It's not only important to prepare yourself mentally and financially for the arrival of the new baby but also, it’s equally important to prepare your body for a healthy risk-free pregnancy.
Factors such as your weight compared with your height, BMI and what you eat can play an important role in your health during pregnancy and the health of the foetus. Mothers who are undernourished compared with mothers whose BMI comes under the normal category give birth to smaller babies according to the statistics. On the other hand, overweight mothers have increased risks for problems in pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and thyroid. Many women, especially in a developing country like India, don’t eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet before pregnancy. They may also not have the proper nutritional status for the demands of pregnancy. It is actually a myth that you need to “eat for two” during pregnancy. You do need extra calories, but a gradual increase in calories as your baby develops will be just right! Generally speaking, a pregnant woman needs to add about 300-400 extra calories to her diet while being pregnant to meet the needs of her body and her developing foetus. But these calories, as well as her entire diet, need to be healthy, balanced, and nutritious. Here’s a chart to help you manage your calories: - Daily calories should be around 2,200-2,500 calories/day. - First Trimester - No extra calories needed - Second Trimester - 300-350 extra calories/day - Third Trimester - 450 extra calories/day The daily diet should consist of Protein, Folic Acid, Vitamin D & C, Iron, DHA & PUFAs to have a healthy pregnancy. One can get enough Protein & Iron from lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. The best sources of Vitamin C are all red & yellow fruits vegetables, Vitamin D is found in Salmon, mackerel, tuna, mushrooms, eggs, vitamin D fortified milk and cereal. DHA & PUFA are both mentions in sufficient quantities in the aforementioned foods. One thing to keep in mind is that even if you are eating a balanced diet, you can still be deficient in essential nutrients. Prenatal vitamins and minerals should ideally be started 3 months before you get pregnant. They are recommended to make sure you get all the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy, strong mother and fully developed baby. You can expect to get prescribed Folic Acid, Iron and Calcium as your Pre Natal vitamins by your gynaecologist. Folic Acid oil most benefits in the initial stages of pregnancy to prevent defects of the brain and the spinal cord called neural tube effects. Many women are deficient in Iron due to the lack of iron stores in the body because of menstruation and a low iron diet. It is very important to have sufficient iron in the body to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy. Lastly, Calcium is really an important part of any woman’s pregnancy. If there is not enough calcium in the pregnancy diet, the foetus may draw calcium from the mother's bones, which can put women at risk for osteoporosis later in life. A lot of people experience prenatal vitamins' side effects. Some people get nauseated or constipated from taking these vitamins. If this happens, one should always talk with their doctor about changing brands or the types of vitamins you’re taking. Now what if you have cravings and experience morning sickness, acidity and heartburn? All these are very common things that happen during one’s pregnancy. If not handled tactfully, they can make or break your whole pregnancy experience. For Cravings, one should always resort to healthier options and stay away from fried, processed and high sodium foods to prevent water retention and swelling. If you are craving sweet things, have fruits, if you want something salty and oily, go for air fried snacks. If you are craving spicy, have a spicy salsa. These swaps may not look that important to you but they are very important for your overall health and wellbeing. Coming to the morning sickness part of the pregnancy, one can eat small frequent meals to keep the stomach full. An empty stomach causes nausea in a lot of women. Always keep ginger and lemon infused water to soothe your gut and take your iron supplement at night to get relief from nausea in the morning. Lastly, heartburn happens commonly in the later stages of pregnancy which is the third trimester. Progesterone Hormone in pregnancy causes the valve between the stomach and oesophagus to relax which allows the acid into the oesophagus causing acidity and heartburn. One can eat small frequent meals, sit upright after each meal, avoid caffeine and spicy foods to get relief from this condition.