- Folic acid is important during pregnancy
- Mothers-to-be must go for a walk or do yoga or some of exercise
- It helps in keeping them active and healthy during pregnancy
One of the most nutritionally demanding periods in a woman's life is pregnancy. The body undergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy and good nutrition is a must to cope with those changes. Good nutrition can not only help you have a healthy pregnancy, it can also ensure birth of a healthy baby. Nutritionist Nmami Agarwal mentions that optimum nutrition can support hormonal changes during pregnancy along with proper growth of placenta, cardiac output and blood volume. In one of her recent blog posts shared on Instagram, Nmami writes that nutrient requirements are different for mothers and the baby in each trimester of pregnancy.
Following are trimester wise nutritional guidelines important for mothers-to-be and babies:
First trimester or first three months of a pregnancy require increase in qualitative rather than quantitative increase in diet. This is because there is no increase in the size of foetus during this time, informs Nmami. Thus, energy requirements of would-be-moms remain same during first trimester. However, there is need to increase intake of minerals like folic acid right from the first trimester of pregnancy.
1. Folic acid
Folic acid is required for normal development of brain and spinal cord of the baby. The two start developing right from the first few weeks of pregnancy.
You can increase intake of folic acid by consuming more dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, spring greens. Other food sources of folic acid include pulses, asparagus, oranges and fresh peas to name a few.
For maxmising consumption of folic acid, you should try to consume these foods either raw or steamed. This is because folic acid is heat sensitive and has the tendency of losing its effectiveness while being cooked.
Seafood, meat, eggs, whole grains, leafy greens, ragi, bajra, almonds, walnuts and groundnuts are rich sources of iron. Also, include Vitamin C rich foods like amla, lemon and oranges in your diet to improve iron absorption in the body.
Milk, curd, cheese, soya bean, leafy greens and seafood are instances of food rich in calcium - an important mineral in first trimester of pregnancy.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is required by the body for utilising calcium consumed from the diet. Egg yolks, cereals and fish liver oils are a few food sources of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is synthesised in the body in exposure to sunlight. You can spend around 5 to minutes in sunlight every day for your daily dose of Vitamin D.
Second and third trimester
Nutrient requirement need increases in the second and third trimester. Mothers-to-be need more energy during second and third trimester as the foetus grows during this period. There is also a growth of placenta and increase in material organs and body size. Energy requirements increase by 350 Kcal per day.
Protein requirements are also more at this stage. Protein helps in formation of amniotic fluid and also supports synthesis of maternal and foetal tissues. Foods like fish, poultry, pulses, milk, soybean and meat can provide mums-to-be with good amount of protein.
Vitamin C is required during second and third trimester for collagen synthesis and development of blood vessels. Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruits, fruits and veggies with a deep colour such as guavas, kiwi and berries, dark green veggies like bell peppers, broccoli and spinach to name a few.
Get your omega 3 fatty acids from foods like whole cereals, nuts and oilseeds, flax seeds, walnuts and fatty fish. Milk and milk products, nuts and seeds and whole cereals are rich in magnesium, which is required for healthy growth of uterus.
Also required is more of Vitamin B12 through milk and milk products and all kinds of meat.
How to cope with constipation during pregnancy?
Constipation tends to be quite common during latter half of pregnancy. You can prevent it by drinking plenty of fluids like buttermilk, lemon water, plain water, soups, etc. Fibrous foods can also help in preventing constipation. Fruits, vegetables, prunes and porridge are fibre-rich foods that can keep constipation at bay.
Ensure that you consume at least five portions of fruits and veggies daily. Limit intake of refined carbs like fried foods, pasta, maida, etc.
Exercising regularly, some yoga or a daily walk can keep you healthy and also reducing constipation during pregnancy.
How to cope with morning sickness?
Nausea and morning sickness is commonly experienced during first trimester of pregnancy. Mothers-to-be should opt for small and frequent meals rather meals and must also try to avoid having an empty stomach for a long time. Start your day with some fruit. Pungent foods with strong odour must be avoided. Dry ginger or lemon water can also help in settling down nausea.
Pregnancy and heartburn
Heartburn can occur at any time during pregnancy and to relieve its symptoms you can avoid fatty foods, chocolates and alcohol, especially before bedtime. Spicy and acidic foods can also make it worse so it is the best you avoid them. You can opt for more cold milk and dairy products. Eating slowly and drinking fluids (but not with meals) can also help.
(Nmami Agarwal is nutritionist at Nmami Life)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.