Pregnancy is a very special time during every woman’s life. During this period, your body nurtures an embryo inside you and of course, you require special attention towards nutritional requirements during pregnancy to cope with the physical as well as mental changes that happen to you.
Needless to say, we have noticed that people have countless questions regarding pregnancy and nutrients. For an expecting mother, to maintain a healthy pregnancy, approximately 300 extra calories should be consumed each day. To answer all your queries and give you some tips for a healthy pregnancy, we have decided to include some points in this article just for you! Now, let’s get started.
Most important nutritional needs during pregnancy
For a happy and healthy pregnancy, you must keep in mind the “big five” nutrients before you plan a diet to meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy. Pregnancy nutrition is not just about knowing what food to avoid, but also about knowing what to eat, how much to eat and how to take proper care of your body. To ensure that you have no difficulties in delivering a healthy baby, have a look at some essential nutrients that must be included in your meal plan:
During the first trimester of pregnancy, no nutrient is more important than folic acid for the expecting mother. This can reduce chances of neural-tube defects, such as spina bifida, by a huge percentage. Folic acid is found in green, leafy vegetables like spinach, which has a higher percentage of folic acid than others.
For the first four weeks, your body needs 600 mg daily intake of folate or folic acid to meet the nutritional requirements during pregnancy. Folate is the synthetic form of folic acid that is found in food products and is not easily absorbed by the body as folic acid. You can have a folic acid tablet every day to ensure your body is getting this essential nutrient. If your gynaecologist has already prescribed you a pre-natal vitamin tablet, then folic acid is already one of its ingredients, so you don’t need to worry about it.
Calcium is a must for the nutrition of the mother as well as for proper growth and development of the baby. Calcium helps in teeth and bone development, and it is needed for proper neural reflexes, helps in muscle functioning. Around 1200 mg of Calcium should be included in your daily diet. You can get this from dairy products like milk, soy products etc. Thus, calcium plays an important part in pregnancy nutrition.
Nurturing a baby means you need to have enough blood volume to supply to food to the growing fetus. Iron is needed for exactly that reason. You can have dates as they have abundant iron so that you won’t suffer from anaemia during pregnancy.
Zinc is an essential nutritional requirement for pregnancy because its deficiency can cause birth defects in the baby. Premature delivery, restricted fetal growth, etc. are just some of the problems caused due to zinc deficiency during pregnancy. You can have 15 mg of zinc per day from seafood and meat.
Fibres are essential for any person but it is a principal requirement for expecting moms. Fibres are one of the most important components of a balanced diet that you can obtain from fresh fruits and vegetables. You need 25-35 mg of fibres a day to combat chances of constipation—a problem that commonly plagues many pregnant women.
Limit your intake of processed food and food with pesticides
When you’re nurturing a body inside you, it is important to keep in mind that the food you eat does not carry any foreign chemicals that might harm your baby and even worse, cause a miscarriage. Refrain from having fast food because the ingredients those burger shops use can be adulterated and might contain certain preservatives that aren’t suitable for expecting mothers. You need to consume as little processed food as possible.
Avoid vegetables that are artificially dyed, don’t have food with too much food-colouring and avoid food with pesticides. You need to give your body mostly those vegetables that are grown organically—sure, they are a little expensive but can save your baby’s life and ensure a healthy delivery.
Role of Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for any person, but more for pregnant women. If you have a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, it can boost your baby’s neurological and brain development, possibly leading to better vision, memory, and coordination during his early childhood. It can also reduce your risks of postpartum depression.
You need to have two servings of fish in a week to get your requirement of Omega-3 fatty acids. Besides that, your gynaecologist might prescribe you to take cod-liver oil capsules for better intake of Vitamin A and Omega-3. Hence, this becomes an important tip on pregnancy nutrition that you must keep in mind.
Always keep your hydration levels up
Besides looking upon the nutritional needs during pregnancy, you should also keep an eye on your liquid intake too. Dehydration can cause multifarious problems for both you and your baby. Staying hydrated during pregnancy is extremely important because a lot of your liquid intake drains from your blood to the tissues. Hydration is also important for preventing pre-term labour pain.
When you’re lacking enough fluid levels, your body releases hormones like oxytocin that cause involuntary muscle contractions, thereby inducing labour pain. To prevent these, make sure you drink enough water besides being concerned with pregnancy and nutrients.
What do the sudden food cravings actually mean?
A big question related to pregnancy and nutrients on any expecting mom’s mind—how to deal with pregnancy cravings? It is very common for pregnant women to develop a sudden urge for a particular food during pregnancy. Some usual cravings that have been observed by doctors are for sweets, pickles, salty foods, red meat or some snacks like French fries, pizzas etc.
But do you know that, often, a craving is your body’s way of saying it needs a specific nutrient? It is equivalent to a body signalling for more protein and additional liquids to quench a thirst.
So, you can simply avoid pregnancy cravings by following a particular diet plan that you can easily make with the pregnancy nutrition tips that we have given here. If you liked this article, share it with expecting mothers and people who could benefit from this. We hope we could clarify all your doubts on nutritional needs during pregnancy. Take good care of your health and have a great day!