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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Article Home Women's Health Nutrition in Pregnancy

Nutrition in Pregnancy

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Nutrition is an extremely important point of focus for a pregnant woman


This is an extremely important point of focus for a pregnant woman, especially in a developing country like India. The diet of a pregnant woman has to serve the needs of both the mother and baby in the womb.


The WHO advises that it is best to totally avoid smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy as they can lead to complications like Fetal alcohol syndrome, mental retardation and IUGR [Intra uterine Growth Retardation].

It is important for a pregnant woman to understand how her diet in each different trimester will affect the baby. The needs of your fetus in each trimester are different and you should understand that you need to modify your diet accordingly.


The first trimester (First 12weeks)

In the first trimester weight gain is not very important. Do not worry yourself over not gaining weight in the first three months. In doubt ask your doctor. You might gain weight marginally in the first trimester and this is good enough.

Facts

  • Getting a good diet is more important when you are trying to get pregnant or just before you get pregnant than once you get pregnant [for the first trimester only].
  • Supplements of folic acid 400 micrograms per day are essential when you are planning for a pregnancy and for the first trimester once you confirm you are pregnant. This helps to prevent NTD [neural tube defects] in the new born. NTD are defects in the formation of the spinal column or nervous system of the baby.
  • Your energy requirements increase by 100kcals per day now- that’s an extra cup of milk, one banana and a slice of bread.
  • Supplements of iron should also be taken. If you have already started on calcium and multivitamin supplements you can continue them. Some multivitamin pills may aggravate nausea; if you have any such problems stop these during the first trimester.
  • A pregnant woman normally  gains 2 kg’s during first 12 weeks[first trimester]
  • Women who have severe hyper emesis gravidarum [excessive vomiting in the first trimester of pregnancy]   are unlikely to gain any weight or may even loose a little weight.

The second trimester (13-28 weeks):

From this trimester you need to be very careful about your diet. Your baby will need adequate nutrition as this is the time when growth will be the fast.

Facts

  • Gaining weight in this trimester is very important.
  • Eat well and make sure you get a varied and good mixed diet.
  • You need an additional 300Kcal of energy per day.
  • Your protein requirement is also greater about 5-6 grams extra per day.
  • If you continue to have nausea/ vomiting in this trimester you should see your doctor for appropriate treatment.
  • Not eating now can affect the health of your baby adversely. It affects not just the birth weight; it predisposes the baby to many diseases in later life.
  • You can take your iron, calcium and vitamin supplements. Folic acid is not necessary.
  • Normal weight gain during this period is about 5 kgs.

The third trimester (28-40weeks)

Adequate nutrition in the third trimester is very important as this is the period of fastest growth. The baby stocks up on reserves for the period after birth.


  • Keep a strong focus on your diet and make sure you get a varied and good mixed diet. It is very important for you to eat well in this trimester
  • Your protein requirement is also greater about 5-6 grams extra per day.
  • You need an additional 300Kcal of energy per day.
  • You can take your iron, calcium and vitamin supplements.
  • Normal weight gain during this period is about 5 kg’s
  • Improper or inadequate diet can result in the baby being born underweight and also predispose the baby to degenerative diseases or other major health problems in later life.
  • If you notice anything abnormal in your weight gain or have any doubts always consult your doctor immediately.

 

 

List of Vegetables, fruits and grains that are good for you during pregnancy.


Vegetables:


  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Cooked greens (fresh green leafy vegetables)
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauces
  • Red sweet pepper


Fruits:

 

  • melon
  • Mangoes
  • Bananas
  • Apricots
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Apples


Milk group:

 

  • Fat-free or low-fat curds
  • Fat-free milk (skim milk)
  • Low-fat milk (1% milk)


Grain group:

 

  • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
  • Fortified cooked cereals
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat flour[ rotis/chapattis]


Meat and Beans Group:

 

  • Cooked dry beans and peas (such as soybeans, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas)
  • Nuts and seeds (such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, peanuts,)
  • Poultry and mutton
  • Shrimp, oysters, and crab
  • Sear fish, pomp fret, mackerel.