By Dr. Manjusha Goel
During pregnancy, women need to take extra care of the nutrients they are consuming. The type of food they intake will define the development and health of both the baby and their own health. While the mother’s body is going through some significant changes it is important to provide it with the essential nutrients to support the growth.
Some of the nutrients important for women and the baby during pregnancy include:
Folate, or folic acid in its synthetic version, is essential in the early stages of pregnancy. It helps to construct your baby’s neural tube, which eventually grows into the brain and spinal cord. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes, and fortified grains are all good sources of folate.
Iron is crucial for the production of hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen to the cells of the mother and child. As the blood volume grows during pregnancy, iron consumption becomes even more important. Iron-rich foods to include in the daily diet include lean meats, poultry, fish, fortified cereals, and dark green leafy vegetables. Combining these meals with sources of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, helps in iron absorption.
Calcium is necessary for the baby’s bone and tooth growth. If women do not take enough calcium during pregnancy, the baby will start fulfilling the need by absorbing it from the mother’s bone. Therefore, it is important to take enough calcium during this crucial time. This mineral is abundant in dairy products, fortified plant-based milk, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-enriched meals.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are essential for the baby’s brain and eye development. Include fatty fish in the diet, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. If the mother is vegetarian or has dietary limitations, it is recommended to talk to the doctor about algae-derived DHA supplements.
Protein is required for the cell and tissue growth and development of the child. It is recommended to consume lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts. To reduce the consumption of saturated fat, it is recommended to choose lean sources.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, promoting good bone growth for both you and your baby. Get enough sunshine, eat fortified meals, and consider vitamin D pills if necessary. For personalized advice, one must speak with your healthcare practitioner.
Apart from that, there are certain lifestyle tips women can incorporate during pregnancy. These include:
Even if women are consuming a balanced diet during pregnancy, one may be deficient in some nutrients. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin can help address any gaps, ideally starting at least three months before conception. Some herbal supplements may be dangerous during pregnancy. Therefore, it is recommended to consult a doctor before consuming these supplements.
One must also maintain proper hydration during pregnancy. Water promotes appropriate digestion, circulation, and nutrition transmission to you and your baby. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water each day, or more if you are physically active or live in a hot region. Fruits, vegetables, and herbal teas can also provide hydration.
- Avoid smoking and drinking
It is also wise to avoid dangerous drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes. Cigarettes contain numerous harmful chemicals, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. When a pregnant woman smokes, these toxic substances enter her bloodstream and can reach the developing baby through the placenta. Additionally, alcohol consumption increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. It can also lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and complications during delivery. Therefore, these habits must be avoided.
(The author is a Lead Consultant – Obstetrics & Gynecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)