Pregnancy nutrition plan
Pregnancy is a part of our life. Women actively experience it but her partner, as well as her family, also go through the procedure passively. Maintaining a good nutrition during this period remains an essential part during this time. This is not only important for the future baby but also for the mother herself. Most of the time we forget the later issue.
How can a mother ensure proper nutrition during her pregnancy period-- a very common question but not asked much, I think, at least in the region where I used to be. There are qualified doctors, nutritionists available and at the same time, there is much information out there both offline and on the internet. Even though, sometimes all these become insufficient due to various reasons. Being a doctor, I felt the problem more deeply. I'll try to show some ways to solve the problem as much possible as I can.
When my wife was pregnant, I guided her dietary intake. Even then I faced the problem as I couldn't monitor her activities regularly due to my work in ICU. For this, she had to face some problems related to inappropriate dietary intake.
Problems were like fatigue, cramps, low back pain, leg cramps, etc. These are not felt at a time. These were distributed throughout her pregnancy. I had to face one after another. One problem arose, one solved. Some problems were mechanical. Some were nutritional. I started managing accordingly. But the nutritional problem wasn't fully resolved, though.
At the process of solving problem, I thought, I should let her know the adverse effects of poor nutrition. If she could understand the problem, then she would be able to put adequate attention to her diet and most of her problem could be solved as she sees the benefit. I'll then just need to instruct her, and she'll follow.
I told her that a pregnant woman requires some extra energy, vitamins, minerals. She should have a pregnancy nutrition plan to ensure proper intake of this additional energy, vitamins and minerals. Because, the extra requirement amount is not equal in each trimester of gestation and not only that, these also vary according to age, existing nutritional status, etc. So she should know the requirements and make nutrition plan accordingly.
I ensured some extra meal besides her major meals. So that she gets the extra nutrients, she requires for our baby. As pregnancy advanced, major meals started to cause some problem as growing baby in the uterus occupied most spaces within the abdomen. For that meal began to cause cramp. So I cut the size of her major meal and increased the frequency of meal thus reducing cramps and ensuring proper nutrition.
One of the annoying problem during my wife's pregnancy was leg cramps. It's usual in pregnancy but not normal if it's mechanical but not normal if the cause remains in calcium deficit. She couldn't eat as much as she needed. I checked her calcium level and found it around lower limit of normal range. I then ensured calcium reach food in addition to oral calcium tablet. It helped her in the reduction of her leg cramps.
If you can understand how the nutrition affects your baby's growth, you'll try to follow your doctor's advice. It's our common habit not to follow any instruction especially any restriction.
During pregnancy, you need to take extra meal as well as you need to avoid having some food. If you can't resist yourself from taking that food, you could harm your baby. So you need to know which food to avoid and follow it strictly. Sometimes you need to avoid even when the products are labeled as pregnancy safe as most of the times there is very little information for supporting such claims.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy:
- High Mercury-containing seafood
- Fish of polluted water
- Raw/half boiled egg
- Raw or undercooked fish
- Raw fruits and vegetables without washing
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- Excess vitamin A
Drinks to avoid during pregnancy:
- Excess caffeine
- Herbal tea
There are some nutritional requirements, deficiency of which may lead to the development of birth defect (Folic acid). For this pregnant women take prenatal vitamins. My wife also advised taking vitamins.
Sometimes during her pregnancy when I asked her about whether she took that day's vitamin pills or not, I was told that she forgot to take the pill. If she knew how important this is, then she would have tried some alternative to avoid forgetting to take her pills. We then discussed the issue and used the mobile alarm system ensure a regular intake of vitamins.
One should focus on the following vitamins and minerals during pregnancy:
- Adequate protein - at least 70 gm/day
- Iron - 25 milligrams/day
- Folic acid - 800 mcg/day
- Calcium - 1300 IU/day
- Vitamin D - 600 IU/day
A proper pregnancy nutrition plan should cover all these factors. I had plans but not a proper one. I should have been more careful, I think. My baby's birth weight was 5.5 lbs. A little small for date. Now her body weight is 18 lbs. According to her age body weight should be 21 lbs. As she started with less, couldn't catch up. But thankfully it's not that much less. What I want to say is, we should have good pregnancy nutrition plan for both the mother and the baby.