high in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium regulates your body’s use of fluids.
The daily-recommended requirement of calcium for pregnant women is 1300mg or 1000mg. if you cannot drink milk or milk product then you should take a daily calcium supplement. Pregnant women must take at least three servings of calcium per day.
Excellent sources of calcium are:
- Milk and milk products
Folate is also known as folic acid. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 and folic acid is the synthetic form. It plays an important role during pregnancy as it reduces the risk of major birth defects that affect the fetus brain and spinal cord e.g. neural tube defect, anencephaly and spina bifida. During pregnancy, your body requires 600 to 800 micrograms of folate.
There are foods sources of folate are:
- Liver: chicken, turkey – provide 500mcg or more per serving and lamb and beef provide 200mcg of folate.
- Cooked legumes, lentils
- Peas- chickpeas
- Beans- kidney beans, black beans, red navy and pinto beans
- Vegetables- cooked spinach, asparagus, broccoli, green vegetables
- Fruits- avocados, oranges
- Bread, egg and corn, whole grain, dried fruit
- Ready to eat cereals and grain products
Intake of iron is essential when you are pregnant. In average, if you take 1000 of calories per day in your diet it gives you 6mg of iron so if you take 2500 of calories in your diet then you get 15mg of iron from your diet. Because what you eat, your body absorbs only 10% to 20% of iron. Therefore, iron supplements are crucial for you and your baby growth.
Basically, Iron function or go with potassium, sodium and water to increase the blood flow. An adequate level of iron is necessary to ensure that enough oxygen is supplied to both you and your baby. An adequate haemoglobin level is must oxygenate the blood therefore; enough level of iron is needed to maintain a high level of haemoglobin. Additionally, it will prevent excessive iron lost during delivery or birth.
The other important thing you must know that the iron you are taking, how it’s going to absorb in your body. So it needs an acidic environment for absorption. So yes, if you are taking enough vitamin C or ascorbic acid it will help more than anything and increase the absorption of iron. Orange juice is a rich source of vitamin C. you should go for it. Your daily iron requirement is 27milligram to 30 milligrams per day.
You can get iron from:
- Meat, eggs
- Green leafy vegetables especially dark green
- Whole grains, dried fruits, enriched bread
- Cereals, legumes
- Lean beef, poultry
- Citrus fruits
All women of childbearing age and women who are pregnant should take folic acid 400microgram per day in their diet. It is important as folate and iron. Which help to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. You should start taking folic acid before conception and should continue throughout your pregnancy. The body requirement of iron may vary from person to person or depends on individual needs.
If any women who are suffering from a mental disorder or taking any kind of any anti-epileptic drugs and trying to conceive should consult with your doctor for higher doses of folic acid to prevent neural tube defects in a baby.
There are rich sources of folic acid are:
- Green leafy vegetables,
- Fruits, berries, citrus fruits
- Cereals, Whole grains,
- Nuts, dry fruits,
- Folic acid supplements and vitamin supplements.
In pregnancy, due to the hormonal changes and the other changes can affect the function of the thyroid gland in your body. Especially thyroid gland function increases than usual in pregnancy. Iodine is very crucial for the production of thyroxine, as it regulates the function of the thyroid gland. Due to increased demand for the thyroid gland, a pregnant woman needs enough iodine.
Why it is important?
Iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid gland enlargement which is goitre in women and it can cause the same problem in your growing baby and can cause respiratory distress or windpipe blockage due to the increased pressure of the enlarged gland on the windpipe of a baby.
The daily recommendation of iodine during pregnancy is 220microgram. Seafood is a good source of iodine. But should be careful and avoid taking excessive seafood. It is always better if you take iodized salt than the plain salt to make sure if you are taking a good quality of healthy iodine in your diet.
Another important thing apart from nutrition is to drink enough water and fluids. You should at least drink 8 glasses of water every day. Sometimes it is difficult to take enough amounts of nutrients and vitamins especially iron, folate and calcium from food, so you can take a supplemental prenatal vitamin as per your doctor advise. Because it is important that you and your baby should stay healthy and safe throughout pregnancy and later.
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I am experienced health professional (B.Sc. Nursing, P.GD Nursing). I am passionate to provide valuable information about Maternal and child Health. My goal is to provide the right and trustworthy information about pregnancy and baby care.