There is a lot that goes into making your baby. The dot that goes through nine months of development from a speck to a fully grown baby, suitable for hugs, needs adequate nutrients and nourishment to be able to successfully complete its journey.
While mother- nature is particularly gifted in this department providing oxygen and vital nutrients, the quality of sustenance is largely dependent on what the mother eats. For all the women who have struggled with excess calories, now is the time to eat to your heart’s content. This also means that you don’t simply over eat but eat adequate amounts for both yourself and the growing foetus inside you. Giving quality food intake precedence over quantity will certainly pave the way for a healthy and safe pregnancy.
The benefits of eating well are innumerable. You are more likely to give birth to a perfectly healthy, full term baby with good birth weight. There are lesser chances of foetal anomalies that generally take place in the first trimester. The brain development is optimal, so it won’t be surprising when you find your child acing his tests later on in life. Pregnancy complications are few and far between for women eating well.
Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes can largely be prevented through a good nutritious diet. Eating frequently will give relief to nausea, vomitting, heartburn and a host of other gastric disturbances. Your chances of having a normal and quick delivery also increase manifold. Post partum recovery is seen to be quicker in women who eat well. If you are already eating well your pregnancy ought to be a piece of cake.
The pregnancy diet is not all that different from a normal diet. Barring a few modifications, one can continue eating a balanced diet. Eating for two is a misnomer as only a few hundred extra calories are required for the growing baby inside you. A few basic principles can be followed in the quest to eat well during pregnancy.
Think About The Foetus
Before you take the first bite of the day think, about whether that bite will provide quality sustenance to your baby. Your food should be nutrient dense, ie it should have stocks of multiple nutrients. Each bite you take will be a stepping stone to giving good food to your baby. Choose your calories with thought and care. Quality is always better than quality. A 200 calorie piece of cake is not the same as a 200 calorie cheese and cucumber sandwich. The latter outranks the former in it’s nutrient density. Your baby will certainly benefit from a 2000 calorie, nutrient rich diet than 2000 empty calories.
Don’t Skip Meals
The worst thing to do now when you are pregnant is to skip meals. Your baby cannot survive on just love or the extra fat that you have around your belly. It needs regular doses of good quality food spaced at 2-3 hourly intervals. So even if vomiting is keeping you down and just the thought of eating is making you feel queasy, eat.
Your baby will certainly be hungry even if you are not. Become efficient at calorie intake. A big bowl of vegetable and oats soup with a mix of 4-5 different vegetables will still provide nourishment than not eating anything at all. Similarly if you feel like eating a big bowl of ice-cream, replace it with a big bowl of chilled yoghurt or a fruit smoothie. This will definitely step up your nutritional efficiency.
For fitness conscious women skipping on unhealthy carbs is a way of life but it is not recommended while you are pregnant. Instead replace those carbs with fibre-rich, whole grain carbs like bran, whole wheat, brown rice, dried beans, fruits and vegetables. These will keep your weight in check and will also keep you and your baby feeling full for a long time.
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Avoid starchy, sugar rich and refined carbs as they spike your blood sugar levels and pre-dispose you to gestational diabetes. Load up on fruit juices and dry fruits. Also remember to choose fruits and vegetables that are in season. Allow yourself to eat them raw and in the form of salads as they retain all their nutrients. Tinned, canned and processed foods should be avoided.
Eating Well Begins At Home
It is easy to get side tracked from a healthy diet when you see your spouse digging into a tub of ice cream or guzzling down a can of beer. So enlist him into making your home into a fat- free food zone. You may request your older child or husband to however eat outside if they do desire the occasional treat. Consuming fatty foods and alcohol will severely jeopardize your and your foetus’s health besides interfering in nutrient absorption.
During pregnancy the average mother needs an excess of 300 calories over and above her pre pregnancy intake. This increases to 500 extra calories in the last trimester. Loading up on these extra calories seems a cake walk but one must choose wisely and not over load. Eating extra calories is un-necessary and unwise as it only hinders your post partum recovery and makes it difficult for you to shed the extra weight. So how do you keep a track? Weigh yourself every week. There should be a half a pound weight gain every week. Lesser than this, you need to step up your calorie intake.
Amino acids are vital for your baby’s multiplying cells so it is recommended to have 75 gms of protein everyday. All you have to do is eat three servings of any of the following foods – An 8 ounce glass buttermilk, 1 cup yoghurt, 1 whole egg, 4 ounces fish. 4 ounces chicken, 4 ounces mutton or red meats, 4-6 ounces of pulses or soya for vegetarians.
Calcium is required for strong, healthy bones otherwise you are putting your baby at risk for osteoporosis later on in life. For the lactose intolerant, calcium fortified foods may do the trick along with a calcium supplement. Aim for four serving of calcium rich food from any of the following – 1 ounce cheese, 1 cup milk or buttermilk, 1 cup yoghurt, 4 ounces of salmon, 1 cup of cooked greens or cabbage, tofu, figs, cottage cheese, broccoli and spinach.
Vitamins, Minerals And Fats
Vitamins and minerals help in the repair of worn out tissues and boost your baby’s immunity. Iron and folic acid is a must to prevent anaemia and certain birth defects like Spina Bifida. These can be provided by food like bananas, kiwi fruit, mangoes, apples sardines, pomegranites, pumpkin, cherries, cranberries, walnuts, raisins and pistachios. Aim for 3-4 servings of fruits and one serving of nuts. Add variety. Fats in moderation can be consumed in the form of olive oil, mayonnaise, salad dressings, cream and butter.In pregnancy 14 gms of fat is recommended.
It is important to curb your salt intake and have lots of fluids in the form of water and juices. 8 -10 glasses of fluids are recommended. Lastly do not forget to take the vital prenatal supplements like calcium, iron and folic acid. Do the best you can, eat safe relax and enjoy your pregnancy.