Pregnancy is one of the most crucial time in a woman’s life. Giving birth to a baby needs special preparations and it is vital that mother takes care of her nutrition and health as that has a direct bearing on the child’s development. Simple things like planning your meals may help in the foetus development while giving you energy throughout the day.
What is the calorie requirement during pregnancy and lactation?
The calorie requirement for a pregnant woman ranges between 2200 calorie to 2900 calorie ( depending on height, weight and activity undertaken). The first three months of pregnancy doesn’t require extra calories. During 4-6 months of pregnancy additional 340 calorie a day should be added. In the last 3 months another 120 calories ( 340 + 120 cals) should be added. It is highly recommended that these additional calories come from cereals, fruits and vegetables and proteins.
Does Pregnant lady need other nutrients? If yes, what are those nutrients?
Yes, apart from the calories, there is increase in daily requirement of various nutrients. The most common deficiencies that need to taken care of are of folic acid, calcium and omega -3 fatty acids.
Folic Acid: Folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects that affect the spinal cord. Pregnant women need 600 micrograms of folic acid a day. Sources include fortified foods like cereals, pastas and breads, supplements and natural food sources of folate.
Iron: Maternal iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency during pregnancy. Pregnant women need at least 27 milligrams of iron a day. High-iron foods include spinach, kale, leafy greens, beans, fortified cereals, red meat, chicken and fish. For vegetarians and women who do not eat a lot of meat, increase iron absorption by combining plant-based sources of iron with vitamin C-rich foods. For example, try spinach salad with mandarin oranges or cereal with strawberries.
Calcium: During pregnancy, calcium is needed for the healthy development of a baby’s teeth, bones, heart, nerves and muscles. When a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, it is taken from her bones for the baby. It is important to consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day before, during and after pregnancy. That means at least three daily servings of calcium-rich foods such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese or calcium-fortified cereals and juices.
Omega 3 fatty acids: Increase blood flow to reproductive organs and may help regulate reproductive hormones. Consumption is also known to help prevent premature delivery and low birth weight.The best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids is oily fish. Other omega-3 fatty acids not found in fish can be found in foods such as flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and enriched eggs.
Through these simple guidelines a pregnant woman may enrich her diet for a happy and energetic pregnancy term.