Your baby gets the nutrition they need to grow and develop from your diet when you’re pregnant. And that’s why pregnancy diets are a whole other ball game. In fact, every trimester has its own needs. A healthy diet for pregnancy focuses on macro and micronutrients, and a small list of foods to stay away from in order to support the baby’s growth. Always take the guidance of a specialist to monitor your diet and health for your baby’s nurturing.
TC46 connected with Dr Neha Karve, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai. The expert talks about the importance of the right kind of nutrition during pregnancy and shares a recommendation of diet dos and don’ts during the first trimester. These foods will help you and your baby stay healthy.
1. A pregnant woman needs to have a nutrient-rich diet
During the first trimester, a woman should ideally have all nutrients. But following are some essentials which one must not miss while pregnant for the baby’s overall growth and development.
- 400 mcg of folic acid: It is crucial to prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) of the foetus. The kind of NTDs which may arise from a lack of folic acid include Spina Bifida, where the spinal cord fails to develop since the neural tube doesn’t close completely. Few studies also suggest the nutrient can prevent heart defects and clefts.
- 27 mg of iron: It is necessary to prevent anaemia, premature birth and even low birth weight
- 500 mg calcium: It is for the baby’s bone development and maintaining the mother’s bone density.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: It is important for the brain growth of the foetus.
- Iodine: It is vital for the baby’s nervous system to develop.
2. Your total calorie intake should be 1,800kcals in the first trimester
The mommy-to-be should focus on consuming healthy and nutritious food. During the first trimester, additional calories aren’t required as such. Thus, for an average weight pregnant woman with no complications related to obesity or being under-weight, the total calorie intake should be 1,800 in the first trimester. From the second trimester, one should up their calorie intake by 300 to 350.
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3. 6 food options your should consider including in your first trimester diet when you’re pregnant
Eat fish rich in omega-3 and low in mercury, such as salmon, herring, sardine, freshwater trout and tilapia. Fish is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, including Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), which help develop the foetus’s brain and eyes.
2. Dry Fruits, Nuts & Seeds
You can also have walnuts, soybeans (edamame, healthy plant-based protein), and sunflower seeds as these are good sources of omega-3.
3. Green Vegetables
As always, include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli. These are all highly nutritious and excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and folate. They also reduce constipation in pregnancy and are essential for both the baby and the mother.
A perfect source of protein & fat, you can cook them in any way you want. Eggs usually have the nutrient choline, which averts any congenital abnormality related to the brain and spine in the baby.
5. Dairy Products
Dairy products such as yoghurt are perfect for digestive health. Milk is highly nourishing because of calcium’s presence, and this nutrient is necessary for bone health.
6. Lean Meat
Lean meat is rich in vitamin B, choline, iron, and is an excellent source of high-quality protein. The additional nutrients in them are all crucial for pregnancy, as mentioned previously.
4. Food products that can help with morning sickness and nausea
Morning sickness and nausea can be pretty hard to deal with, but they often happen during pregnancy. Here are some food products which can help with the uneasiness:
- Lemon: You can lick a slice directly or mix a few drops in lukewarm water. Its smell and taste help calm the nauseousness.
- Ginger: Take it in any form, like candy, crystallised or ginger tea, soda, helps lessen the nauseating feeling
- Cold Food: Foods such as ice cream, gelato, chilled fruits with a pleasing aroma may help.
- Snacks: It is known that staying on an empty stomach only worsens your morning sickness. Hence, munching on salty crackers, snacks can keep your illness away.
- Herbal Teas: Take teas of pregnancy-safe flavours, such as peppermint, chamomile, lemon or peach tea, which can also help feel at ease and keep one hydrated.
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5. Foods you should avoid during pregnancy
- Caffeine: Pregnant women should limit or completely reduce their caffeine intake to 200mg or less. High amounts of caffeine may lead to low birth weight and restrict foetal development.
- Uncooked meat & fish: Avoid raw, uncooked meat and fish. Undercooked or raw meat, eggs and fish can cause bacterial or parasitic infections, which increases the child’s risk of epilepsy, stillbirth, neurological, and intellectual disabilities. Some of the conditions can also prove to be fatal for the baby.
- Fish with excessive mercury: Mercury is a toxic substance, hence don’t consume mercury-rich fish like sharks, swordfish, tuna and more.
- Unpasteurised milk: Do not have unpasteurised milk and its products. There are high possibilities of bacterial infections, which can be lethal for the unborn baby.
- Alcohol: Alcohol consumption is a strict no. It can cause stillbirth, neurological defects in the baby.
- Junk food: Lastly, avoid unnecessary junk food with excess amounts of sugar, calories, and fats.
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6. Healthy eating tips for new mothers
While pregnant, a woman is eating for the development and wellbeing of two individuals. Thus, it is essential to have many green, leafy vegetables, fruits rich in good nutrients. It is best to avoid saturated fats and excess sugar, which can be responsible for unnecessary weight gain and diabetes. It is also important to have your meals on time and stay hydrated all the time.
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7. Essential supplements to add to your diet
A few of the essential supplements to add are 400 mcg folic acids, 150 mcg iodine, iron (from lean meat, capsicum, kiwi, orange, poultry, tofu), 500 mg to 1000 mg calcium. These supplements are vital as they promote the foetal development and wellbeing of the woman.
8. Exercises for pregnant women to maintain their health
- Brisk walking for at least thirty minutes
- Low-impact aerobics
- Swimming and water workouts are relaxing during pregnancy (the water supports the weight of the baby and reduces back pain)
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