Your baby is what you eat. Your diet before, during and after pregnancy is the most important determinant factor of your health as well as the health of your baby. Research shows that maternal nutrition not only affects the health of the baby but his susceptibility to disease during adult life. Healthy eating should be a way of life, especially when you are nurturing another life within you.
Pre conceptual Care: Overweight females find it difficult to conceive. If you are planning a baby, and you are overweight, reduce weight first. Begin on a healthy note with healthy eating. Plan your diet for reducing weight and also for maintaining proper nutrition. Cut down on your intake of anti-nutrients such as caffeine, deep-friend foods, cigarettes, alcohol and also painkillers. This ensures healthy conception.
Research shows fifty essential nutrients are needed for proper growth and development of the foetus, of which folic acid is of prime importance. Lack of folic acid causes neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida and other congenital deformities of neural tube. It is a birth defect in which the spinal cord does not develop fully.
Folic acid is extremely crucial for foetal brain development in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Most women do not know they have conceived till they fail to menstruate. That is why; it is of utmost importance that all women of childbearing age consume more than one food which is rich in folic acid.
Good Sources Of Folic Acid:
- black eye beans chickpeas.
- peanuts, sprouting beans. pumpkin, carrot, spinach, green-leafy vegetables.
- broccoli, lettuce.
If you gain excess weight during your pregnancy, it is less likely that you will revert to your original size. Normal weight gain is within the range of 10-13 kg. Excess weight gain can lead to complications like hypertension, preeclampsia , caesarean sections, and extra large baby. Extra large babies can have lots of problems, like diabetes, obesity in later life, and associated problems of obesity. It also means extra weight to burn off after the baby is born.
The amount of fat cells your baby will have is determined in the foetal stage, so your diet must not be too rich in fat. Nevertheless, some fat gain is vital for pregnancy. Compensate with nutrient rich foods and healthy fats found in nuts and oily fish.
Trying to lose weight during pregnancy can be dangerous. Underweight mothers suffer from infections and may give birth to “small for date” babies. Eating for two may be a myth but your calorie demands naturally increase with pregnancy. An average weight person needs only 300 more calories than normal to maintain pregnancy. However, some women reduce their activity, which means normal calorie intake is fine.
If your BMI is more than 25 at the time of conception body weight increase during pregnancy should be little less than normal person. If BMI is less than 18.5 during conception weight gain during pregnancy should be about 15 kgs.
Most of the organs of the baby are formed during the first trimester (first 3 months of pregnancy), so during this period, optimum nutrition is extremely important. Yet at this time many women experience continual sickness (nausea & vomiting) and do not feel like eating.
Tips to alleviate nausea and vomiting:
- Eat anything you like to eat.
- Eat small quantity of food frequently. Avoid large meals, greasy of spicy foods.
- Get out of bed slowly, avoiding sudden movements.
- Eat some dry bread, biscuits of cereal in the morning.
- Try foods and drinks that have ginger, as it sometimes relieves nausea.
- Cold foods are better tolerated than hot foods since they are less aromatic.
- Do not lie down immediately after eating.
- Do not fast or remain hungry.
Ensure that your diet provides you with enough energy and nutrients for the baby to grow and for your body to deal with the changes taking place.
The burning question after pregnancy is, “Will I ever get my figure back?” Desperation to fit into your favorite outfit mounts every day. Avoid the temptation to go on a fad diet.
There is no need for any special food after childbirth. You will burn fat with increased physical activity and cutting down on sugary and oily foods. Breastfeeding helps to shed excess weight by burning more calories and mobilizing fat for the production of milk. It stimulates the uterus to contract to its pre-birth size. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise to get back a lean, firm body gradually. Walking is one of the best fat burning exercises for post partum women. Pelvic floor and abdominal exercises are also beneficial.
Now you have a baby, it’s a big responsibility. One of the greatest challenges is to provide proper nourishment and inculcate healthy eating habits in today’s snack culture. But in the long run, this is the greatest contribution you can make to your child’s development.