A healthy diet is extremely important for a healthy outcome (a healthy baby and healthy mother at the end of pregnancy) of pregnancy. Pregnancy is a normal physiological process, but it involves huge physiological stress to the mother because she has to provide nourishment to the growing fetus.
During pregnancy, there are increased nutritional needs for the mother to support the growing nutritional needs of the fetus and for allowing the great physiological changes (e.g. increase in body weight, increase in the size of the uterus, increased blood volume, etc.) to occur in the body of the mother.
Throughout pregnancy, the RDA (recommended daily allowances) for all nutrients as well as calorie requirement (calorie requirement can be as high as 25% more than pre-pregnancy state) is greater than normal times.
Due to the increased need for nutrients, it is important to take a well-balanced diet. Diet during pregnancy should be able to provide an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, proteins, and calories, for the pregnant woman. Careful selection of diet can provide all the nutrients a pregnant woman needs, except iron, which a pregnant woman may not get from a natural diet and need to take supplements iron.
A pregnant woman’s diet should consist of the following:
Whole grain cereals (rice, wheat, maize, etc.) should be preferred. Cereals are rich in carbohydrates, and protein, and form the major contributor to calorie requirements.
Vegetables provide most of the vitamins (except vitamin B12) and minerals. Vegetables provide fiber, which is important for preventing constipation, which is a common problem during pregnancy. Common vegetables that can be consumed during pregnancy include tomato, eggplant, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, leafy vegetables, etc.
Fruits also provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Most of the fruits available in your locality can be consumed unless there is some contraindication for any specific fruit. Fresh fruit or fruit juice can be consumed.
Meat, fish, and poultry:
Meat, fish, and poultry provide the required protein for the growing fetus. The quality of protein is better than protein found in grain/cereals. Meat (red meat) intake should be limited. Take adequate fish during pregnancy that supplies mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids (including omega-3-fatty acids), which are good for brain development.
Milk and milk products:
Dairy products provide good quality protein and calcium. Calcium is important for bone and teeth development for your baby and inadequate calcium intake may lead to osteoporosis for the pregnant woman. If a pregnant woman can not consume milk, other milk products such as yogurt can be taken instead.
Make sure to take a well-balanced diet during pregnancy, which is acceptable locally and culturally. Healthy eating during pregnancy is the only way to get a healthy outcome of pregnancy.