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Diet for a Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the most exciting phase for a woman, as it embarks her journey towards woman-hood. The ultimate goal for every pregnancy, would be ensuring a healthy mother and a healthy baby, which requires intensive care and efforts by the mother, the family members & health care providers. While the health care providers do their job, the expectant mother should make sure that she eats healthy so that the baby develops and grows well during the pregnancy.

Diet for a Healthy Pregnancy
Diet for a Healthy Pregnancy
Nutrition and weight gained during pregnancy is directly related to the baby's weight. The ideal weight gain for a mother during pregnancy depends on the pre-pregnancy body mass index or BMI. A woman with normal BMI (20 - 26) can gain up-to 11-16 kgs, while for an obese woman i.e BMI > 29, a weight gain of 7 kgs in sufficient. On the other hand, an underweight woman i.e. BMI < 19, may be allowed to gain up-to 18 kgs.

The diet during pregnancy should be such that it adequately maintains the maternal health, the needs of the growing fetus, the strength & vitality required during labor and a successful lactation. While an average Indian pregnant woman with a sedentary lifestyle requires 2200 kcal, the pregnant woman's calorie requirement is an additional 300 kcal and during lactation it is up-to 400 k cal more. This increase in the calorie requirement is because of the increased growth of maternal tissues, fetus, placenta and increase in Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

The source of the additional 300 kcal should come from food sources rich in protein, fats and carbohydrates. Meat, fish, poultry eggs and dairy products like milk, serve as major source of proteins, Iron, calcium, Vitamin D. Folic acid is majorly found in green leafy vegetables and animal liver. Folic acid prevents Neural tube defects in the new born and is important supplement to be added to the diet.

There is no specified quantity or a special diet recommended in pregnancy. In fact the pregnancy diet should be the woman's choice as regards the quantity and type. It should be nutritious, easily digestible and rich in protein, minerals and vitamins.
As there is a tendency of constipation during pregnancy which is associated with abdominal discomfort, it can be easily avoided by including fluids, vegetables and milk in the diet.

An important fact to note is that along with the increased calorie requirement, the requirement of minerals like Iron, Calcium and vitamins like Vitamin D and Folic acid is almost double during pregnancy and lactation.
It is advisable that supplementary Iron, Folic acid tablets and supplementary vitamins should be started by the second trimester as the dietary sources may often not be enough to meet the daily requirement especially during later part of pregnancy.

A healthy diet will lead to a healthy pregnancy which in turn will lead to a healthy mother all ready to embrace her health baby into this world.

ALSO READ : Your Oral Guide to Pregnancy

Written by

Studied MBBS from Mumbai. Currently pursuing Post Graduation.

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