Happy Pregnancy – 1 : Balanced Diet during Pregnancy

– Dr. Vidhya Selvam, MBBS, MS, DNB, MRCOG(UK)

Dr. Vidhya Selvam is an obstetrician, Gynaecologist, Fertility Specialist and a laparoscopic Surgeon.  She specializes in Infertility counselling and treatment, antenatal and postnatal care, vaginal delivery and caesarean section, gynaec procedures, laparoscopic surgeries and obstetric Ultrasound Scan.  She practices as an Assistant Professor in a private medial college in Chennai, India.  She is a Member of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG), UK. 

Your pregnancy test shows two lines? Congratulations! Welcome to pregnancy.  Yeah, I can understand.  You have crossed the period of celebration and now with a plate full of questions. All types of questions must be with you, what should I do, when should I do, how should I do and in this era of information, why should I do. In this section, you would get answers for all your questions and some more.  Shall we start?

pregnancy test

The very common and important question is about food. Let us look at it.

What should I eat?

Eat healthy balanced diet. And no, don’t eat for two.  Your baby is still a group of cells.  He/she doesn’t need one extra idly now ?

What is a healthy balanced diet?

Food containing carbohydrates, fat, protein and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals in appropriate proportion.

What carbohydrate rich food shall I take and how much?

Let 40 to 50% of your food be constituted with carbohydrates.  Take carbohydrates that have low glycaemic index.

Why?

In pregnancy, all hormones tend to increase your blood glucose.  It is a nature’s way of sustaining adequate glucose for developing baby. Insulin is the single hormone carrying the whole burden of maintaining it within the normal range.  Foods with high glycaemic index release all their glucose immediately into the blood like ice cream, cake, refined sugar and that is like giving a blow on our pancreas to secrete more insulin. However, food with low glycaemic index like fruits, vegetables, chickpeas, lentils release glucose slowly and that doesn’t put the extra strain on insulin.

What is protein rich food?

If you are a non-vegetarian, take egg white.  Other foods are liver(goat), chicken, sea foods.  If you are a vegetarian, take pulses. We steam them to get sundals, right? Take one bowl daily.

How can I know I take appropriate amount of fat?

Use vegetable oils for cooking.  There is many more hidden fats in our regular diet.  That would give the required fatty acids.

Where do I get vitamins and minerals?

Folic Acid – Take Folic Acid in the form of tablets as prescribed by doctor.  Demand for folic acid increases during pregnancy as it is needed for new cell formation and our baby is a bundle of new cells.  So, take folic acid tablets regularly.

Iron – Non-vegetarian food is rich in iron.  For vegetarians, take greens.  Especially drumstick leaves, jaggery, millets are rich in iron. After fifth month you will be asked to take one or two tablets of iron depending on your haemoglobin level.

Calcium – This is required in the form of tablets from fifth month.

For all other vitamins and minerals, take green vegetables. Take at least one portion of vegetables each day.

Avoid Vitamin-A supplements during pregnancy.  It can harm the baby.

Water – Take plenty of water. Keep yourself well hydrated. You can avoid number of complications by following this single step.

I am having nausea and vomiting.  I am not able to eat all these.  What can I do?

Don’t worry.  Take as much as possible.  Don’t force yourself to eat a lot.  Your baby will get all the nutrients stored in your body and grow well.  Once the nausea and vomiting wanes off by 5th month, you can restore the lost nutrients by taking a healthy diet.

Junk foods? Food with chemical preservatives?

A big NO.  It spoils your health.  It invites many pregnancy complications.

Okay dear to be mothers.  If you have any specific doubt to be clarified, contact me at doctor@peribytes.com or comment in this article.  Based on your question, it will be answered directly or in the next article.  Your questions can be anonymous.  Let us see in the next article with lot more information.

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