Pregnancy is the most beautiful phase in a woman's life. It brings both emotional and physiological changes as well as it also poses extra demands on the body. In this phase the body needs extra nutrition for the developing fetus, for pregnant woman herself and also the lactation period to follow. Pregnancy Diet must be full of nutrition and healthy also.

Importance of Nutrition in The Diet in Pregnancy

These nutritional demands have to be met for a healthy child and mother because as the week progresses the organs and other system of the fetus start developing in mother’s womb and thus the energy used to create these systems (which actually comes from the energy and nutrients in the mother's circulation, and around the lining of the womb) also starts to increase. The table below highlights the nutrients, its importance and food sources which should be included in a women's pregnancy diet -


 Protein cell growth and blood productionlean meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, beans, tofu

Carbohydrates daily energy productionbreads, cereals, rice, fruits, vegetables

Calcium strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction, nerve function milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach

Ironred blood cell production (to prevent anemia)All green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, methi and whole-grain cereals

Vitamin A healthy skin, good eyesight, growing bonescarrots, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes

Vitamin C healthy gums, teeth, and bones; assistance with iron absorption citrus fruit, broccoli, tomatoes, amla, guavas

Vitamin B6 red blood cell formation; effective use of protein, fat, and carbohydratespork, ham, whole-grain cereals, bananas

Vitamin B12 formation of red blood cells, maintaining nervous system healthmeat, fish, poultry, milk(Note: vegetarians who don't eat dairy products need supplemental B12)

Vitamin D healthy bones and teeth; aids absorption of calcium fortified milk, dairy products, cereals, and breads

Folic acid blood and protein production, effective enzyme function green leafy vegetables, dark yellow fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, nutsFatbody energy stores meat, whole-milk dairy products, nuts, peanut butter, margarine, vegetable oils(Note: limit fat intake to 30% or less of your total daily calorie intake

Recommended Nutrients in The Diet in Pregnancy

NutrientRecommendation (Extra = Above RDA)EnergyIncrease by 300 kcal (840 kJ) per day. Certain guidelines according to trimester.1st trimester (1 to 12 weeks) - 10 kcals/day 2nd trimester (13 to 27 weeks) - 90 kcals/day 3rd trimester (27 to 40 weeks) - 200 kcals /day.ProteinsExtra 15 gms per dayThiaminIncrease in line with energy; increase by 0.1 mg per dayRiboflavinNeeded for tissue growth; extra 0.3 mg per dayNiacinRegular supplementation/diet of substance. No increase required.FolateMaintain plasma levels; extra 100 µg per dayVitamin CReplenish drained maternal stores; extra 120 mg per dayVitamin DReplenish plasma levels of vitamin 10 µg per day.CalciumNeeds no increaseIronExtra 3 mg per day neededMagnesium, zinc, and copperNormal supplementation or consumption.IodineExtra 100 µg per day.

Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

- Skip aerated or caffeine based beverages like coffee, tea and colas. Too much caffeine may affect the growth of baby. A recent study said that pregnant women who consume even about a cup of coffee everyday are at a higher risk of giving birth to an underweight baby.

- Avoid eating foods that have been prepared with maida.

- Try and cut down on eating foods that are high in sugar content.

- Sea-food that is high in mercury should be strictly avoided. Swordfish, shark and king mackerel are among these. Raw fish may contain listeria, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. While canned seafood is considered safe, skip smoked or frozen seafood like oysters, sushi, sashimi, and smoked salmon.

- Unpasteurized milk may contain listeria, which can cross the placenta and lead to infection or blood poisoning in the baby. Ensure that the milk you drink is pasteurized.

- Stay away from mould-ripened cheese (cheese that has a blue vein in it) like brie or camembert. Make sure you cook raw eggs. When the eggs are cooked, see that the yolk and white are firm.

- Avoid the consumption of smoking and drinking in day to day routine.

Healthy Pregnancy Diet Tips:-

- Have a piece of fresh fruit for a mid-morning or afternoon snack, instead of reaching for chocolates or biscuits.

- By carrying a small bottle of water when you are out ensures you are well hydrated, and not tempted by sugary soft drinks.

- Each week, prepare a couple of meals using beans, lentils and pulses.

- Add in your diet different healthy grains, such as barley, couscous or brown rice, in order to give variety to your favorite recipes.

- Choose low-fat dairy products

It is important to note that being pregnant doesn't indicate that the mother to be has to consume food for two individuals, as she is supporting a life within her. The key to a healthy pregnancy is to consume a balanced diet with light and frequent meals throughout, and to regularly take the supplements or medicines prescribed by the doctor. One should also try, and be active, for e.g., go for walks or light swimming or do pregnancy specific yoga [under supervision].