Food is the most important aspect of successful and healthyÂ pregnancy. Food intake during pregnancy determines the health of the fetus and successful outcome of pregnancy. Although, pregnancy is a physiological (normal) process, it put an extra burden to the mother. The extra burden is due to fast growing fetus and also due to other physiological processes and compensations.
It is very important to eat healthy and adequate quality and quantity of food during pregnancy. During pregnancy most nutrients are required in excess (in compare to normal non pregnant time), including calorie intake. The excess nutrient intake is required to supply nutrients for the growing fetus and also for compensatory physiological process that is active, e.g. pregnancy causes increase in blood volume, which in turn requires extra iron for extra hemoglobin synthesis. There are also many nutrients required in excess of normal requirement. Some important nutritional aspects during pregnancy are discussed below.
Importance of folic acid during pregnancy:
Folic acid is very important, especially during early pregnancy (first few weeks). Inadequate intake of folic acid, can nausea neural tube defect such as spina bifida, where spinal cord is not properly developed. There can also be other congenital deformities due to lack of folic acid.
Some good food sources of folic acid are:
- Spinach, green leafy vegetables, lettuce.
- Broccoli, sprouting beans, chickpeas, peanuts.
- Pumpkin, carrot etc.
Eat foods rich in folic acid in liberal amounts for adequate supply of folic acid.
Morning sickness (symptoms are nausea and vomiting and loss of appetite) is a common problem of pregnancy, especially in the first three months. The first three months of pregnancy is also important, because most organ development takes place during this time. As, organ development takes place during first three months of pregnancy, it is very important to have adequate nutrition. For adequate nutrition intake it is important to take care of morning sickness. The following tips can help reduce/prevent morning sickness:
- Avoid large meals and eat small quantity of food frequently.
- Eat the food you like, but try to avoid spicy and fatty foods.
- Cold foods are better than hot foods, as they have less flavor.
- Do not move suddenly and while getting up from bed, get up slowly. Never lie down suddenly.
- Avoid fasting and do not remain hungry.
- Avoid foods which you may haveÂ allergy.
Follow the above instructions to prevent/reduce morning sickness. It is important to ensure that the food you consume during pregnancy, especially during first three months contain adequate calories, and other nutrients such as proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements for optimal growth, health and development of fetus.