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Healthy Eating and Vitamin Supplements in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time to take good care of your health. Both diet and exercise are essential for a healthy life, especially when you are pregnant. A pregnant woman needs more nutrients than the average adult as she needs to eat for the baby too. What you eat during your pregnancy can influence not just your postpartum health but your baby’s health too. So, what about supplements during pregnancy? Should you stick to healthy eating or take supplements too? Come, let’s find out!

Book an online appointment with Dr. Abhishek Aggarwal for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues

Importance of Healthy Eating In Pregnancy

With all the nausea, food aversions, and cravings, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy. Healthy eating may not seem feasible for many pregnant women. You are more tired than usual and barely have the energy or motivation to cook and eat healthy.

If you are struggling to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy or don’t know what foods to eat and avoid, here is a quick reference.

Safe Foods During Pregnancy

Here are some safe foods you can and must consume regularly during pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different. So, if you are having food aversions or allergies, you need to consult a dietician and make a customized pregnancy meal plan according to your needs.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of various essential nutrients. While eating fresh fruits and vegetables may seem like the best option, pregnant women must be careful. Raw fruits and vegetables can contain bacteria that can be unsafe during pregnancy. It is a safer option to cook, steam, or boil your vegetables before eating. The heat will kill all the bacteria and make it safer.
  • Starchy Foods – Contrary to popular belief that starchy foods or vegetables are unhealthy, they are a great source of constant energy. You need a steady supply of energy during pregnancy as your body is busy working to support the baby all the time. Include bread, millet, potatoes, maize, rice, oats, yams, and cereals in your regular diet. Opt for low-fat or oil-free options wherever possible.
  • Protein – Include more protein-rich foods like beans, pulses, fish, eggs, nuts, and lean meat. Protein is essential for the growth of tissues, brain, and organs in the baby.
  • Dairy – Dairy products contain calcium and other important nutrients for the baby’s growth. If you are not lactose intolerant, include more dairy products in your regular diet.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, try to avoid the following foods as much as possible. An occasional meal containing these foods is okay. Just ensure these do not become the major component of your regular pregnancy diet:

  • Certain Types of Meat and Fish – Avoid eating rare or even medium-rare meat as they can contain bacteria. Always opt for well-cooked meat. Avoid fish that are high in mercury. Limit your fish intake to just two portions a week. Avoid sharks, swordfish, and mackerel.
  • Processed Foods - Processed foods contain a lot of additives. Sodium content will also be high.
  • Sugary Foods – Sugary treats or baked goods may satisfy your pregnancy craving but will increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Snacking in Pregnancy

Pregnancy can make you feel hungry all the time. It can be tempting to grab anything edible and eat, as preparing a healthy snack or cooking a meal every time you feel hungry can be tiresome. Many pregnant women end up eating unhealthy foods for a snack, thinking it is just a small quantity.

Opt for homemade dips and soups that you can make ahead of time and store. You can have fresh vegetables with the dip and heat just a portion of the soup when you are hungry. You can also stock peeled and cut fruits to make your fruit salad bowls. Dry fruits and unsalted nuts are also great snack options.

Vitamin Supplements in Pregnancy

By following a healthy eating habit, you can get most of the pregnancy vitamin requirement from your food sources. However, you need to take supplements to ensure you are getting enough of certain vitamins. One of the most common questions from pregnant women is, “What vitamins should I take in pregnancy?” Some of the important vitamins a pregnant must take are:

1. Folic Acid

Our bodies do not make vitamin D on their own, and standing under the sun does not give us enough vitamin D. A pregnant woman needs 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day throughout her pregnancy and even when breastfeeding, especially during winter.

Increase your intake of vitamin D food sources like eggs and oily fish. If you are a pure vegetarian or a vegan diet, your doctor will prescribe vitamin D supplements (higher dose or longer duration)

Remember, too much vitamin D is not safe. So, if you are on any other medications or taking supplements on your own, you should discuss it with your doctor first.

2. Multivitamins

If you are suffering from severe morning sickness that is preventing you from eating and retaining nutritious foods, your doctor will prescribe multivitamins tablets. Some doctors may prescribe these tablets for just the first few weeks. If your vitamin levels are low or just on borderline level, your doctor might prescribe multivitamins until your levels are better. It is essential to support the body’s requirements through food sources too.

3. Iron

If you suffer from anaemia during pregnancy, your doctor will give you iron supplements. In some cases, the doctor might prescribe iron tablets in the first trimester and move on to multivitamins in the second trimester if they feel you might become anemic

5. Calcium

Calcium is vital for developing the baby’s bones and teeth. If you are low on your calcium levels, your doctor will prescribe calcium supplements too. You should also increase your consumption of calcium-rich foods.

Also Read : Role of Vitamin D in Pregnancy Diet

Conclusion

Pregnancy is a crucial time for both the mother and the baby. What the mother consumes during pregnancy can set the tone for the baby’s health for the rest of their lives. Not consuming enough nutrients can affect the baby’s growth and development in the long run. It is important to consult a doctor and have a diet plan to ensure all essential nutrition needs are met during pregnancy.

FAQs

1. Can you take vitamins and supplements while pregnant?

Yes, you can take vitamins and supplements during pregnancy after getting approval from your gynecologist or dietician. Your doctor will help you understand which supplements are safe and how much you should consume. Over-consumption of supplements, even pregnancy-safe ones, is not advisable.

2. Which multivitamin is best for pregnancy?

Multivitamins that contain both folic acid and vitamin D are recommended for pregnant women. Your doctor will prescribe vitamin supplements depending on your body’s requirements during pregnancy.

3. What food supplement is good for pregnant women?

Vitamin D, folic acid, iron, and calcium supplements are very important for pregnant women. If your diet is not nutritious, a multivitamin supplement can also help meet your pregnancy requirements.

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