Many of us are now getting aware about importance of diet during pregnancy. Adequate nutrition before and during pregnancy has a great impact on long term health status of infant as well as mother. Maternal health is influenced by various factors like environmental conditions, economic status, genetic and social factors which together affect foetal growth to a large extent. A women whose diet is adequate before and during pregnancy is usually able to bear a full term infant.
Mother’s diet that produces adequate nutrients prevents depletion of mother’s nutrient stores and helps in milk production after pregnancy in adequate quantities. It also helps in maintaining optimum nutritional status of a mother after pregnancy. To maintain nutritional status, expectant mother needs to fight commonly occurring dietary problems in pregnancy.
1) Nausea and Vomiting
Morning sickness in early pregnancy is one of the most common problems faced during pregnancy. It not only affects and reduces over all intake but also suppresses feeling of hunger and willingness to consume food. Fairly dry carbohydrates and easily digested foods are well tolerated. Liquids may be taken in between meals rather than with food. Fatty foods, Fried foods, excessive seasonings, large amounts of coffee and strongly flavored vegetables should be restricted or eliminated if nausea persists.
2) Heart Burn
Heart Burn is extremely common during latter part of pregnancy. In most cases, this is an effect of pressure of enlarged uterus on stomach that can result in occasional regurgitation of the stomach contents into esophagus. To prevent it, small amount of meals need to be consumed at a time and drinking fluids in between meals and help. It is essential to sit upright for 2 to 3 hours after meals before lying down.
3) Cravings and Aversions
Food avoidances reflect mother’s consciousness to not consume certain foods during pregnancy. Eg: Papaya, Kharvas, Gingelly seeds and other heat producing foods. Cravings and aversions are intense urges towards or away from foods which pregnant women may experience for certain foods like sweets, sour foods, spicy, non-veg foods, etc. Also there can be urge to consume non-food items like pencil, laundry starch, clay, ice-cubes, etc. It is essential to avoid such a behavior.
4) Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Pregnancies which start pregnancy within normal BMI Category minimize maternal and foetal consequences. Optimal weight gain is about 8 to 13 kgs. About 900 gms to 1.8 kgs is an average gain during the 1st trimester. In later trimesters, average gain of 450 gms to 500 gms per week is usual. Sudden gain in weight after 20th week is indicative of water retention and needs to be watched. Excessive weight gain places extra strain on all organs and needs to be watched.
A pregnant woman is anemic if her hemoglobin is less than 11.0 g/dl (WHO). Anemia can be a result of increased requirement and lack of good quality dietary sources of nutrients. Also maternal age, parity, literacy, income, pregnancy related complications, nutritional stress, cultural beliefs, taboos, inappropriate food practices and many other factors contribute to anemia which need to be corrected. Regular consumption of iron – folic acid rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, cereals such as ragi, jowar, bajra, pulses and legumes is essential. Vitamin C rich food consumption such as lemon, orange, guava, amla should also be promoted.
It is important to consult a pregnancy diet consultant or women’s health consultant for getting a plan adequate in proteins, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids as well as all other micro nutrients for optimum nutritional status of both in long term. Manage your dietary issues well for a best of health and least of complications during and after pregnancy.