- Folic acid
If you are planning on having a baby, you should start taking a folic acid (folate) supplement. It prevents your baby from getting an illness called Spina bifida, which causes parts of the spine in the embryo to close incompletely.
Folic acid is very effective, especially if taken very early on during pregnancy, which is why you should take it once you are pregnant or even better, once you start trying for a baby.
It's difficult to get enough folate through eating alone, but if you can't access supplements, make sure you eat a lot of leafy green vegetables and avocados. You might want to look into taking special pregnancy vitamins that contain folic acid and other vitamins and minerals you need.
Read more about folic acid.
- Do I need to eat for two?
No. You will need to eat a little more than usual to ensure that the baby can develop healthily, but you don't need to eat twice as much. This could lead to excess baby weight, which can create complications later. If you’re not over or under weight, you will need about 300 to 500 kcal more every day in the second and third trimester.
Some women are afraid to put on weight or think that if they eat less, labour will be easier and they won't have to work hard to get rid of the baby weight. But this can lead to serious complications for the mum as well as the baby, so you should avoid dieting or starving yourself.
- What should you eat?
The healthier, the better! Try to eat a balanced diet with carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta), proteins (meat, eggs, beans) and lots of vegetables and fruit. Try not to eat too much fat, sugar and salt during pregnancy.
Make sure that you wash your fruits and vegetables well before eating them. If you get sick easily, you might want to stay away from salads and uncooked vegetables. Your raw chicken and poultry shouldn't touch any other food, and you need to wash knifes and plates that have touched raw poultry thoroughly before using them for other food.
Here are some more ideas suited to what’s available in India.
- What should you avoid?
You should stay away from alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs when you’re pregnant. Those can seriously harm your baby.
Also avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs, fish and meat, liver and other innards and drinking coffee and other drinks with caffeine. When you drink milk and eat cheese, make sure that it has been pasteurised (heated after milking to kill bacteria).
Because it can contain mercury, you shouldn't have more than two portions of fish a week.
Also, not that you would eat it (!), but if you have a cat, don't clean the litter box. Bacteria in the cat poo can make your baby sick.
- Nausea and morning sickness
Many women feel nauseous or ever vomit often, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. This is quite normal, but can be very annoying. There are a few things you can do to reduce the nausea. Try to eat very small meals. Eating in the morning, right after getting up, can settle an uneasy stomach. Small sips of ginger tea can help with the nausea. And in general, only eat what you feel like eating. You might want to eat only bland food, or have strange cravings – that's all okay! Listening to your body and trying different approaches will be the best way to deal with morning sickness and nausea.
Just make sure you drink a lot of water and fluids, especially if you have been vomiting. If your problems are severe and don't get better, discuss this with your doctor.
Have you got any questions regarding nutrition during pregnancy? Leave a comment below or via Facebook.