A nutritional checklist for expecting mothers

Good nutrition is essential to ensure that a mother’s body can provide all the nourishment an unborn baby requires to develop and grow.

By Deepti Tiwari

Pregnancy is a very important period. It is the time to think about your lifestyle, habits and diet and how they affect you and your baby.

For moms-to-be and new moms

Pregnancy and lactation place extra demands on your body. To meet these demands, you need to think about what is best to eat and drink. Good nutrition in pregnancy helps you stay healthy and energetic and prepares you to take care of yourself, your baby and the rest of the family.

For Your Baby

The baby receives all the nutrition you receive. Thus, the best way of giving your baby a healthy diet is for you to eat a healthy diet.

Always think how much good a particular food item does to your body before consuming it.

Remember to include these important nutrients:

To increase your protein intake, try and include chicken, fish, lentils, milk and milk products (three to four servings in your daily diet).

Folic acid is very important, so include two to three servings of green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts in your diet. Take your supplements regularly, if recommended by your doctor.

Include iron in the form of green leafy vegetables, dry fruits, legumes, roasted bengal gram, eggs, meat, fish, and poultry in the diet.

Vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron from food and keeps your immune system in shape. It also plays a part in helping the placenta to develop and work properly.

Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D will help your baby grow strong bones and teeth. Good sources are milk, milk products, soybean, lentils, green leafy vegetables, etc.

Omega-3 oils are vital for your baby’s brain development. So include walnuts almonds, avocado or fish in your diet.

Probiotics help in better digestion and preventing vaginal infection to some extent.

Vitamin K is an important vitamin, so include broccoli, green leafy vegetables, prunes, etc.

Fluids and fibres help you deal with constipation, which is a common problem at this stage. So, drink lots of water, decaffeinated drinks, juices or soups, and eat plenty of fibre-rich foods.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Avoid unpasteurised milk, including goat milk and foods made of unpasteurised milks. Even if soft cheese is pasteurised, hard cheese is always safer.

Avoid raw or under cooked meat, eggs, fish or seafood.

Avoid unpasteurised fruit or vegetable juices. Unpasteurised juice must be boiled (full rolling boil) for at least a minute.

Avoid raw or undercooked sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, moong bean and radish. Cooked sprouts are always better.

Do not open bulging cans. Boil home-canned foods for 20 minutes.

Pay attention to food recalls. This is not the time to gamble.

Caffeine and energy drinks

Caffeine crosses the placenta and increases maternal catecholamines, but it appears that intake of less than 200 mg/day is not associated with increased risk of miscarriages or preterm birth. Caffeinated beverages are not considered to be of high nutritional quality and moderation is encouraged.

Energy drinks are not recommended during pregnancy. In addition to the high caffeine and sugar content they contain, these drinks often have high levels of added nutrients and herbal products that have not been evaluated for safety during pregnancy.

(The writer is Clinical Nutritionist, CK Birla Hospital for Women.)

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