Pregnancy is a special phase of a women’s life and a healthy pregnancy diet plan safeguards the growth and development of the baby as well as maintains the health of the new mother. Nutritional requirements during pregnancy are increased and a healthy diet to meet this increased requirement is very important. Benefits of eating healthy during pregnancy include:
1. Healthy growth of the baby – A diet containing all growth supporting nutrients ensures optimal growth and weight of the baby. A low birth weight baby is prone to infections and diseases.
2. Reduce risk of birth defects – Absence of required nutrients or exposure to toxins and chemical from processed or artificial foods can lead to birth defects which hamper baby’s growth and development.
3. Reduced complications – Complications like high blood pressure, low haemoglobin, high sugar etc are common risk associated with pregnancy. Lactogenic Foods to be included in diet for pregnancy which helps manage these complications.
4. Resolves symptoms – During pregnancy many women face problems like morning sickness, heartburn, constipation etc. Following a proper diet plan during pregnancy helps overcome such symptoms and helps young mothers to eat healthy.
Pregnancy is a start of an incredible journey and its preparation should be thorough and well –planned. Foundation for a healthy pregnancy starts before pregnancy during the pre-conception phase or pre-pregnancy phase.
Nutrition during Pre-pregnancy Phases
Preparing for your pregnancy before you get pregnant ensure health of your future child. At times making amends after one conceives becomes too late. Some nutritional deficiencies are so grave that they are not rectified even after eating healthy during pregnancy. Therefore before your start planning your family, visit your doctor and consult a pregnancy dietitian to fill in any gaps in your fitness and health.
Consulting your doctor before getting pregnant helps find issues that could affect your pregnancy, and steps can be taken avoid potential problems. Illness during pregnancy can have detrimental effects on you as well as the growth of your baby. Therefore enquiring about vaccinations you need before and during pregnancy helps preventing such mishaps.
Eating healthy food before you start your pregnancy helps overcome nutritional deficiencies and rectify associated symptoms and issues. Following a well balanced diet under a guidance of a dietitian is a way to start on your journey.
Three important nutrient that need to be taken care of before pregnancy include:
1. Folic acid – Folic Acid is of utmost important during pregnancy. Including foods rich in folic acid in your diet before pregnancy helps overcome deficiencies and reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord (called neural tube defects). These defects can lead to varying degrees of paralysis, incontinence, and, sometimes, intellectual disability.
Folic acid is especially significant during the first 28 days after conception. Unfortunately, many women do not realize that they are pregnant during this time.
2. Iron – Most women in India are anemic .i.e. poor hemoglobin levels. Building up your iron stores before pregnancy helps prepare a mother’s body for the needs of the fetus during pregnancy. Foods rich in iron should form a major part of the pregnancy diet plan. Good sources of iron include- meats, poultry, fish, green leafy vegetables, dates, figs, whole grains and pulses.
3. Calcium – this bone mineral is of great consequence to building healthy bones. The recommended calcium intake for women is 1,000 milligrams. A diet lacking in calcium can have severe repercussion on the mother as well as baby.If the diet lacks adequate calcium then the fetus draws calcium from the mother’s bones which can lead to osteoporosis in mother in later life.
Pre-pregnancy planning is the best way to step in to motherhood- informed and prepared -you will be well equipped to face any challenges.
Nutrition during Pregnancy
Nutrition and diet during pregnancy has a huge impact on your pregnancy. Without a doubt nutritional requirements during pregnancy are quite different than normal people. The aim of a well formulated diet plan for pregnancy should be to support growth of the fetus, preserve health of the mother and prepare for the process of delivery.
1. Cart the calories – Energy requirement during pregnancy are indeed high. An additional 300 kcal per day is required to maintain weight of both the mother and the baby.
2. Perk up the proteins – Proteins are required for proper growth of foetal tissues including the brain. It is also essential for the growth of uterine and breast tissues. Protein needs during pregnancy are increased by an extra 6g/day.
3. For the fats – Fats are equally important especially to add up the caloric requirement. Fats especially omega 3 and omega 6 should be a part of your pregnancy diet plan as they play an important role in the development of your child.
4. Max the micro-nutrients – Micro-nutrients like vitamins and minerals are an essential component of a healthy pregnancy diet. Vitamins like vitamin A, B-complex, C, D, K, and E should be adequately supplied in the diet. Macro minerals – like calcium, iron and zinc are critical and so are trace minerals like selenium and iodine for an overall development of the baby.
Any form of dieting during pregnancy is strictly prohibited especially fad diets. A dietitian prescribed pregnancy diet chart that encourages healthy weight should be pursued.
Nutritional requirements and caloric needs differ in every trimester. Consult with a dietitian for proper pregnancy diet plan for all the three trimesters.
Post Pregnancy Nutrition
After delivery, a women’s body undergoes a lot of changes to support lactation and milk production. Nutrition during this phase is also crucial to facilitate breastfeeding. A well-balanced wholesome diet plan for after pregnancy weight loss helps lose weight as well as supports lactation.
Calorie and protein needs are high even during lactation, as they were in pregnancy. The breastfeeding mother requires an extra 300 to 400 calories for the first 12 months of breastfeeding. Iron, calcium, folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin A and other vitamins and minerals continue to be vital.
Eating clean hygienic food is imperative as everything you eat your baby will eat. As nutrient are secreted into the milk similar chemicals and toxins also find their way into the milk.
To sum it up, eating healthy food is indispensable and eating healthy during pregnancy is undisputed. Remember, a healthy mother bears a healthy child.