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Things Every Mom Should Know about Nutrition & Pregnancy

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Last Updated: September 24, 2019, 11:49 IST

Things Every Mom Should Know about Nutrition & Pregnancy

Fueling the nutritional needs of a mother and growing baby the right way.

The way a pregnant mother nourishes her body affects everything from the health and well being of mother and baby both during and postpartum. Remember they are providing nourishment (not eating more) for two!

What to eat and what to avoid?

At the very start of the pregnancy, talk to the doctor about getting adequate micro and macronutrients. While vitamins and minerals are needed in small amounts, macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide necessary calories and energy. At every meal, fill half a plate with fruits and vegetables. The other half should have whole grains like brown rice, whole-grain bread, or oatmeal. Avoid or restrict packaged and processed junk foods that are high in salt, saturated fat and drinks with artificial flavours and high sugar content.

Pregnant women can meet all their nutritional needs by ensuring they include foods from all five food groups. Here are a few additional facts:

● Milk and other dairy products are a great source of calcium and Vitamin D.

● Whole grains are a rich source of energy.

● Fruits and vegetables have plenty of antioxidants and vitamins.

● Meats, nuts, and legumes can supply the body with much-needed protein, folate, and iron.

● Avoid foods like papaya, raw eggs, meat and fish, offals, alcohol, caffeine and oily fish. The ill-effects of caffeine and alcohol can pass to the baby through the placenta, while mercury levels in oily fish can lead to many complications in growing babies.

Check out this handy table on nutritional guidelines during pregnancy:

Pregnancy is a complicated time for most women, and both food cravings and aversions can put a spanner in the wheels of the best dietary plans. Many women have cravings for chocolate, savoury snacks and comfort foods like Potato fries, pasta and pizza. Others can't stand the sight, smell and taste of foods they would otherwise have no trouble with enjoying. If the doctor suspects mom isn’t getting the needed nutrients, they might prescribe additional vitamins and supplements to make up the shortfall.

After the baby is born, lactation puts a lot of stress on a mother's body as well. Paying attention to what mom eats and staying hydrated is the best way to meet the baby’s needs and remain active enough to care for the family.

Is exercise important during pregnancy?

Exercising during pregnancy is about decreasing back aches and fatigue, preventing gestational diabetes, relieving stress and building stamina for labour - not about weight loss! Women who were physically active before pregnancy should consult their doctor and continue in moderation if possible. Think more low impact workouts than high-impact cardio. But even those who have lived a mostly sedentary lifestyle can safely brisk walk, meditate, swim or try some simple exercises for 30 mins a day. Once developed, this habit is a good one to continue well after the baby is born. Some evidence supports a connection between exercising and reducing postpartum depression.

Are vaccines safe during pregnancy? Which ones are essential?

According to a 2012 study on pandemic influenza in pregnant women from Chennai, only 12.8% of the 140 women interviewed had received the immunisation. Vaccination during pregnancy remains a simple yet effective way to protect both mother and baby from preventable infections. Immunological changes in a mother’s body during pregnancy makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases and puts the child at heightened risk unnecessarily.

Pregnant mothers should talk to their doctors about these vaccines for themselves as well as a vaccination schedule recommended for the baby. Post-birth immunisations like MMR, Smallpox, Polio, Chickenpox are not only advisable but necessary to keep the baby healthy and safe.

Check out the list of vaccines commonly recommended.

How to prepare for delivery and postpartum care?

First-time mothers are usually worried about giving birth and may have questions that they are embarrassed to ask. Expectant mothers must talk to their doctor about every step of the journey, what is normal and what should raise a red flag. Having a birth plan is useful. It makes labour less stressful as everyone knows what to expect and who plays what role.

After the birth, mom's body barely has a chance to recuperate before it has to start taking care of the baby.

Postpartum, breastfeeding mothers should eat a variety of foods, avoid alcohol, caffeine and oily fish with high levels of mercury and drink plenty of liquids. Most doctors will also recommend continuing any prenatal vitamins prescribed, limiting junk food and exercises to lose weight safely. Mom’s body needs time to heal, so this is certainly not the time for crash diets and strenuous exercise!

Before the baby is born, nutrition is about what makes it through the placenta. After, it's all about strengthening mum and producing nutritious breast milk for baby. Even if they are not breastfeeding, balanced postpartum diet and exercise are crucial for the mother’s body and mind. Mothers who are less stressed and healthy can handle the demands of a new baby much better than those who are struggling with their health and hormonal imbalance.

This is a partnered post.

first published:September 24, 2019, 11:36 IST
last updated:September 24, 2019, 11:49 IST