A complete dietary recommendation guide for pregnant women.

Pregnancy sure is a demanding state, not only psychologically but also physically. The body is adapting itself to nurture a baby within itself, so it’s important to ensure adequate nutrition is being supplied to the mother and to the developing fetus.  To meet the extra requirements of the fetus, the mother needs extra food and nutrients. But that doesn’t mean one would gobble up everything that comes on the way, as is generally practised in Indian societies. The below guide will help you prepare a much-balanced diet for you, making sure you are getting sufficient nutrients during various stages of your pregnancy.  

Normally, a non-pregnant, non-lactating woman requires 1900kcal each day as a part of a healthy diet. When pregnant, the requirement increases to +600kcal, i.e. 2500kcal each day. You can divide your food accordingly but make sure to follow the healthy rules: 

1. Choose food from different food groups: You might like something better than the other but make sure you include food from different food groups. In a day, you need to have: 

• About 9 servings of cereals and millets. (Of 30-35gms each)

• 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. (100gm each)

• 5 portions of milk and milk products. (100gm each)

• 2 portions of pulses (30gm each)

• 1 portion of meat, egg, etc. (30gm)

• 5 portions of fats and sugars. (10gm each) 

2. Take extra care of hygiene:  It is very important to take extra care of hygienic. Make sure the food is prepared under hygienic conditions in the kitchen and fruits and vegetables are washed properly before use as harmful bacteria like Listeria and Toxoplasmagondii present in them can contaminate the food. 

3. Make sure the food is thoroughly cooked: Pregnant women are exceedingly prone to salmonella infections. Therefore, food must be cooked properly before serving, especially, poultry, eggs, and meat. 

4. Balance your cravings: Even though it’s normal to have cravings during this period, don’t indulge yourself in having too much of junk or unhygienic food preparations. Spicy foods should also be avoided. If you are having cravings for inedible items like clay, soil, chalk, etc. you must consult your gynaecologist immediately. 

5. Take proper supplements: Apart from the diet you take, it’s important to take up some supplements to cover up energy requirements. Normally, Vitamin A supplements are given to pregnant women. De-warming supplements are also advised in some cases. It is advised to keep in constant touch with your gynaecologist with regular checkups. Take supplements only on the medical recommendation of your gynaecologist, as different bodies demand different medication. 

There are some particular precautionary measures/tips; you will need to follow according to the stage of pregnancy you are going through. Here’s what you need to be aware of when it comes to food habits during pregnancy: 

First Trimester

  • Take a small amount of food frequently: As the body changes, you will need to be careful to accommodate those changes in your body. Taking a small amount of food at a time will reduce the feeling of nausea and sickness that pregnant woman often feels at this stage.  
  • Take adequate Calcium: Increase the intake of calcium foods in your diet (dairy foods) as it encourages healthy bone development which is very important for your changing body. 

Second Trimester

  • Increase Iron Intake: Iron is an essential component for the growth of red blood cells. Generally, women should take iron rich food throughout their pregnancy but it should be more during the second trimester as the baby is developing its own supply of red blood cells. 
  • Vitamin C intake: To absorb the excess Iron in your body, you will require eating Vitamin C rich foods like berries, kiwi, broccoli, and citrus fruits. 

Third Trimester

  • Avoid acidic food: Heartburn is one of the symptoms you often feel during this stage as the baby gets bigger and puts pressure on the mother’s body. To reduce it, you might want to avoid the intake of acidic food in your diet.  

As an end note, remember it is not only until delivery that you need to follow a healthy diet, it’s equally, if not more, important as it was during your pregnancy. Your body needs to replenish post-partum and you also need to lactate well to feed your baby. Therefore, ensure that you continue your healthy diet even after the delivery.