Nutrition during pregnancy is of prime importance due to the special needs associated with the physiological changes. The nutritional requirements increase tremendously during pregnancy as the mother has to nourish not only herself but also the growing foetus or infant. The Basal Metabolic Rate i.e. BMR increases by 5% in the first trimester and may reach upto 12% by the last stages of pregnancy.
Some of the essential nutrients required by a pregnant woman are as follows:
- Calcium– The calcium needs during pregnancy increases to 1200mg/day. It is required for the growth and development of the bones as well as calcification of foetal bones and teeth. It is found in milk and milk products like yogurt, cheese, cream, cottage cheese, khoa, etc. while for those who are lactose intolerant can get their calcium from ragi, gingelly seeds, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, figs, dry dates, colocasia leaves, fenugreek leaves, amaranth, etc.
- Folic Acid- It is required to protect against megalomaniac anemia, for healthy formation of red blood cells and minimize the risk of neural tube defects. 500 micro grams of folic acid per day is required during pregnancy. Asparagus, avocado, papaya, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, okra, cauliflower, bell peppers, beans and lentils are all rich food sources of folic acid.
- Iron- Low levels of iron in early pregnancy have been associated with premature birth and low birth weight infants. The RDA for iron increases from 21mg to 35mg/day during pregnancy. Iron from non-vegetarians foods is better absorbed as compared to vegetarian sources. Few foods rich in iron include- jaggery, groundnuts, leafy green vegetables, legumes, chicken ,fish, eggs, red meats.
- Protein- It is necessary for the growth of fetus, development of placenta and enlargement of maternal blood tissues. The total RDA of 78 g/day is required during pregnancy. Eggs, chicken, fish, meat, seafood, legumes, soy bean,pulses, dairy products, nuts and seeds are some foods sources of protein.
- Fibre- Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy due to increased foetal pressure, hence higher amounts of dietary fibre is necessary. Large quantities of whole grains, whole pulses and cereals, oats, along with fresh fruits and vegetables should be added in the diet.
Also adequate amount of fluid intake needs to maintained to avoid constipation.
An Article by Dt. Deepanshi Malhotra