Diet and Foods for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women require extra nutrition for adequate growth of the fetus and therefore, one should be cautious to include a variety of food products in diet to get all the required minerals and vitamins. In the first three weeks the gender of the baby is determined through the chromosomes of the father and a yolk sac is formed which provides nutrition to the baby. In the next three weeks, the liver, pancreas, intestines and bladder develop. Omega 3 and DHA is needed for the development of baby’s brain in the sixth or seventh week. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish but one should be cautious to not to take fish from river or lakes which contain pollutants.
In the eighth week the legs, eyes, ears and tip of nose develops, and in the tenth week lips and external genitalia develops. During this time adequate amount of yoghurt and milk is needed to meet the calcium requirements. Brains, lungs and liver continue to grow till the tenth week, and the finger nails and hair also start growing in this time. One should take adequate amount of water during this time to prevent dehydration and stress. By the end of first trimester, the face of the baby is almost developed and one can see the baby through ultrasound.
As the organs of the baby develop in subsequent trimesters, supplements of various vitamins are required to fulfill the growing needs such as (excess should be avoided).
Folic acid is required for the development of the nervous system of the baby. It is a form of vitamin B which is found in small quantities in many fruits and vegetables, and it is also found in fish. Intake of 4 mg of folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects in baby. Folic acid is also found in citrus fruits, beans, liver, spinach, kale and yeast.
It is needed for the production of hemoglobin. It is needed for proper growth of bones and teeth. Expecting mothers may suffer from anemia if they are not taking adequate amount of iron. Food items rich in iron are green leafy vegetables, raisins, potatoes, dates, broccoli and whole grain breads.
Calcium: Calcium is needed for the growth of bones, and it is found in dairy products and green leafy vegetables.
Proteins: Adequate amount of proteins is needed for the formation of new cells and it is found in milk, eggs, lean meat and fish. Vitamin B6 is required for proper utilization of proteins and it is found in many fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C: It is required for providing immunity to the body against infections and for absorption of iron. It is found in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is lost in over heated or overcooked vegetables.
Water and fiber: It is required for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract. Everyday good amount of water should be taken as the mother to be may suffer from constipation in the first trimester and dehydration can lead to premature babies. One can take fruit juices and milk to take more fluids. Avoid alcohol, smoking and reduce intake of tea, coffee and carbonated drinks.