Motherhood is a testing phase in every women’s life may it be physiologically, mentally as well as nutritionally. If you are pregnant or someone in your family is expecting a baby, make sure that they eat well. Additional food and extra attention is required during pregnancy as well as lactation. Extra food is required to meet the nutritional requirement of the baby in your womb. Additional foods are required to improve the weight gain in pregnancy (generally 10-12 kgs) and birth weight of infants (about 2.5kgs-3kgs). The nutritional requirement of a pregnant woman keeps changing depending upon the various trimesters of pregnancy. In some cases, micronutrients (like folic acid/ iron tablets) are specially required in extra amounts to reduce the risk of malformations in baby and increase birth weight of baby and to prevent anaemia in expecting mothers.
Extra intake of Calcium is required, during pregnancy and lactation phase, for proper formation of bones and teeth of the baby, for secretion of breast-milk which is rich in calcium and to prevent osteoporosis in the expecting and lactating mothers. Therefore, their diet should contain calcium rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, green leafy vegetables, legumes and seafood. Vitamin A is required during lactation to improve child survival. Apart from these, nutrients like Vitamin B12 and C are also needed to be taken by lactating mother.
Iron is needed for hemoglobin synthesis, and to provide immunity against diseases. Deficiency of iron leads to anaemia. Iron deficiency is common particularly in women of reproductive age and children. Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases maternal mortality and low birth weight infants. Plant foods like green leafy vegetables, legumes and dry fruits contain iron. Iron can also obtained through sources like meat, fish and poultry products. Consume vitamin C- rich fruits like gooseberries (amla), guava, oranges and citrus rich fruits for better absorption of iron from your diet.
Iodine deficiency during pregnancy results in still births, abortions and cretinism therefore use iodized salt in your food.
So, now you know why good nutrition is essential. Well, it’s important for a pregnant mother to maintain fetus as well as her own health, to provide strength required during labor; and for successful lactation. Make sure that the diet taken during pregnancy is light, nutritious, easy to digest and rich in all essential nutrients.
Points to Remember:
- Eat more food during pregnancy both in quality and quantity.
- Eat more whole grains, sprouted grams and fermented foods.
- Eat plenty of fruits and green leafy vegetables.
- Do not consume alcohol and tobacco. It is harmful for the health of mother as well as child.
- Take medicines only when prescribed by doctor.
- Take iron, folate and calcium supplements regularly as prescribed by the doctor.
- Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and liver are good sources of folic acid.