Pregnancy is one of the most important and sensitive phases of a woman’s life. During pregnancy, the baby depends on the mother to provide it with the nutrients that it needs to grow and develop. It is therefore important that women who are expecting should eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
For this reason, it is important to follow a general healthy diet while expecting. The diet of a pregnant woman should include a variety of foods from each food group. According to The Eatwell Guide, the nutrients and beverages we consume can be segregated into 5 main groups – fruit and vegetables; potatoes, rice, bread, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates; beans, eggs, pulses, meat, fish and other proteins; dairy and alternatives and oils & spreads.
Ensure that your refrigerator is stocked with these food items. And when you shop for these groceries online, you can not only save big with jaw-dropping discounts, but also have them delivered at your doorstep in a jiffy.
Calcium, Iron, Folate and DHA
During pregnancy, women have increased requirements of calcium, iron and folate in their body. For this reason, a daily prenatal vitamin is advised.
Folic acid or folate is a type of B vitamin that the body cells require for healthy growth and development. Taking it before and during pregnancy can help prevent brain and spine birth defects. 600 micrograms of folic acid are required during pregnancy every day.
Iron is required by the body to make hemoglobin and carry oxygen to the rest of the body from the lungs. During pregnancy, twice as much iron is required than before. Lack of sufficient iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia, exhaustion, having a premature baby and having a low-birthweight baby. 27 milligrams of iron are required during pregnancy000 milligrams of calcium are required during pregnancy every day.
It is also recommended to take a DHA supplement containing at least 200 milligrams per day. DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is an essential Omega-3 fat which has been linked to brain growth and development.
Adequate Water Consumption
Adequate hydration is key during pregnancy. Women who are expecting should drink at least 8-12 glasses a day. Water helps the body absorb essential nutrients & vitamins and transports them to the blood cells and the placenta. It also helps prevent UTIs, constipation and hemorrhoids.
If a woman is dehydrated during pregnancy, it can lead to serious pregnancy complications like low amniotic fluid, premature labor and insufficient breast milk production.
Caloric intake during pregnancy
Expecting mothers don’t need any additional calories in the first trimester. The focus should just be on consuming a healthy and balanced diet. In the second trimester, the daily caloric intake should be increased by 300 to 350 calories. And in the third trimester, an extra 500 calories need to be consumed every day.
It’s important to note that, the above-mentioned values are for women whose BMI is in the normal or average range. Women who are underweight will need to consume more calories than those mentioned above, while women who are overweight will need to consume less.
What not to eat during pregnancy
There are a few foods that are not recommended to consume during pregnancy.
Mercury is a highly toxic substance, that, if consumed in large quantity is toxic to the immune system, nervous system and kidneys. Pregnant women should not consume fish that’s high in mercury more than 1–2 times per month. King mackerel, shark, swordfish, ahi tuna, and bigeye tuna contain high levels of mercury.
Undercooked or Raw Fish:
Fish should never be consumed raw during pregnancy. Raw fish can cause various viral, bacterial or parasitic infections in pregnant women which can be passed on to the baby through the placenta.
Undercooked, Raw and Processed Meat:
Raw or undercooked meat may contain harmful bacteria which can be harmful for the unborn baby. It can result in the child being stillborn or lead to severe neurological illnesses, like blindness, learning disability, mental retardation and epilepsy. Therefore, women who are expecting should consume processed meat only when it’s been reheated until steaming hot.
Raw eggs can be adulterated with Salmonella which can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramps in the mother. Therefore, foods like Poached eggs, Salad dressings, Hollandaise sauce and Cake icings should not be consumed during pregnancy.
Beverages like coffee, tea, soft drinks and cocoa contain caffeine. Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. Consumption of caffeine in high quantity can restrict fetal growth and lead to low birth weight.
Raw sprouts, including lentil, soybean, mung bean, black bean, kidney bean, green pea, radish, broccoli and beet, may be infected with Salmonella and E. coli. Hence, pregnant women should eat cooked sprouts only.
Unpasteurized Milk, Cheese and Fruit Juice:
Pregnant women should not consume unpasteurized juices, milk and soft cheeses since they are prone to bacterial contamination. This can cause life-threatening consequences for the baby.
Pregnant women should completely avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol, even in small quantities, can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, facial deformities, heart defects and intellectual disability.
Swati is a Senior Content Writer at Khojdeal. Her areas of interest include Books, Movies, Music, Events, Fashion, Fun Facts, and Entertainment. From the latest celebrity looks to trends hot from the runway, her writing style is sure to engage the readers in an eloquent way.