Diet is an important aspect to take care of during pregnancy. Although pregnancy is a physiological phenomenon, all the physiological processes are stretched maximally during pregnancy, for example, there is increase in calorie requirement, nutritional requirement is maximum during pregnancy etc. Diet during pregnancy is of utmost importance, because the pregnant woman has to cater for the growing fetus also, along with her own needs, which are also higher due to changes that occur in woman’s body during pregnancy. The recommended daily allowances (RDA) during pregnancy are much higher than normal times.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) during pregnancy is higher than normal, for example during first trimester (first three months of pregnancy), BMR is higher by 5%, which increases up to 12% during the last trimester of pregnancy. Due to the physiological changes, pregnant women need to select their foods wisely, which can supply the increased requirement of calorie and nutritional (vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids etc.) needs for the mother and the growing fetus.
Cereals, grains, pulses:
Pregnant women should eat whole grain cereals. Cereals and grains are rich sources of carbohydrate (required for high-energy needs during pregnancy) and protein, needed for new cell growth for mother and fetus. Pulses are rich source of protein and carbohydrates.
Vegetables and fruits:
Vegetables and fruits provide adequate vitamins (except vitamin B 12, K, and D) and minerals. Vegetables and fruits also supply much needed dietary fiber, which is required during pregnancy, because constipation is a common problem during pregnancy. Most of the water-soluble vitamins are required to be supplied daily, because they cannot be stored well by the body and vegetables and fruits play this role well. Eat lots of locally grown vegetables and fruits for optimal outcome of pregnancy.
Meat, poultry and fish:
Protein rich foods, such as meat, fish and poultry should be consumed by pregnant women in adequate amount for optimal growth of the fetus.
Milk and milk products:
Milk and milk products are rich sources of calcium and protein, although it is poor in iron content. Calcium is the most important nutrient for bone health and required for formation of bones and teeth of the fetus.
On an average a pregnant woman need following calories along with adequate amount of other nutrients:
- Involved in light work: 2175 Kcal
- Medium work: 2525 Kcal
- Heavy work: 3500 Kcal (pregnant women ideally should not be involved in heavy work)