During pregnancy, the health and well being of the mother has a direct impact on the baby that is growing within herself. The diet of a pregnant woman, in particular, plays a crucial role in ensuring that the baby gets all the vital nutrients for their growth and development. In this article, we will discuss the diet for both a pregnant as well as a lactating mother so that both the mother and the baby enjoy a good and healthy life.
Diet for a Pregnant Woman
With each passing day, the baby within you is growing. Accordingly, the nutritional requirement also changes. Some of the nutrients that should be consumed more during pregnancy include
- Proteins: Protein is a powerhouse that is essential for the overall growth and development of the vital organs of the body including the brain. Eggs, poultry, meat, tofu, peas, fish, nuts are healthy sources of protein and should be included in the diet during pregnancy.
- Folic Acid: Folic acid goes a long way to minimise the incidence of neural tube defects (congenital spine and brain defects). During pregnancy, a woman should take at least 600 micrograms of folic acid daily. Foods rich in folic acid include fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, avocados.
- Iron: Many women tend to suffer from iron deficiency and anemia during pregnancy which can have a negative impact on the baby (infant mortality, low birth weight). The daily iron requirement for a pregnant woman is about 27 milligrams. Thus, foods such as iron-fortified cereals and grains, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables, egg yolk should be taken more during pregnancy.
- Calcium: The importance of calcium for the bone health is known to all. For a pregnant woman (19 years and above), the daily calcium requirement is about 1,000 milligrams (1,300 mg per day for pregnant women who are 18 years or below). The foods that are rich in calcium include milk, dried figs, dates, almonds, oatmeal, orange, kale.
- Sweet potatoes, legumes, dairy products, fish liver oil, lean meat (especially pork, beef), berries, whole grains, are considered healthy during pregnancy.
Pregnancy does not mean one should overeat. Eat only when you are hungry. Overeating can result in acid reflux and heartburns.
Diet for Lactating Mothers
Like pregnancy, women who are into breastfeeding should be careful with their diet. Enrich the diet with foods rich in Iron, calcium, proteins, and vitamins.
- Oatmeal, garlic, fennel, ginger, cookies, nuts, sesame seeds can work wonders to increase the lactation.
- Drink water, fresh fruit juice, soup, to keep the body hydrated.
There are also foods that are best left avoided for lactating mothers-
- Many babies develop allergic reactions (constipation, wheezing, eczema, vomiting, diarrhea) to dairy products. Thus, lactating mothers with such babies should avoid dairy products.
- Having chocolates in excess can have a laxative effect on the baby.
- Fish with high mercury content should be avoided.
- Processed foods and alcohol (avoid drinking at least 2-3 hours before breastfeeding the baby) are a big No if you are into breastfeeding.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!