Pregnancy Nutrition 101
Pregnancy is a phenomenal experience for every woman, undergoing a beautiful transformation from a carefree person to a responsible mother-to-be. Getting pregnant and delivering a healthy baby is a challenging task for newlywed couples nowadays. While our grandparents and parents had more than 3 children in those days, the trend has shifted, and now many couples plan their pregnancies more carefully. Generally, people have different mindsets: 20% of couples plan for a baby in the first month, while 80% postpone and may face complications, leading them to seek medical advice. This is a fact observed everywhere.
One aspect that concerns me is whether we are consuming nutritious food on a daily basis. Indeed, I disagree with the assumption that many fail to follow a good diet. However, due to time constraints and busy schedules, some might resort to eating whatever is available, including fast food. As both fathers and mothers often work, there may be insufficient time to cook and prioritize nutrition. This is a worrying factor as it raises questions about how well future generations will take care of their nutrition during pregnancy.
Let’s delve into what a pregnant woman should eat on a daily basis to ensure adequate nutritional intake:
1. Folic Acid
It is essential to consume folic acid regularly during pregnancy. Apart from supplements, you can find natural sources of folic acid in various foods such as vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, nuts, seafood, eggs, and poultry products.
A diet rich in iron can prevent iron deficiency anaemia during pregnancy. Foods that quickly raise iron levels include dried fruits like dates, prunes, and raisins, as well as organic green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek leaves, mint, and curry leaves.
Calcium is crucial for the strength of bones, teeth, muscle activation, and nerve signaling. A growing foetus relies on the mother to ensure sufficient calcium for its development. Good sources of calcium include milk, tofu, cheese, dairy products, calcium-fortified soya drinks and bread, chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, and peanut butter.
Consume soaked almonds in the morning along with a glass of plain milk. Additionally, have 2 to 3 dates and include figs and walnuts in your diet. However, avoid excessive consumption of nuts to prevent indigestion.
5. Incorporate Colorful Fruits Into Your Diet
While fruits are nutritious, they should be consumed with care. Pay attention to how your body reacts every time you have some fruit. You have to opt for moderate servings of fruits like bananas, strawberries, avocados, apples, pomegranates, citrus fruits, mangoes, pears, dried fruits, and grapes.
6. Embrace a Variety of Vegetables
Ensure you eat a diverse range of vegetables, including spinach, plantain stem, banana flower, and water-rich vegetables to aid digestion and obtain all essential nutrients.
7. Non-Vegetarian Options in your Diet
If you choose to consume non-vegetarian food, consider chicken, mutton, fish, and eggs as good sources of protein. There are numerous dishes you can make with these ingredients, such as chicken or mutton soup, gravies with rice or chapati, boneless pepper mutton, scrambled eggs, and fish fry or gravies with rice.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Always be aware of your diet and avoid the following during pregnancy:
Alcohol, unpasteurized dairy or juices, raw seafood, raw eggs, high-mercury fish, and raw sprouts. Avoiding these foods can help prevent sickness and complications for the baby.
It is crucial to plan a proper diet during your pregnancy, avoiding eating whatever is available. Prepare a healthy weekly diet chart and plan your shopping in advance to avoid unnecessary stress. As a pregnant woman, it is advisable to consult a dietitian once or twice to ensure you are following the right diet for a healthy baby.
About The Author:
Lakshmi Sakthi Alagappan lives in Thanjavur in Tamilnadu, India. She is an administrative officer at Blossom Public School. She likes reading books, listening to music, and surfing.