Eating for Two: The Pregnant Woman’s Diet

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Pregnant women have a special dietary needs. They need to follow a healthy diet not only for their body, but more importantly for the development of their unborn baby. The expression “eating for two” plainly describes this need for greater nutrient intake while you are pregnant. Few women unfortunately interpret this as gorging on as much food as they can stomach. While pregnant women are expected to gain a certain amount of weight during their pregnancy, it may be dangerous to gain too much weight from eating too much foods. Eating for two does not indicate increasing one’s food intake, but refers to improving the nutritional quality of one’s diet. What pregnant women always must keep in mind is that the baby is not as big as a full grown adult, so his/her dietary consumption is mostly different.

Pregnancy is controlled by several complex processes that require women to increase their body’s supply of vitamins and minerals in order to meet the requirements of an expanding blood supply, the growth of maternal tissues, a developing fetus, loss of maternal tissues during birth and preparation for lactation(milk production). Nutrient deficiency may cause problems during pregnancy, and these can generally be averted or helped if the mother maintains a sensible diet. Among these health issues are; anemia, changing blood pressure, preeclampsia, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and diabetes during pregnancy.

During pregnancy the basic principles of healthy eating remain the unchanged — lot’s of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and thin sources of protein. This is helped by the fact that during pregnancy, your body becomes more efficient at absorbing nutrient materials in the digestive system. Instead, the body does not excrete nutrients to build up stores of vitamins and minerals. However, certain nutrients must be increased in the diet. These nutrients, like folate (folic acid), calcium, vitamin D, iron, protein and essential fatty acids (EFAs), are necessary for the baby’s growth and development.

Folic Acid Rich Foods :

Women need more folate(Vit.B9) , a vitamin B, during pregnancy to help their expanding blood volume and the growth of maternal and fetal tissues, and to lessen the risk to the fetus of neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs are dangerous abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Lack of folate also increases the risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight and poor growth of the foetus.

Sources of Folate

Among the best sources of folate are –

  • leafy green vegetables,
  • citrus fruits, and
  • dried beans and peas,
  • While the artificial form of folate found in supplements and fortified foods such as cereals.

Calcium and Vitamin D Rich Foods :

Pregnant and lactating women require calcium and vitamin D to maintain the integrity of their bones, while providing for the skeletal development (bone Development) of the fetus and the production of breast milk.
Vitamin D increases intestinal absorption of calcium ion and is necessary for the body to use calcium efficiently. Calcium helps the circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run properly. If there is not enough calcium in the pregnant woman’s diet, the calcium needs the baby will be taken from the mother’s bones.
Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D

The best sources of calcium and vitamin D are dairy products such as-

-###(few diary product name in pregnancy)

Iron Rich Foods :

Additional iron is required during pregnancy to increase the maternal red blood cell (RBCs) mass and to supply the growing fetus and placenta. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues/organs. During pregnancy the need for iron becomes double. This is because, the blood volume expands to accommodate changes in a woman’s body and the baby must make his/ her entire blood supply. Lack of iron in the blood may result not only in fatigue and increased sensitivity to infections, but can also increase the risk of pre-term delivery and low birth weight of the baby.

Sources of Iron :

Iron can be found in abundantly in the
-lean red meat,
-poultry and
-fish.

Protein Rich Foods :

Protein is very crucial for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Getting necessary protein is important for both mother and baby to build muscle and other tissues, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.
Sources of Proteins :
Good sources of protein includes
-lean meats,
-poultry,
-fish,
-beans,
-nuts, and
-low- or non-fat dairy products.

Essential Fatty Acids Rich Foods:

It is also important that pregnant women consume adequate amounts of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in their daily diet for proper fetal neural and visual development.
Sources of EFAs :

Women are also adviced to keep track of what they are eating in daily diet , to make sure that their diet encompasses all the nutritional requirements. Having a sensible diet along with mild exercise will help assure that both mother and baby are healthy and happy.

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