Did you know that diet plays a major role in baby’s growth and development? The principles of healthy eating are the same during preconception period as well as pregnancy; the amount depends on your height, weight, physical activity and due date. The focus should be plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. The important nutrients needed for a healthy maternal and fetal outcome are folic acid, iron, calcium, Vitamin D and protein.
- We need to supplement minimum 400 microgram folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine called neural tube defects.
- Dietary sources are fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans and peas.
- Iron requirement also increases during pregnancy to keep up the growing need of oxygen for the baby. 27 mg is the recommended daily requirement. Iron absorption increases if foods are rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
- Calcium needs also enhance due to growing fetus for its bones and teeth. Minimum daily requirement is one gram daily and its rich sources are dairy products, broccoli, dark leafy greens and breakfast cereals.
- The proteins are the building blocks for weight gain for baby and mother, maintaining muscle strength. So you need to take supplements to fulfil the demands.
- Vitamin D with calcium helps the baby’s bones and teeth to develop. It is also responsible for healthy skin and eyesight. It can be obtained from sunlight, fatty fish (salmon), fortified milk and orange juice.
In Pregnancy – Gain the right Weight:
The right approach to nutritional needs leads to adequate weight gain, which also depends on your body mass index (BMI) in pre pregnancy period. Obesity in pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, premature delivery, and Caesarean Section. Oils and fats are needed to provide energy and help build fetal organs and the placenta. Caffeine consumption should be limited to 200 mg a day. Recent research suggests that intake of Omega 3 fatty acids enhances baby’s brain development both before and after birth. Some fishes to be avoided are those that contain high levels of mercury.