NUTRITION IN PREGNANCY
Dr Sushma Pachouri
Nutrition in Pregnancy “Pregnancy” is the most important period in a woman’s reproductive life. It is a state in which a woman carries a fertilized egg inside her womb .A period which affects the mental, emotional, and physical state of a woman. A period when she needs more attention, care, and love because everything is changing within her and she is going to give birth to a new life. Proper nutrition during pregnancy plays an important role for delivering a healthy baby along with ensuring the health of the mother. During pregnancy, eating healthy food is more important than ever. You need more of protein, iron, calcium, folic acid, and other micro nutrients. Therefore, a sensible and balanced diet, replete with all vital nutrients, is paramount for a pregnant women and her baby. The food should be packed with all the micro and macro nutrients – not empty calories such as those found in soft drinks, desserts, and candies etc. An inadequate or excessive amount of some nutrients may cause malformation or medical problems in the foetus, so the diet should be an adequately balanced one. Diet containing folic acid – fruits and dark green leafy vegetables (excluding citrus fruits) helps to prevent neural tube birth defects in the foetus. In addition to wholesome food, supplements like folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and calcium, are also given to the pregnant lady. Micronutrients during pregnancy Food containing zinc should be included in the diet of an expectant mother. Foods such as sprouts of various types contain zinc in adequate amounts. This helps in reducing the chances of preterm birth. Another important micro nutrient is calcium which helps in the development of bones in the baby. Macronutrients during pregnancy Proteins are the building blocks of the body and of your baby’s body as well. The protein requirement for a pregnant woman can range from as little as 40 gram to as much as 70 grams per day, depending upon how much she weighs. Beans, egg, milk, shellfish, fish, meat, poultry, cheese, tofu, and yogurt should be included in the expectant mother’s diet. Carbohydrates are another essential macronutrient which is needed during pregnancy . Complex carbs are the best source of energy during pregnancy . One should eat a good amount of fibre everyday to keep the digestive system healthy. This is especially important during pregnancy when constipation can be a problem. Another macronutrient that plays an important role is fat. Unsaturated fats provide vital nutrients to sustain the body’s heat, and maintain healthy immune system, brain, eyes, etc. Monounsaturated fats are also known to protect your body against birth defects. Nuts, Almonds, avocado, and foods containing Omega 3 should be included in the mother’s diet. The category of fats that are ‘bad’ and need to be avoided during pregnancy are the Trans fats. The bottom line is that a nutritious, well balanced eating plan can be one of the greatest gifts you give to your developing baby.