For a woman, being pregnant is a crucial stage in her life and to be healthy before, during, and after the stage is equally important. There isn’t a set rule however it is essential to follow a precise pregnancy diet.
For having a robust gestation, more or less 300 surplus calories are required; and these calories can be gained from a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will not only result in maintaining good wellness but also reduce nausea, constipation, and uneasy feelings.
Eating wholesome food is difficult for the mother-to-be and the baby, as two lives are going through a major stage of development. The woman especially needs energy and strength as during pregnancy progesterone increases in the body considerably which results in fatigue and weakness. Hence, there are a few nutrients that one needs to pay attention towards which is the main part of the pregnancy diet:
- Calcium is for sturdy bones and healthy functioning of the circulatory, muscular and nervous systems, for both, the mother and the baby. A daily intake of 1,000 milligrams (mg) is usually recommended. The best sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach, and juice.
- Proteins for the baby’s growth in the period of pregnancy. One must consume a minimum of 71 grams (g) a day of proteins. Fish, chicken, lentils, eggs, and cottage cheese are perfect for proteins.
- Folic Acid conciliates premature birth and having a low-weight baby and Folate which is a type of vitamin B, prohibits any problems with the baby’s development of the brain and spinal cord. It’s suggested to have 400 micrograms per day and 600 to 1,000 micrograms of folate or folic acid before conception of folate or folic acid daily throughout the pregnancy respectively. Sources for the same are peanuts, oranges, spinach, cereal, and beans.
- Iron prevents iron deficiencies like anemia and the development of good hemoglobin. At the very least 27 milligrams of iron, a day is recommended for a stress-free pregnancy. Chicken, green peas, tomatoes, sprouts, and spinach are rich in iron and can be considered the top foods to keep one healthy.
Fluids to Consume During Pregnancy
In a pregnancy diet chart, fluids play a great part and which is very necessary too. However, consuming fluids is equally crucial for a healthy pregnancy as eating whole foods. Studies suggest fluids in any form say water, milk, juice, soup, porridge and so on are safe to drink and tiny amounts of caffeine in tea and coffee are fine.
Meanwhile, studies have discovered that no quantity of alcohol is safe to drink throughout pregnancy. Even teeny tiny amounts can cause a catastrophic impact on a baby’s development in the future. “Alcohol is a teratogen, meaning it causes anomalies. Alcohol affects the developing fetal brain, heart, and facial features, and impairs normal growth,” says Dr. Kecia Gaither, the director of perinatal services at NYC Health and Hospitals.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body is developing and in order to cope with these changes, it’s obligatory to drink as much water as possible. At least 8 to 12 glasses of water should be consumed as a lack of water in the body will result in dehydration. Dehydration during a sensitive stage like this can result in sickness, dizziness, cramps, irregular bowel movements, sore head, and edema. One must remember to stay highly hydrated in the last trimester as dehydration may cause preterm labor, i.e., the baby is born prematurely.
So how do you get to know if you are hydrated enough or not? You can do that by checking the color of your urine. If the color lies in the range of Pale yellow to Colorless then it means you are well hydrated; if it’s dark, then you need to drink more water.
But one mustn’t limit themselves to merely drinking water and rather even have alternative fluids such as milk, fresh fruit juices, non-caffeinated drinks like Jal-jeera and lemonade, smoothies, and also foods with intense water content like watermelon, celery, and cucumber.
Food Cravings During Pregnancy
Now you may have heard of food cravings that occur in the middle of the night and it’s normal. Food cravings are nothing but these unforeseen urges to eat a certain type of food might be or might not be included in your pregnancy diet chart and it influences the pregnant woman’s health a lot. Common cravings include chocolates, ice cream, strawberries, coal, mud, and plenty more!
But, nobody really knows where cravings come from. A few studies give possible explanations like hormonal changes, specific nutritional deficits, and molecules in the body that may lead to food cravings. These cravings start in the first trimester, get stronger in the second trimester and decline slowly in the third trimester till delivery.
Even though having these food aversions is completely normal, it needs to be added in your pregnancy diet chart as it might be quite easy to handle them. We mean, after all, it is a very emotionally challenging period of your life. Here are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to food aversions and cravings:
- Distract Yourself: If you are unable to let go of that food urge then you need to do something to take your mind off it. Go on a walk, call your loved ones or just simply, Netflix and chill!
- Go for Healthy Alternatives: Cravings may not be necessarily healthy and nutrition is still an unforgettable factor to consider. So why not go for an apple instead of apple pie? Just stock up on healthier substitutes and check if it satisfies your cravings or not.
- But, Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself: Like, what is the purpose of being pregnant if you can’t treat yourself with those cravings in the middle of the night, occasionally? Just ensure that there is a balance maintained.
But, there are chances that you may crave non-food aversions like coal, mud, dust, toothpaste and so on (yes, it is very real) which is also known as Pica. Pica is considered to be a sign of nutrient deficiency. If any abnormal pregnancy cravings occur, then immediately talk it out with your doctor or dietician to avoid future complications.
To know more about pregnancy diets, discuss it with a dietician who specializes in pregnancy or your maternity care support.