Pregnancy is both a challenging and a joyous time for a woman. Carrying a little life can be a responsibility, particularly as everything the expectant mother does, affects the baby. An expectant mother has it drilled into her that she should eat for two to have a healthy baby and easy delivery. Doctors recommend specific diet plans for expectant mothers as their nutritional requirements are different and unique.
A pregnant mother needs an additional intake of 300 calories to provide for the new life growing inside her. Care must be taken to ensure that this intake consists of balanced, nutritious foods. This will support the good growth of the fetus and later on good lactation.
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An expectant mother needs to supplement her diet with the following nutrients over and above her normal intake;
1. Folic acid: 4 mg of Folic acid is required daily during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to provide for the development of the baby’s nervous system. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, liver, whole grains, beans, and citrus fruits
2. Iron: Iron is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cereals, and whole grains. This nutrient is essential for hemoglobin production for the mother and baby.
3. Calcium: 1200 mg of calcium is essential as the daily requirement of a pregnant mother to ensure the development of the baby’s bones and teeth.3-4 glasses of milk and a serving of cheese serve to meet this requirement.
4. Proteins: Fish, fruits, nuts, beans, and meat contain proteins which are the building blocks of the baby’s development.
A balanced diet during pregnancy would comprise of the following food groups split into 6 small meals a day. An expectant mother should ensure to drink 8-10 glasses of water every day to ensure proper expulsion of waste and toxins from her body and to maintain good blood circulation.
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- 1 serving of cooked meat = 1 ounce
- 1 serving of egg= 1 egg
- 1 serving of vegetable= ½ cup
- 1 serving of sauce/flavouring= 1 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 serving of bread= 1 slice
- 1 serving of cooked grains = ½ cup
- 1 serving of cereal/fruit = 1 cup or 1 medium-sized fruit
- Grains – 6-12 helpings every day
- Wholegrain bread, high-fiber cereal, wheat pasta, and oatmeal are good. Whole wheat crackers and brown rice is recommended.
- Vegetables – 5-7 helpings every day
- Green leafy vegetables, capsicum, tomatoes, pumpkin, green peas, bean
- Citrus fruits, apples, melons, strawberries, and bananas are good.
- Milk: 3-5 servings
- Low-fat milk, cheese, soy milk
It is best to avoid shellfish during pregnancy. Alcohol and caffeine must be avoided. To meet in-between hunger pangs, it is best to keep a snack box with almonds, raisins, walnuts, and pistachios handy. Sprouts are a good source of protein and are easy to carry as a snack. To combat nausea during preg.