Since the growth needs at the starting of life are crucial, good nutrition is a must for the expectant as well as nursing mother.
Energy needs: As growth of the foetus is very rapid in the second half of pregnancy, it is important that the increased need for energy is met. Enough energy rich and healthy foods should be supplied to ensure that the dietary protein is used for building new tissues and not meet the need for energy. If the mother is within a few kilogram's of the ideal weight for her body build, a gradual weight gain of up to 9-10kg appears to be desirable. At the same time it is very important for those women gaining too much weight may be advised to restrict their weight gain during pregnancy.
Protein needs: Additional protein is necessary for growth of the foetus, new maternal tissues and to prepare the mother for lactation and the aim should be to get good quality protein like milk, eggs, fish, chicken, pulses, etc.
Mineral needs: The need for minerals which form a part of body structure is increased with pregnancy. Calcium and phosphorus are needed for formation of bones and teeth. The teeth formation starts early in prenatal life so it is important that the mother gets sufficient calcium from the beginning of pregnancy. Iron is needed for the synthesis of additional volume of blood and other tissues formed during development of the foetus. The foods rich in iron should be emphasised in the diet and the mother should continue to eat a diet high in iron after delivery also to make up for some losses at the time of child birth.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting may be common in early part of pregnancy. A high carbohydrate diet, consisting of bland preparations given as small frequent feedings, is likely to be beneficial. It is advisable to avoid strong flavours, stimulants, additives, etc., and spicy and fried foods.
It is one of the complaints in pregnancy and there is general trend in reducing physical activity which is not advisable under normal conditions as regular exercise helps in clearing up the bowel on a daily basis. Generally, some of the aids to regular elimination which help in all stages of life, may be practised every day to maintain good health in pregnancy:
Drink plenty of water every day; a glass of water taken before breakfast is often helpful and some people find warm water more helpful than cold.
- Eat the right foods — plenty of vegetables and fruits, especially green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, raw salads, whole grains, etc.
- Eat slowly and eat small, frequent meals.
- Take some exercise daily to help movement, improve breathing and help the body to relax.
Monika Seth/Nutritionist and diet consultant specialising in weight loss at Al Raffah Hospital