A pregnant woman needs to take special care of her diet because she isn’t just eating for herself, she is eating for her baby too. The growth of the fetus depends upon the health of the mother. The baby is developing in her womb, so she needs to ensure that she eats well enough to support the baby’s healthy growth and that it doesn’t penalize her health in turn.
A well-balanced, nutritious diet is mandatory. The mother’s diet may be affected by her economic status, religious and cultural beliefs, and local availability. Hence, it is paramount that she consults her doctor to prescribe her the best-fit diet and any nutritional supplements to fill any gaps that may exist.
A woman’s calorie intake will increase during pregnancy. Hence it is natural for her to put on weight. A mother carrying one child with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 will gain approximately 25 to 35 pounds during the nine months of her pregnancy.
Up to five portions of fruits and vegetables should be consumed in a day. Fresh and frozen should be preferred over canned or dried as it contains more nutrition. Similarly, fresh fruits should be preferred over juice.
Pasta, rice, potato, and bread are carbohydrate-rich food items that also need to be consumed.
Protein rich food items like lean meat, fish, chicken and eggs should be consumed. Vegetarian alternatives include quinoa, soy products, tofu, legumes, lentils, seeds, and nuts. Seafood is healthy for expecting women as it reduces anxiety and stress.
A high-fat diet can be harmful to the baby, and may genetically program it for future diabetes. Hence no more than 30% of a pregnant woman’s diet should consist of fat. It may lead to early insulin resistance and even diabetes. It also reduces the flow of blood from the mother to the placenta, increasing the risk of stillbirth.
Fibre rich food items like whole grain, wholemeal, wild rice, pulses, vegetables, and fruits must be consumed. Pregnant women are prone to constipation and obesity. A fiber rich diet helps prevent that. It also reduces the risk of hemorrhoids, chances of which increase as the fetus grows.
Calcium is important for the growth of healthy bones and teeth of the baby. Hence dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt should be consumed. Also, calcium soy milk, tofu, soybeans, mustard greens, kale, and soy nuts should be included in the diet.
Zinc enables cell division, hence it is vital to the development and growth of the fetus. Its best sources are ham, chicken, turkey, oysters, meat, dairy products, shrimps, eggs, beans, nuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, onions, ginger, bran, rice, pasta, wheat germ, cereals, tofu, and lentils.
A pregnant woman is prone to iron deficiency as her body absorbs iron better during pregnancy. Hence the intake needs to increase; otherwise, she may become anemic. Iron rich food items like dried fruits and beans, iron-fortified cereals, egg yolk, lean meat, and poultry may be consumed.
It is essential that a pregnant woman takes good care of her diet for the healthy growth and development o the baby.