Pregnancy is a period for great physiological stress for the woman as she is nurturing a growing foetus in her body. Foetal development is accompanied by many physiological, biochemical and hormonal changes occurring in the maternal body which influence the need for nutrients and the efficiency with which the body uses them. It is physiologically and nutritionally a highly demanding period. Extra food is required to meet the requirements of the foetus.

So, the increase in the nutritional requirements of a pregnant woman can be attributed to:

  1. Rapid growth of the foetus

  2. Development of the placenta

  3. Enlargement of maternal tissues mainly the breast and uterine tissues

  4. Increase in maternal circulating blood volume.

  5. Formation of amniotic fluid

  6. Storage reserves

  7. Mineralization of the skeletal and bone structure of the foetus as well as tooth buds.

In India, it is observed that diets from low socioeconomic groups are essentially similar during pre-pregnant, pregnant and lactating periods. Consequently, there is widespread maternal malnutrition leading to high prevalence of low birth weight infants and a very high maternal mortality. Additional foods are required to improve weight gain in pregnancy and birth weight of infants.


Essential nutrients

The diet of a pregnant woman should contain addition calories and proteins. In addition, some micronutrients like iron, folic acid, calcium, iodine, vitamin A are also required in extra amounts. Iron is required to meet the high demands of RBC formation. Folic acid, taken throughout the pregnancy reduces the risk of congenital malformations and increases the birth weight. Calcium is needed for proper formation of bones and teeth of the offspring, for secretion of breast-milk, and to prevent osteoporosis in the mother. Iodine intake ensures proper mental health of the fetus and infant. Vitamin A is required during lactation to improve child survival.

Dietary modifications

  • Adequate intake of a nutritious diet is reflected in optimal weight gain during pregnancy. The pregnant woman should eat a wide variety of foods to make sure that her own nutritional needs as well as of growing foetus can be met.

  • There is no particular need to modify the usual dietary pattern. However, the quantity and frequency of usage of the different foods should be increased.

  • She can derive maximum amount of energy from rice, wheat and millets.

  • Cooking oil is a concentrated source of both energy and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

  • Good quality protein is derived from milk, fish, meat, poultry and eggs. However, a proper combination of cereals, pulses and nuts also provides adequate proteins.

  • Mineral and vitamin requirements are met by consuming a variety of seasonal vegetables particularly green leafy vegetables, milk and fresh fruits.

  • Bioavailability of iron can be improved by using fermented and sprouted grams and foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits.

  • Milk is the best source of biologically available calcium. Though it is possible to meet the requirements for most of the nutrients through a balanced diet, pregnant/lactating women are advised to take daily supplements of iron, folic acid, vitamin B and calcium

Some tips

  • Eat more food during pregnancy

  • Eat more whole grains, pulses, sprouted grams, vegetables and fermented foods.

  • Take milk/meat/eggs in adequate amounts.

  • Take plenty of fluids including water and nutritious beverages.

  • Excess intake of beverages containing caffeine like coffee and tea should be avoided.

  • Do not use alcohol and tobacco.

  • Avoid superstitions and food taboos.

  • Take iron, folate and calcium supplements regularly, after 14-16 weeks of pregnancy and continue the same during lactation.

  • Pregnant woman requires enough physical exercise with adequate rest for 2-3 hours during the day.

Here at NUTRIDIETS, we will help you to plan a customized diet that is suitable for your special needs in different phases of lifecycle taking into consideration your eating habits and lifestyle. It is because some stages in lifecycle like pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood nutrition, and elderly nutrition demand special dietary changes and nutritional requirements and following our diet plans, you will be eating healthy according to your needs.

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