Once an overlooked area, health from conception through postpartum is today a topic widely discussed. A woman's body is endowed with the ability to bear and give birth to a child by nature. If you haven't been on the healthy side of things, the body needs to prepare for this a lot more. Preconception is also known as the beginning of nutrition, which determines the stability of the journey ahead. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Richa Pendake, Founder & CEO at Nutrizoe, to know about the important dietary guidelines for women from preconception to post delivery.
At the initial stage, one needs to be very cautious regarding the body’s condition and nutrition requirement. The fundamentals of healthy eating remain the same through the entire journey. You need to get lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats during preconception and pregnancy.
Dietary guidelines from preconception to post delivery
However, one needs to remember that pregnancy demands a little more energy and nutrient requirements; 300-400 Kcal of energy, an addition of 25 gms of protein, 1200+ mg of calcium, +35 mg of Iron, 600 IU of Vitamin D are required. The basic and additional requirement of nutrition is added by the need to maintain maternal health, meet the requirement of the growing foetus, along with providing strength and vitality required during labour and ensuring successful lactation.
The body's BMI or any underlying medical conditions like PCOS, PCOD, or thyroid are of utmost priority. It is advisable to have tests done to determine one's current levels of iron, protein, calcium, and important vitamins D3 and B12. Create a diet plan and natural supplementation on the same basis to start putting together a healthy body. Lower your initial fat percentage by shedding a few pounds. A few nutrients in pregnancy and postpartum diet need special consideration.
It is a B vitamin that improves fertility chances and helps avoid significant issues with the developing brain and spinal cord (neural tube abnormalities). At least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate or folic acid per day are recommended prior to conception and 600 to 1,000 micrograms per day are recommended throughout pregnancy. Cereals that have been fortified are excellent folic acid sources. Natural sources of folate include dark green & leafy vegetables like spinach, asparagus, citrus fruits, dry beans, peas, and lentils.
It is the most important food for supporting baby growth. The recommended daily intake of 71 grams (g) can be obtained from both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources, such as paneer, tofu, lentils, soybeans, rajma, chickpeas, oats, eggs, and chicken. Pick meals high in fibre that are also whole-grain and help avoid constipation.
Red blood cells utilise iron for energy. Iron is processed by the body to generate haemoglobin. It transports oxygen to the body's tissues. You require twice as much iron during pregnancy as non-pregnant women do. Your body needs this iron to produce more blood so that your child can receive oxygen. You might develop iron deficiency leading to anaemia, if your iron levels are insufficient or if you don't acquire enough iron while you're pregnant. You might start experiencing headaches or exhaustion.
In addition to raising the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight babies, and postpartum depression, severe iron deficiency causes anaemia during pregnancy. The daily need for elemental iron is roughly 27 mg. Among the major sources include spinach, oranges, beets, beans, fish, and oats. Combine iron with vitamin C-rich foods like orange juice, tomato juice, or strawberries. Steer clear of calcium-fortified foods. Despite being a necessary mineral during pregnancy, calcium can reduce the absorption of iron when combined with it.
4. Stay hydrated
Lastly, stay well hydrated. Drinking at least three litres of water a day can assist your body stay healthy and will also reduce any swelling or edema you may have during pregnancy.