Table of Contents
- Importance of A Healthy & Balanced Diet During Pregnancy!
- Prenatal Vitamins: Building Blocks of Pregnancy Nutrition
- Key Nutrients A Mother Needs During Pregnancy!
A healthy balanced diet is necessary when you are a mom-to-be. You need additional nutrients to support the growth of your baby and prepare your body for childbirth. Does that mean you need to eat for two?
The crux of a healthy diet doesn't lie with the quantity of food rather the quality of the diet. However, a sufficient increase in the intake is also necessary as you scale through the trimesters.
Importance of A Healthy & Balanced Diet During Pregnancy!
A balanced diet includes foods from the five groups- vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy. In pregnancy, a mother's body becomes more efficient at absorbing the nutrients like carbs, protein, fat, fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals to cope with the physical and hormonal changes. Here is a summary!
- Healthy eating increases energy, improves body functions, and strengthens the immune system.
- A healthy eating habit maintains the body weight a mother needs to have during pregnancy.
- Fulfills nutritional needs such as proteins becoming the building block of fetal development, fats are important for fetal nervous system development, or the omega-3 fatty acid that helps to boost IQ.
- A special diet can reduce pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, heartburn, constipation, etc.
- Provides energy and prevents the risk of specific diseases.
Prenatal Vitamins: Building Blocks of Pregnancy Nutrition
In pregnancy, the amount and type of nutrients a body needs changes drastically. Therefore, even with a healthy diet, more often women lack key nutrients in their bodies. To overcome it, doctors often recommend taking prenatal vitamins with a well-balanced diet.
When Do Pregnant Women Need Prenatal Vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are the nutritional supplements that a woman needs during pre-conception (3 months before getting pregnant), or while being pregnant, or in the time of breastfeeding. These include folic acid, calcium, iron, DHA, vitamins C, D, E, B, and more.
Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins:
- Nutritional backups to make sure you are not falling short of nutrients
- Most women during pregnancy feel uncomfortable due to nausea and vomiting. According to research certain prenatal vitamins (like vitamin B6) significantly reduces pregnancy-induced nausea.
- Reduce the risk of birth defects that can develop at the first 28 days after conception
- Reduce the risk of Autism
- Prevent premature birth and lower birth weight of the baby
How To Take Prenatal Vitamins?
It is recommended to take prenatal vitamins while being on an empty stomach with sufficient water. If you tend to experience nausea after taking the pills, you can have light food before taking the vitamins.
Key Nutrients A Mother Needs During Pregnancy!
Folic acid (synthetically produced vitamin B9)
If you are planning for a baby or in the early stages of pregnancy, you must take folic acid supplements or folate-based food on a daily basis.
Quantity: at least 400 micrograms every day
Source: green leafy vegetables, broccoli, fruits like oranges and avocado, bread or cereals
- Helps in the development of the baby's nervous system and neural tube. As babies with NTDs (neural tube defects) have a poor survival rate, folic acid must be taken to prevent the defects.
- Helps in the formation of the heart and circulatory system.
- Lowers the risk of birth defects and preterm labour
- Prevents gestational diabetes and miscarriage in pregnant women.
It is an important mineral the body produces naturally. However, in pregnancy, your body needs twice the amount of iron as it normally does. Therefore, the extra amount can also be obtained through food and supplements.
Quantity: at least 27 milligrams every day.
For anemic moms: at least 120 mg every day until her Hb concentration rises to normal
Source: chicken, salmon, shrimp, sardines, kale, beans and lentils, spinach, broccoli
- The main function of iron is to produce the required amount of blood volume.
- Iron helps in the growth of the fetus and placenta.
An essential element that is needed for the development of the skeleton, helps in muscle contraction, bone formation, enzyme and hormone functioning.
A negative reaction may occur between iron and calcium. Therefore, WHO recommends taking one supplement several hours apart from the other.
Quantity: at least 1,000 milligrams every day
Source: dairy products, green vegetables, seafood, dried peas, and beans
- Reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia
- Helps in the development of strong bones and teeth in the baby
- Assists in the growth of a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles
- Improve blood-clotting abilities
It plays a key role in strengthening the health of both the mother and her fetus. After the birth, the lactating mother becomes the main source of vitamin D for the infant. Therefore, it is important to maintain a sufficient level of vitamin D in a mother's body.
Quantity: 1,000–2,000 international units per day
Source: canned tuna, fatty fish, dairy products, eggs, orange, cereal, mushroom
- Prevents pregnancy complications like preeclampsia
- Prevents gestational diabetes in pregnant women
- Prevents preterm birth and lower baby weight
- Helps in maintaining the respiratory health of babies
- Maintains blood sugar balance in babies
- Helps in fetal skeletal development and tooth enamel formation
During pregnancy, a mother needs about 50% more iodine than usual. A lack of iodine in the diet subsequently affects the fetus.
Quantity: 220 to 250 microgram every day
Source: yogurt, curd, shrimp, low-fat milk, tuna, corn, cheese, prunes, apple, raisin bran cereal
- Helps in brain development
- Helps in thyroid hormone synthesis in both mother and child
Scientifically known as Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), a special nutrient that is responsible for the critical developments in infants and toddlers. This Omega-3 fatty acid is the foundation-building element of the brain and retina.
Quantity: at least 200 milligrams (mg) of DHA before, during, and after pregnancy every day
Source: Herring, salmon, trout, anchovies, halibut, catfish, shrimp and tilapia, orange, milk, and eggs
- Induces cognitive thinking in babies and boosts memory
- Improves language skills, focus, and attention span
- Reduces the risk of preterm labour
- Increases IQ
- Improves sleep quality
- Prevents asthma, blood pressure, and allergies
- Reduces symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Protects against depression
Know more about the role of DHA in pregnancy.
Are You Providing Sufficient DHA to Your Child? LifeCell Diagnostics Introduces Omegascore-P
A convenient and rapid way to know your DHA levels!
DHA is optimally present in the breast milk of lactating mothers. DHA levels are, however, difficult to quantify because we obtain it from different types of food with diverse absorption patterns. Therefore, the only way to determine DHA levels in breast milk is to have it tested.
LifeCell’s Omegascore-P is an in-depth analysis of breast milk to help quantify the DHA level in your body. Since there is a general deficiency in DHA level among the Indian population, Omegascore-P is recommended for all lactating mothers.
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