Nutrition and Pregnancy
Quality of life starts within the womb of a mother. A well fed healthy mother gives birth to healthy off springs. It is highly recommended to follow a dietary chart which fulfills all the requirements of pregnant women.
A research conducted in 1950’s proves that women who ate less during first eight weeks had high mortality and disorder rate than those who take regular diet.
Many Neurological and Physical disorders have been associated with poor nutrition intake during pregnancy. Malnourished mothers have high risks of spontaneous abortions, miscarriages and diseases during pregnancy. Are you planning a baby? If yes then, your diet habits need some more resources for conceiving. Stop crash dieting if you are over-weight because the Body Mass Index (BMI) for mothers willing to expect is 20.8 its minimum.
Similarly over-weight women having BMI above 30 have less chances of being pregnant. BMI 20 and 26 is thought to be ideal for women wishing to have children. As body requires a good reserve of micro nutrients for pregnancy to start on. You can get your BMI calculation from your family physician.
Pregnancy is divided into three “Trimesters”
First Trimester – this is the embryo development stage and the most critical one. Many pregnancies dissolve at this stage unnoticed. The mother is mostly unaware of life within her womb.
Organs and Systems start developing using the essential nutrients from mother’s body. Placenta is not formed, so in early pregnancy there is no defense system to protect sensitive embryo against deficiencies a mother already having. Folic Acid is highly required at this stage. Supplements can help you out. A well developed embryo will easily survive the first Trimester and enters the next stage of pregnancy.
Second Trimester – At this stage high protein and calcium diet is essential for the development of bones and cartilages, this is the Fetus stage. Alcohol should be totally avoided throughout the pregnancy as it causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome even the small amounts can effect on pregnancy. It is hard to believe that Aspirins taken in pregnancy to interrupt the birth process. So, it’s good to avoid all sorts of pain killers and relaxants.
Third Trimester – At this stage the baby is complete and if born can survive. The more emphases is on gaining the weight and size. It’s the most rapid growth period. It is good to have brisk walk or light exercise during last months’ as it supports Natural Child Birth.
Diet plan for Pregnant Women
Supplements do work but according to World Health Organization (WHO) it’s better to cover your nutritional requirements through natural food resources. There are many guidelines but here an easiest one is given. Keeping in mind the high Protein requirement, as proteins are the building blocks of life. Along with plenty of Vitamins and Minerals to support good growth rate.
Daily Diet Chart – It’s good to follow exactly if possible.
- Milk: 1 quarter of Milk or milk made products like cheese, yogurt and homemade low sugar ice cream.
- Eggs: Two eggs cooked in the form you like or you can make a blend of milk and egg (Egg Nog) covering your both groups.
- Proteins: Two servings, but keep in mind that one serving at least must be from Animal source, 3 ounces meat or fish, 3 ounces cheese, 1 to half cup beans. Select or combine any of your choice. You can have a fish and been salad at lunch, got the idea? Liver at least once in a weak.
Green Leafy Vegetables: Two servings, quarter to half cup of Spinach etc. cheese Spinach spread sandwich is good for midday snacking.
Vitamin C: Citrus fruit or fruit juices with pulp one serving. Tomatoes, Cantaloupe, etc.
Grains: I always recommend whole grains.4 servings from available source.
Take one serving of one other fruit and vegetable. Do add apple alternate days if not daily as they are rich source of iron.
Fat Servings: Although the normal cooking procedures requires fats. But it’s good to mention three servings. One tea spoon butter, oil, sour cream, mayonnaise etc. Avoid too much fatty and fried food items as they are hard to digest and gives extra calories.
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Water: Drink plenty of water along with other beverages, to keep your filter system good.
Guide for Vegetarians
if you are following a strict vegetarian diet little more consideration is required for protein intake 80-100 gram of protein should be taken daily. Too much of proteins results in low birth rates, mothers should have a level below 150 gram / day.
Iron Supply for Pregnant Women
30-60 milligram / day is advocated for pregnant women in US, should be 40 at minimum otherwise considered ANEMIC for sure. Hemoglobin as 13 is a good number for early pregnancy while 10 and below is low, causing Sickle Cell Anemia.
It’s better to take iron from animal sources as they are easily absorbed by blood but if you are a Vegan, supplements are a good option. They can cause constipation and Nausea generally;
- Supplements are taken with meals are easily absorbed
- Take them in small doses instead of a big one
- Organic source of iron is Iron Gluconate, it’s difficult to over dose.
- Man-made source is Iron Sulfate, absorbed easily by body.
- Floradix liquid is an expensing source but the absorption rate is the highest
- Nettle Tea is a cheaper source comparatively
- Blue Green Algae and Spirulina are other options.
The hemoglobin level drops rapidly in the last month as the fetus starts storing up iron in its body as reserve for future use. Very little iron supply a baby gets in early infancy from mother’s milk. It’s good to take iron rich foods a few months after child’s birth to replenish body stores and maintain good health.
Recommended Dietary Allowances RDA for an Expecting Mother
Energy: In first two trimesters body needs more of proteins, vitamins and minerals. Energy needs increases only in last trimester that is 200 k cal. daily.
Proteins: Requirements though varies according to the activity a mother performs but an extra of 6 gm daily is highly required during pregnancy.
Riboflavin: 1.4 mg / day is recommended daily to an extra amount of 0.3 mg for tissue growth.
Thiamin: A constant supply with increase of 0.1 mg daily is recommended. 0.9 mg is required under normal conditions.