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Pregnancy is physiologically and nutritionally a high demanding period. Extra food is required to meet the requirements of the fetus. The diet of a pregnant woman should contain an additional 350 Calories. Thus, pregnant women are encouraged to gain weight. However, this weight gain should be within the gestational guidelines. To know more about the gestational weight gain limits, please call us. Weight gain beyond the recommended range is associated with increased risk for maternal health and child health.

The following guidelines need to be observed.
Eat more food during pregnancy. Weight gain should be within the recommended range. As a rule of thumb, optimal weight gain should be around 10 kg. Eat more whole grains, sprouted grams and fermented foods. Take milk/meat/eggs in adequate amounts. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Avoid superstitions and food taboos. Do not use alcohol and tobacco. Take medicines only when prescribed. Take iron, folic acid and calcium supplements under the guidance of a health care provider.
Special attention need to be paid toward iron and folic acid intake.

Eat iron rich foods. Iron is needed for hemoglobin synthesis, mental function and body defense. Deficiency of iron leads to anemia. Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases maternal mortality and low birth weight in infants. Plant foods like legumes and dried fruits contain iron. Iron is also obtained through meat, fish and poultry products. Iron bio-availability is poor from plant foods but is good from animal foods. Fruits rich in vitamin C like gooseberries (amla), guava and citrus fruits improve iron absorption from plant foods. Beverages like tea bind dietary iron and make it unavailable. Hence, they should be avoided before, during or soon after a meal. Iron intake from diets is around 18 mg as against 35 mg RDA. An iron supplement (60 mg elemental iron, 100 mg folic acid) is recommended for 100 days during pregnancy from 16 week onwards to meet the demand of pregnancy.

Pregnant women need more of folic acid. Folic acid is essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin. Folic acid deficiency leads to macrocytic anemia. Folic acid supplements increase birth weight and reduce congenital anomalies. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and liver are good sources of folic acid. 500 g folic acid supplementation is advised pre-conceptionally and throughout pregnancy for women with history of congenital anomalies (neural tube defects, cleft palate)
Avoid alcohol if you are pregnant, especially during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Alcohol should be strictly avoided if you are on medication that can interact with alcohol. Alcohol should also be avoided if you have medical conditions that could be worsened by drinking.

Other important guidelines

Women who are pregnant should consume around 3 to 5 kg of seafood per week. A variety of seafood types need to be eaten. Avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel due to their methyl mercury content. The nutritional value of seafood is of particular importance during fetal growth and development. Intake of seafood according to the guidelines is therefore essential. Omega-3-fatty acids, in particular DHA, available through seafood intake are associated with improved infant health outcomes, such as visual and cognitive development.
Women who are pregnant are more susceptible than others to the effects of foodborne illnesses such as salmonellosis and listeriosis. In some cases these illnesses prove fatal to pregnant woman. They need to take special care to keep foods safe and to not eat foods that increase the risk of foodborne illness. They should eat foods that have been cooked to recommended safe minimum internal temperatures. They should not consume unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods or juices made from raw milk. Meats need to be reheated to steaming hot to kill listeria, the bacteria that cause listerosis. Raw sprouts should not be eaten as they may contain harmful bacteria.

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