Pregnancy – Probably the only time when women look beyond their families, other responsibilities and actually take care of themselves. During pregnancy, the hormonal changes cause physical and emotional variations affecting mood, appetite, energy levels etc of women.
Avoid list: Put Alcohol, Tobacco and Caffeine on the avoid list. Alcohol, I would suggest should be fully avoided be it even wine, gin or vodka in small pints as it causes birth abnormalities and developmental problems. Tobacco causes premature labor and low birth weight. Researchers say, caffeine be it from any source – chocolates, colas, cocoa, tea, medicines for cold, raises the risk of miscarriage.
When to take care: Eating for a eating for a healthy pregnancy should start before conception. What you eat before conceiving and during the first trimester of pregnancy helps determine how well your child’s immune system develops. I believe most pregnant women can benefit from a nutritional program which should be followed one year before pregnancy, during pregnancy, during labor, delivery and post pregnancy through breast feeding.
What to eat when pregnant: You should consume approx 2300 to 2500 calories to ensure a balanced diet which should include foods like whole grain, cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish and dairy products. 60% of your diet should be grain based, 25% protein and 15% should be fats and essential oils. Also ensure enough fluids along with the food, drink atleast 8-10 glasses of water to meet your fluid requirements. Also include at least 2-3 servings of fruits and 4-5 servings of vegetables daily.
During pregnancy, the need for nutrition changes
Folic acid is the only vitamin whose requirement doubles in pregnancy. Its deficiency causes low birth weight infants, neural tube defects and congenital birth defects. Women who are hereditarily predisposed to such defects need to increase intake of folic acid to about 800 mcg per day. Sources of Folic acid are green leafy vegetables, nuts like almonds, walnuts, whole grains and whole pulses. Calcium intake reduces cramps during pregnancy. Its deficiency causes high blood pressure and water retention. Sources of calcium are leafy vegetables, rajhma, kabuli, channa, sesame seeds, cheese, milk soya milk, carrot juice, tofu, pumpkin seeds, almonds etc. Intake of B-vitamins namely B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 ensure higher infant birth weight and size.
During lactation, it is important to replenish the fluids lost during breast feeding. Have juices, water and milk to aid the same. Also there is an additional need for nutrients and hence the diet needs to be changed accordingly.
Women with a history of anorexia, obesity, diabetes, GI problems need special instructions about their dietary requirements.
Exercise during pregnancy
Do regular, low impact exercises like walking, swimming and stretching instead of sporadic, exhaustive exercises. Avoid bouncing and jerky movements especially in the third trimester.
Each pregnancy is unique. Pregnancy can be easily supported by rest, nutritional supplements, low impact exercises, avoidance of harmful substances and a positive attitude. Although external factors like food and exercise contribute, it is your own positive relationship with your body and the child that really matters. If there is inadequate nutrient intake, it is the woman who suffers the subsequent deficiencies.
“My advice to you is that during pregnancy don’t eat for two but the two of you must eat better than one”
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