Without a doubt, pregnancy is an exciting time. It is also a period when extra care needs to be taken. This care comes in the form of differing ideas and advice from mom’s, aunt’s or neighbour’s in the best pregnancy diet. What is eaten during pregnancy will play a crucial role in the unborn baby’s growth, development and health.
To avoid skipping or missing some important food groups due to plethora of unstructured advice, a pregnancy diet should be divided into 4 food categories- lean protein, carbohydrates, dairy and fruits and vegetables.
A healthy pregnancy diet needs only 300 calories extra (approximate) and 15- 20 gms of protein daily in the second and third trimester. The recommended portion size and calorie needs vary as per individuals but the focus should be on improving the quality of calories rather than just increasing them.
An ideal pregnancy diet should include nearly four servings of protein and calcium rich foods, abundant green leafy and yellow vegetables, fruits and rich sources of iron. Sufficient iron in food ensures that the baby gets a proper blood supply and the pregnant mother is not deficient in energy levels. Foods rich in folic acid like strawberries, kiwis are important to prevent various birth defects in your unborn baby, especially neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.
A large amount of energy in the pregnancy diet should come from complex carbohydrates and whole grains accompanied by at least six to eight glasses of fluids to maintain adequate level of amniotic fluid in the womb.
From breast feeding to erratic sleeping cycles, infancy is demanding on mothers. In between fighting physical exhaustion and emotional changes, women often ignore their own nourishment. In fact the biggest mistake they do is diverting their attention to shedding those extra kilos in a rush. But most of them do not realise that they need more nutrition than before to nourish their new born child.
Lactating mothers need a healthy eating plan to include some essential nutrients in more quantity because now what you eat is what the child absorbs.
A lactation die tenhances the milk composition and production and also fortifies the mother’s body with some essential nutrients especially needed during lactation. The following are the ‘must have’ in a lactation diet.
- Galactogogues:This is a herb used to increase breast milk production in nursing mothers. A lactation diet rich in galactogogues will incorporate garlic, spinach, fenugreek, chickpea, ginger, papaya, flaxseed and spices like fennel, cumin and turmeric. These foods not only contain the galactogogues herb but also make the lactation diet rich in iron, vitamin A, B complex, antioxidants, protein and fibre – all of these necessary for the infant’s brain health.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: These fatty acids support the baby’s brain and eye development, improve motor skills, immune system, reduce the severity of allergic diseases and also reduce post partum depression in mothers. A lactation diet should include omega 3 from natural sources like salmon, tuna, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and flaxseeds.
- Thiamine: Thiamine defiant breast milk leads to cases of severe mental retardation, cognitive under development and disease called ‘Beri-Beri’ in infants. A lactation diet rich in thiamine will include nuts, oats, eggs, seeds, beans, legumes, yeast (breads) and rice.
Chose a healthy lactation diet for healthy infants and a happy motherhood.