Dietary Advice during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a normal physiological process, but it put an extra physiological burden on women’s body, as there is a fast growing fetus inside and the normal physiology of the mother prepares itself for the fast growing fetus. Pregnancy is a time when there is a requirement of increased nutritional needs for supporting the rapidly growing fetus and also to allow for the changes occurring in the body of the mother. Due to extra physiological burden on the mother, there increased need of many vitamins and minerals than those recommended prior to pregnancy. The development of fetus is accompanied by many biochemicals, physiological, and hormonal changes (generally increased) occurring in the mother’s body which influence the need for various nutrients and the efficiency with which the body uses them.

On an average a pregnant woman need approximately 10-15% of all the nutrients we generally need. The increased demand is usually lower during first few months of pregnancy and higher during last three months of pregnancy.

The recommended foods during pregnancy:

  • Protein requirement during pregnancy: The protein requirement should be met from white meat, fish (both fresh water and salt water fishes), poultry, milk and milk products, grains (depending on region and custom it may be rice, wheat, maize etc.), pulses (eaten regularly in South Asia and good source of protein) etc. Protein, a major nutrient, is necessary for growth of new cells and replacement of old ones, especially in the growing fetus.
  • Fat requirement during pregnancy: The fat requirement should be met from vegetable oils as they are rich in unsaturated fatty acids (good cholesterol) which are good for heart, and fats from animal sources should be avoided as they contain saturated fatty acids (bad cholesterol) which are harmful for heart.
  • Carbohydrate requirement during pregnancy: The carbohydrate requirement should be met from whole grains (rice, wheat, maize etc.) instead of refined grains or cereals. Whole grains contain many vitamins and minerals along with good amount of fiber, which help to prevent constipation.
  • Vitamins, minerals and micronutrient requirement during pregnancy: The requirement of vitamins, minerals and micronutrient should be met from fruits (some fruits to be consumed during pregnancy are mango, orange, guava, melons, papaya, gooseberry, grapes, strawberry, apples, banana also a good source of carbohydrate, cherries, lemons etc.), vegetables (some vegetables to be consumed during pregnancy are spinach, carrot, cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables and many more), milk and milk products.

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