When you are pregnant it is very important to eat regular, well-balanced meals as the food you eat provides nutrition to your baby.
While tablets can make up for some deficiencies in a pregnant woman's diet, the best way to get adequate protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and vitamin C for your baby is to eat the right foods. Meat, cheese, beans, eggs, fish and seafood are all good sources of proteins, which are the building blocks of human cells.
Dairy products provide calcium, important for the baby's developing bones, teeth, muscles, heart and nerves. Many meats, vegetables and whole grain breads contain iron which is vital for the baby's blood supply and is critical in helping pregnant women avoid anemia.
The key to a healthy baby is the quality of the food you eat and not the quantity. You do not have to literally eat for two! Pregnant women are advised to increase their daily intake by about 300 to 500 calories a day. Doctors suggest that it's okay for women to gain between 10 and 15 kgs during a normal pregnancy.
So, how much should you eat to provide adequate amounts of nutrients for yourself and your baby? 2500 calories is the recommended daily calorie intake for active women in the last six months of pregnancy. If you are unsure about your caloric intake, relative to your activity level, speak to your gynecologist about what's right for you.
Given below are the nutrient requirements for the pregnant woman, alongwith the quantity of particular kinds of foods she needs to consume to get adequate dosage:
• 60 grams of protein - milk, cheese, eggs, meat, fish, and poultry, beans and nuts.
• 1200 mg of calcium - milk, yogurt, cheese, whole grains, leafy vegetables and egg.
• Two servings of vitamin C rich foods - citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, melons and potatoes.
• 400 mg of folic acid - dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and juices fortified breads and cereals, whole grains, liver and dried beans and peas.
• At least eight glasses of water and a few glasses of vegetable and fruit juice. 30 mg of iron - green leafy vegetables, fortified breads and cereals, meat, fish, and poultry, beans, nuts and eggs.
Try to relax, avoid large meals, nibble on anything healthy and start an exercise program. Eating regularly and not skipping meals is important to make sure that you're providing your baby with a steady supply of nutrients.
But there are some stuff you should avoid like alcohol which may harm your unborn child. Foods and drinks with empty calories like sweets, cola or fried snacks like pakodas should be avoided.
Discuss with your gynaecologist before taking any medication during pregnancy. It's also advisable to stop or cut back on anything that contains caffeine, like coffee and tea. If you smoke, consider quitting for those nine months. Smoking has been linked to low birth weight and premature delivery. It helps to remember what you eat, drink or inhale does not merely affect you, but your unborn child as well.