Pregnancy, the most important phase in a woman’s life causes several physical, emotional and psychological changes in a woman’s body. Diet for a pregnant woman needs to be well planned so that it comprises all the essential nutrients that are required at the time of pregnancy.
A healthy diet is very important as it will give your baby the best possible start in life. The ideal diet is a well balanced diet that will take care of your pregnancy needs as well as the needs of the baby. Good nutrition at the time of pregnancy enables you to stay energetic and healthy, and prepares you for taking care of your new born baby as well as the rest of the family after the delivery. The different stages of pregnancy demands different kinds of foods.
Foods for Pregnancy Different Stages
First Stage Diet
The first stage of pregnancy is the first 14 months or till three and a half months during which the expectant mother can experience morning sickness, enlarged breasts and other issues. It is important that you get enough minerals, nutrients and vitamins at this stage. A folate supplement is a must during these weeks.
Take care to include a lot of folic acid in your diet. It is very important for the formation of the developing baby as well as for the production of red blood cells in your body. During pregnancy the number of red blood cells in the body increases and this increases the requirement of folic acid.
Folic acid, also known as Folate is rich in vitamin B. It is found in orange juice and green leafy vegetables. It helps prevent the child from a host of serious abnormalities of the spine and brain. Lack of this supplement leads to underdeveloped brain, inadequate growth of the foetus, preterm delivery, incomplete closure of spinal cord and low birth weight.
Second Stage Diet
The second stage of pregnancy continues till the end of the seventh month. It is at this stage that your pregnancy becomes noticeable. Your stomach starts to expand and you may feel your baby moving in the womb. Continue to maintain a nutritious diet with a lot of fibre. Keep in mind to increase your intake of iron at this stage. The iron that your baby gets now will last through at least till six months after birth.
The iron in our blood helps to carry the oxygen to the blood cells. At the time of pregnancy women have a lot of blood in their body and this blood requires more iron. Also at this time the baby’s cells require oxygen. This demand for extra oxygen is fulfilled by iron.
Deficiency of iron can lead to anaemia. This can result in low weight baby or preterm delivery. Low iron could also lead to your child being anaemic. Deficiency of iron can be taken care of by including potatoes, beans, shellfish and cereals in your diet.
For building hormones, tissues, antibodies and enzymes for both mother and child, it is important to have a diet rich in proteins. Nuts, legumes and meat are good sources of proteins. For vegetarian mothers, milk and nuts are good sources of proteins. Whole grain foods such as bread, pasta, rice and cereals contain minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and folic acid. These are very important for both the mother and baby. Adequate salt should also be included in your diet to help retain the blood volume.
Third Stage Diet
The third stage begins from the seventh month till the time the baby is born. At this stage you will need to increase your intake of calcium. Your baby is developing bones and if it doesn’t find it from your diet it will start taking it from your bones. This can make the bones weak and fragile. Including plenty of dairy products in your diet will help you overcome calcium deficiency.
Drink Adequate Water
It is recommended that you increase your fluid intake during your pregnancy. Aim to drink at least six glasses of water every day. This will help prevent constipation which is a common thing during pregnancy.
Water and fruit juices are better than tea, coffee and soft drinks for a pregnant lady. Fizzy drinks have a high calorie and sugar content and can increase chances of heartburn, another common problem in pregnancy.
Take More Calories
When a woman becomes pregnant, her diet needs to undergo a change because she is now eating not just for herself but for the baby that is growing in her womb. If you do not nourish yourself properly during pregnancy there are chances of developing long term issues such as congenital anomalies, weak immune system, lower IQ and low weight. The recommendation for expectant mothers is to consume only 300 more calories than they would eat if they were not pregnant.
Decrease Milk Consumption
Decrease the consumption of milk. If a pregnant woman drinks a lot of milk she will be more susceptible to gestational diabetes.
Maintain Your Weight
It is very important to keep a watch on your weight during pregnancy. The excess pounds can lead to serious health complications for you and your baby. Have a diet schedule and stick to the timings that you set for yourself. There are some nutritional requirements that will develop when you become pregnant. Your child will require consistent nutrition in order to develop fully. While your appetite would increase at the time of pregnancy you must be careful about the “fill-in” food items that you eat. A bowl of salad or a piece of fruit is better for you than snacking on a piece of pastry.
It is imperative that you talk to your doctor and follow their advice as regards your diet. It is required that your diet has variety in order to ensure wholesome nutrition for both of you. Keep in mind that pregnancy is the time that most women tend to put on weight. Take care to eat right so that you do not gain unnecessary weight. With these tips in mind, get ready to enjoy the most precious time of your life.