Nepal in Globe
Eating right during pregnancy
When we are pregnant with our little ones, we are not only nurturing their body through us, we are giving abode to a soul who so willingly wants us to accept it. The little ones accept us as their niche and their life thus depend solely on us for their nourishment, development and growth. Our bodies nurture the little life within us minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. Therefore, it is very important to eat right and take care of ourselves during pregnancy. In fact, our body must be in good health even before we are pregnant so that it can take care of the little bean as soon as it is created.
Eating right foods every day and taking prenatal vitamins is a key to a good pregnancy diet. The amount of the food matters too. There is a misconception that we should be eating for two people. In reality, the little one requires almost no additional calories during the first trimester. What really counts is the balance of different food groups that needs to be included in our diet. During second trimester, we only require 300 additional calories and in the third trimester about 450 calories more per day is needed.
Here are some tips on diet to remain healthy during pregnancy. Of course, right amount of physical activity is another aspect of healthy pregnancy.
- We should consult doctor and take the prenatal vitamins regularly as soon as we know that we are pregnant or even before that. A prenatal vitamin has folic acid in addition to other essential vitamins and minerals. Folic acid is crucial for the development of brain and spinal cord and thus prevents many birth defects.
- Drinking water, at least 2 liters a day, helps keep us hydrated and helps prevent nausea, dizziness, cramps etc. Adequate amount of water is essential all the time to dilute or remove toxic body wastes from our body and keep our blood cells clean. During pregnancy, body requires more blood to supply nutrition to the baby; it is really helpful to track the amount of water consumed.
- Carbohydrate is the key source of energy and most of our energy comes from this food group. Try to have oatmeal, bread, bananas, roti for breakfast, rice or wheat/multi-grain roti for lunch, fruits and nuts for snacks and again rice or roti for dinner as a healthy source of carbohydrate.
- Iron rich foods like spinach, saag (mustard greens, or any green leaves) should be consumed regularly. Iron deficiency can cause nausea, dizziness, and fatigue to the mother and low-birth weight of baby, preterm delivery and in some cases even infant mortality. We should consult our doctor if we experience extreme fatigue or dizziness, and get checked for blood iron levels. Iron insufficiency or deficiency can be overturned by additional iron supplements in addition to prenatal vitamins.
- Amino acids are the building blocks of protein which are required for muscles and other different body parts. There are about 20 amino acids of which 9 essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by our body; we need to get these directly from our food. Some foods have a few amino acids while others have the rest. But foods like dairy, soy and meat have all those 9 essential acids and thus are referred as good source of complete proteins. Thus, we need to eat a balanced diet with a variety of nutrient rich foods every day.
- Calcium rich foods like dairy, tofu or canned fish should be consumed regularly in adequate amounts. Calcium is required for healthy development of bone, muscles, heart and nervous system. Our body tries to provide enough calcium to the baby within us by getting it from our bones if there is no adequate supply from our diet. So we should consume about 3-4 servings of dairy or other alternate sources of calcium daily.
- Fruits and vegetables are the natural sources of all the minerals and vitamins that we get from prenatal pills and hence they are absorbed easily by our body. We should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and aim at eating at least 2 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the brain and nervous system development. DHA and EPA which are part of omega-3 fatty acids can prevent preterm labor and delivery, and are recommended by doctors these days during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Our bodies can only make small amounts of DHA so we need to get it from our diet or supplements. Fish oil, flax seed oil and walnuts are the key sources of such fatty acids. We can also get supplements that extract DHA from seaweeds.