The moment you broke the news of your pregnancy to friends and family, you received several tips for a healthy pregnancy. – Some on nutrition, a handful of exercise during pregnancy and of course those to deal with the not-so-pleasant symptoms of this baby-carrying phase.
Among all, nutrition is the most vital. A healthy diet composed of the right food groups and packed with the required vitamins and minerals is the key to your little one’s health.
In this article we separate the facts and the myths on pregnancy nutrition. Read on and enjoy.
It’s Time To Eat For Two – NO
“You will now be eating for two…” This phrase is often uttered in relation to pregnancy diet and nutrition. You have to eat more than your regular food intake, but the increase doesn’t double the amount. Overeating during pregnancy will cause weight gain. It will also raise the risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes in your child.
When pregnant, you should add an additional 300-350 calories to your regular calorie intake. They should be nutritionally rich and not the empty calories found in junk food and carbonated drinks. 300 calories is not much. It is equivalent to two medium sized apples.
The Must-Have Pregnancy Nutrients
Iron, calcium and folic acid are some of the essential pregnancy nutrients.
Women should start taking folic acid before conception. Folic acid increases a woman’s chance of getting pregnant. After conception it prevents the development of neural tube defects in the baby. The recommended dosage is 400 mcg for the first few months. Thereafter, your doctor will put you on a prescription prenatal vitamin.
Iron is the next most important mineral after folic acid. Iron is needed to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen to the different parts of the body. The requirement of iron during pregnancy especially the 2nd and 3rd trimesters is an additional 50%. Iron deficiency is the cause of fatigue and sluggishness of pregnant women. Babies whose mothers were iron deficient were observed to have low birth weight and suffered from anemia too.
During gestation the mother’s body supplies the required calcium for baby bone growth and development. In the absence of calcium, calcium is derived from the mother’s bones. This reduces bone density. It also puts you at a greater risk of osteoporosis.
Another nutrient that is necessary during pregnancy is Docosahexaenoic (DHA). It plays a crucial role in eye and brain development. Besides this, the body also needs proteins.
The daily fluid quota during pregnancy includes 8- 10 glasses of water every day. You can also add milk and juices. Avoid alcohol. It is not healthy for the baby. It may also cause dehydration in the mother. You should also limit the intake of caffeine to 1-2 cups a day.
You should never skip meals. If morning sickness prevents you from eating or drinking anything, opt for food items you can snack on. In the later stages of pregnancy, appetite increases and the food cravings set in. To satiate your increased hunger eat many smaller meals. Eat grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat and seafood in the right proportions. Fats are required too, but eat them sparingly.
Weight Gain and Weight Loss
You do not put on weight immediately. In fact, during the first trimester you may drop a few pounds. Morning sickness, the most common first trimester pregnancy symptom makes it hard to stomach food and drinks. Severe morning sickness can cause dehydration. Therefore, you should speak to your doctor if you suffer persistent nausea and vomiting.
After the first trimester, morning sickness subsides and you gradually start putting on weight. You should keep a tab on what you eat as being overweight is not healthy. On the contrary, being underweight is equally harmful to the mother and the child during pregnancy. You should maintain optimum weight (25-35 pounds) during pregnancy.
Underweight women will need to put on more to support the growth and development of the baby. Overweight women can control weight gain by chalking out a diet plan in consultation with their health care provider and nutritionist.