We explore the importance of nutrition during pregnancy with Mediclinic Welcare Hospital
17 March 2020| Last updated on 19 March 2020
Good nutrition plays a key role in the health of mother and baby...
Eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy is interrelated to adequate fetal brain development, a healthy birth weight and also reduce the risks of many birth defects.
Pregnant women should eat a balanced diet with variety of foods to provide important nutrients for baby’s development.
Foods fit for mother and baby
During pregnancy you should eat foods from the basic five groups to ensure that you are getting all the essential nutrients.
- Whole grains: breads, cereals, pastas and brown rice
- Fruits: fruits can be fresh, canned, frozen or dried. Juice that is 100% fruit juice
- Vegetables: raw, cooked, frozen
- Lean protein from plant based and animal based sources: meat, poultry, fish, beans and peas, soy products, nuts and seeds
- Dairy: milk and products made from milk, cheese and yoghurt
Key nutrients during pregnancy
There are few nutrients which plays an important role during pregnancy:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin D
The requirement of these nutrient increases more than the pre-pregnancy time.
Folic acid is very essential to prevent neural tube defects (defects in baby’s brain and spinal cord).
Food sources for folic acid include: Leafy green vegetables, like spinach, broccoli and lettuce. Beans, peas and lentils. Fruits like lemons, bananas and melons, and lastly, fortified and enriched products, like some breads, juices and cereals.
Protein requirements increase during pregnancy. Protein is very essential for the development of baby’s organs such as brain and heart.
Food sources include meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, dairy, nuts, and seeds. For non-meat eaters, protein sources include eggs, beans, soy, leafy greens like spinach and kale, quinoa, nuts and seeds, and dairy.
Calcium is used for building the baby’s bones and teeth. Calcium demands are higher during the pregnancy and also during lactation.
Good food sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yoghurt. If you don't dairy or have trouble digesting milk products, calcium can also be found in other foods like dark green vegetables - kale, watercress, bok choy, broccoli - soy and dairy free alternatives, calcium fortified breakfast cereals, and finally, nuts and seeds.
This is important for the growth and development of baby’s bone, and is particularly important during pregnancy. It is also essential for healthy skin and eyesight.
Food sources of vitamin D include oily fish, eggs, cheese, soy milk, orange juice, and cereals.
During pregnancy you need extra almost double the amount than pre-pregnancy time. To ensure that body has sufficient blood supply and receives necessary oxygen, body needs extra iron during pregnancy.
Food sources include lean red meat, like lamb and beef, poultry, fish, nuts, dried beans and peas, dry, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard, fortified breakfast cereals, and lastly, dried fruits like prunes, raisins, and apricots.
Iron can be absorbed more easily if iron rich foods are eaten along with vitamin C, be it a supplement or a simple glass of orange juice.
Food sources include citrus fruits and sugar-free fresh juices, and tomatoes.
Caffeine intake can decrease iron getting absorbed in your body, so don’t take tea or coffee immediately after your meals.
Avoid extra calories from added sugar and fats, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Food has a big role in maintaining the health of mother and baby. Practice good nutritional habits during pregnancy. Always incorporate foods from different food groups, include more variety and practice moderation. This will be the best approach to enjoy a healthy eating during pregnancy and even afterwards.
To discuss your nutritional needs during pregnancy with an expert, simply press click to contact below to get in touch with the team at Mediclinic Welcare Hospital.
Authored by Amera Varghese
Mediclinic Welcare Hospital