By Ambika Niranjan  on: 08 March 2018
Rate this: 
 5 Rating  based on 2 Reviews

PREGNANCY is all about -            

  • Carrying a blessing in your belly.
  • An infinite love blooming in your heart.
  • Thinking about yourself second and your child first.
  • Anxiously waiting to hold your child for the first time.

These things will remind every mother reading this, her days of pregnancy, her days of blessing. These days have also left some unwanted and unforgettable memories in a few mothers. Some memories in their mind and for some on their body. Yes, you read it right.

The memories and the thoughts of being hungry, nauseous, tired, can’t sleep, terrified, thrilled, anxious, pregnant and all those tantrums which made your 9 months of pregnancy a miserable time leaving you with gestational diabetes, anemic, hypertension, thyroid hormone imbalances, c-section, underweight baby, loss of blood from the mother, hospitalizations, baby born with defects, sudden abortions and in some worst case scenario, death of the baby.

Most of these scenarios could have been and can be avoided by taking your pregnancy not just as a blessing, and for some who take it as a disease, but also as a responsibility. Coming to responsibility, many of the men out there might be avoiding the reading of this section by assuming that, pregnancy is all about ladies. The responsibility of the successful pregnancy and this piece of reading is also for every man out there whose mother, sister, friend, colleague, wife, and neighbor and also daughter will be pregnant someday. By gaining the knowledge on how to have a healthy pregnancy and the maximum outcome of it will ensure that such above mentioned scenarios can be avoided to a great extent and that can be achieved by eating right before and during the pregnancy. Pregnancy is not about just those 9 months, it’s all about giving birth to a new life, for which your body needs preparation way before time by eating right, taking the right supplements and adopting the right activities.

The woman who enters pregnancy with full nutrient stores, sound eating habits, and a healthy body weight has done much to ensure an optimal pregnancy outcome. Then, during pregnancy itself, if she eats a variety of nutrient-dense foods, her own and her infants health will benefit further. And the infants, who are well nourished in the womb, have an enhanced chance of entering life in good physical and mental health. The effects of under nutrition during reproduction will vary depending upon the nutrients involved, the length of time it is lacking and the stage of gestation at which it occurs. If women are underweight before pregnancy, with poor nutritional status, lead to Low Birth weight infants, premature spontaneous rupture of membranes, infection and anemia.

Ever imagined how all this happens? Right from early stages when the embryo is just about 2 inches long to a fetus growing at a tremendous pace increasing in size and weight from mere 15grams to 2700grams around the 40th week. To support this rapid growth, which includes formation of bone, production of blood, building of muscles, brain, other tissues, the fetus solely depends upon the nutrients supplied by the mother and the mother can supply all these nutrients adequately when she is on a good nutrition regimen giving the body all the required vitamins and minerals and facilitating their better absorption with the right combination.

We have always heard about our ancestors asking us to eat more during pregnancy, as the mother is the only source from where the growing baby can acquire all the nutrients for proper growth. Well, all they meant is eating energy dense foods rich in proteins, fats, carbohydrates and the vitamins and minerals which have their own roles to play in the protection of the mother and in the development of the baby.

ENERGY –  we need more energy dense foods during pregnancy for

  • Growth and physical activity of the fetus.
  • Growth of the placenta and maternal tissue,
  • Increase in maternal body size and fat deposition (gradual increasing of subcutaneous fat in the abdomen, back and upper thighs serves as energy reserve for pregnancy and lactation).
  • Carrying the weight of the fetus and extra maternal tissues.
  • The fat accumulated throughout pregnancy (specially the first 30 weeks) acts as an energy reserve.
  • When the supply of calories is inadequate, the fat and tissue may be used up to provide high energy needs of the rapidly growing fetus and leaving the mother’s health in a bad condition.
  • Energy dense foods during pregnancy apart from rice and wheat are – bajra, jowar, maize, ragi, roots and tubers, etc.

PROTEIN -  Extra protein is required during pregnancy for

  • The rapid growth of the fetus
  • Enlargement of uterus, mammary glands and placenta.
  • Increase in maternal circulating blood volume.
  • Formation of amniotic fluid and storage reserves for labor, delivery and lactation.
  • Transfer of amino acids from mother to fetus.

If protein requirement are not met during pregnancy:

  • There is increased risk of pregnancy.
  • Fetus may grow at the expense of mother.
  • Maximum growth of the baby cannot be obtained.
  • Less number of brain cells.
  • Protein rich foods during pregnancy are – chicken, fish, eggs, every kind of lentils, legumes, cheese, paneer, etc.

FATS:  The requirement of fats in the form of EFA’s are very high during pregnancy as these are very essential to the formation of new tissues. A pregnant woman’s diet should contain minimum 20% of fat. These fats relax muscles and blood vessels of the uterus and makes delivery easier. Lack of fats in diet adversely affects pregnancy outcome. Hence, dietary intake of these is very vital during pregnancy as these are also important for neural development and growth. Fatty acids rich sources are oils, ghee, walnuts, fish, peanuts, meat, eggs.

CALCIUM:    The requirement of calcium doubles during pregnancy.

  • For the calcification of fetal bones and teeth and also for protection of calcium resources of the mother to meet the high demands during lactation.
  • The amount of dietary calcium needed is reduced when Vitamin D is available.
  • Use of Vitamin D and calcium reduces muscular cramps of pregnancy.
  • Adequate amount of vitamin D and calcium is required to prevent osteomalacia (weakening of the bones).
  • It is essential to meet the calcium needs during pregnancy to conserve the mother’s bone mass as the fetal bones begin to calcify in the last trimester.
  • Milk and its products like cheese, paneer, curds are the locally available and inexpensive sources of calcium.
  • Low serum calcium levels lead to leg cramps during pregnancy. Adequate calcium and magnesium should be taken to relieve leg cramps.

VITAMIN D:   this vitamin is very important as it is required for maternal calcium absorption. Deficiency during pregnancy results in neonatal hypocalcemia and hypoplasia. Excess Vitamin D results in complications like atherosclerosis, hypercalcemia, calcium deposit in organs and mental retardation in infants. Exposure to sunlight is usually sufficient to provide the recommended amount of Vitamin D during pregnancy. Vitamin D and calcium are also useful to reduce muscular cramps in pregnancy.

VITAMIN B9 (FOLIC ACID):  We all have known about the folic acid supplements during pregnancy and in some cases, even before we got pregnant but, little did we know about its work and the food which can provide us with folic acid and help us overcome the deficiency.

  • Needed for normal fetal growth
  • Prevents macrocytic anemia of pregnancy
  • Needed for synthesis of DNA & RNA, as the requirement increases during growth.
  • Needed for development of RBC’s as the blood volume of women increases during pregnancy.
  • Deficiency of folic acid may lead to spontaneous abortion and labor complications such as preterm labor and low birth weight infants.
  • Most important to prevent neural tube defects like, spina bifida.
  • Can also lead to anencephaly – absence of brain in the fetus.
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension.
  • Also leads to selective spontaneous abortion of defective fetuses.
  • The foods that can give you natural forms of folic acid are – dark leafy vegetables, legumes, soya, almonds and peanuts.
  • Ever wondered how women in the previous era delivered healthy babies even without folic acid supplementation in the earlier ages, because they did eat healthy and energy dense foods, had active lifestyle and included all these locally available and not so difficult to find foods in their everyday diet.

IRON:    There is an increased requirement of Iron during pregnancy.

  • Required for better growth of fetus and placenta.
  • For the high levels of Hemoglobin storage in the infant which will be stored in the infant’s body and help survive for 3 to 6 months.
  • For the increase in the Hemoglobin levels as the maternal blood volume increases in the second trimester
  • due to increased production of hemoglobin in mother.
  • Iron rich foods – meat, liver, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, cereals such as wheat, ragi, jowar and bajra, pulses, jaggery, and dried fruits. 
  • Ladies craving to eat nonfood substances like laundry starch, clay or ice cubes is due to the deficiency of calcium or iron. Some ladies believe these to be normal symptoms of pregnancy and ignore them. Including nutrient rich foods will help women overcome this symptom.

VITAMIN C:   The antioxidant vitamin we all have known about, taking in the form of green tea, supplements, citrus fruits etc.

  • Taking Iron through foods should be accompanied by Vitamin C, as it enhances the absorption of iron (not when taking iron tablets)
  • Milk, tea and coffee inhibit iron absorption. So the supplement should be taken with any other liquids apart from these.
  • Low Vitamin C intake during pregnancy leads to premature rupture of fetal membranes, neonatal death and may also lead to preeclampasia (Hypertension during pregnancy)
  • Vitamin C rich foods are citrus fruits like lemon, orange, sweet lime, guava, amla, berries etc.

SODIUM:  We have all known about the unusual cravings during pregnancy occurring due to the hormonal and biochemical changes. Craving for foods like pickles, papads, chaat, fried foods with the fear of suffering from hypertension during pregnancy which usually occurs due to excess intake of sodium commonly known as salt. The fear is so much that some ladies during pregnancy restrict their intake of salt completely or to less than required.

  • Sodium restriction in diet during pregnancy can cause severe hormonal and biochemical changes.
  • Sodium deficiency can cause an increased risk of eclampasia, prematurity and low birth weight of infants.
  • Iodine deficiency can lead to abortion, still births, congenital anomalies and psychomotor defects.
  • So, do know the philosophy of moderation and do consume salt even when pregnant.
  • Pickle when taken in moderation acts as a probiotic which will maintain your gut health.
  • Limit your sodium intake by saying no to packed foods rich in salt like wafers, chips, ready to eat snacks and foods.

ZINC:   Zinc deficiency during pregnancy adds to the risk of LBW infants and also risk of preterm delivery. Zinc deficiency post-delivery during nursing leads to fetal mortality and malformations.

  • Foods rich in zinc are meat, sea foods, beans, seeds, and green leafs.

VITAMIN A:    Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy leads to night blindness, severe anemia and preterm deliveries in mother. Low retinol also leads to systolic hypertension.

  • Excess Vitamin A can be toxic to the fetus as this can cause malformations in fetus and also increased risk of birth defects.  So, do consult your nutritionist to know your requirement of this vitamin.
  • Vitamin A rich products – dairy products, fat spreads, eggs, carrots, leafy vegetables.

VITAMIN K:   Vitamin K produces prothrombin, needed for the normal coagulation of blood, needed to prevent neonatal haemorrhage.

  • Vitamin K rich foods are green leafy vegetables, dry fruits, meat, and dairy.

WATER SOLUBLE VITAMINS:  As these set of vitamins are not stored in the body, they need to be supplied every day to the body through our diet. These vitamins can be acquired by all the kinds of vegetables and fruits, etc. A few of them are explained here.

THIAMINE:  thiamine during pregnancy helps to relieve the nausea of pregnancy.

RIBOFLAVIN:   Low riboflavin may lead to skeletal malformations like shortening of bones and fusion of ribs.

VITAMIN B6:   Low Vitamin B6 results in high blood pressure, oedema and proteinuria during pregnancy. Also helps in controlling nausea during pregnancy.

ALCOHOL:  Alcohol consumption for anyone is not good. Just imagine about its effects when consumed during pregnancy.

  • High alcohol consumption during pregnancy may lead to reduced birth weight and length in child including small head, size and other abnormalities.
  • Can also show mental retardation and stunted physical growth. Absorption of B vitamins, antioxidants which protect us from the damage of free radicals and utilization of folate is also reduced by the consumption of alcohol in pregnancy.

CAFFEINE:   Tea or coffee first thing in the morning is bad for one’s health is known to all. But, excess of it during pregnancy has its own consequences to offer. More than 3 cups of caffeine a day lead to low birth weight infants and also spontaneous abortion.

  • Caffeine is present in most of the food items which we generally store in our kitchen and refrigerator like every kind of coffee, tea, drinking chocolates, energy drinks, aerated drinks, chocolates and flavored cakes and pastries.

Even after people know so much about good foods and nutrition during pregnancy, they still tend to avoid for the various reasons known to them. When not eating adequately, she supplies nutrients to the baby in the womb by withdrawing them from the tissues of her own body. This tissue depletion weakens her so much that she is unable to cope with the stress and strain of child bearing. Weight gain during pregnancy is ok, it’s ok to be fat in the normal range, but its not ok to deprive yourself of the nutrition and not taking care.

                Frequent visits to a family doctor and mainly a nutritionist will enable the pregnant woman to learn what she should eat to safeguard her health as well as for an uneventful pregnancy and deliver an strong and healthy baby.

                So, just make healthy choices for your baby, visit a nutritionist to know the requirements of your body and the baby growing in it and always remember “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined because you have a beautiful and healthy soul growing within you, so the best way to keep your baby healthy is to keep yourself healthy.”

 Related Blogs:
02 March 2018
HOLI – The festival of colors, family gatherings, parties, outings, loads of exertion and last but not the least, the sinful delights of food varieties around the corner that ranges from sweets, savories, chutneys, drinks to all the food items that have been dipped into the oil at high temperature burning themselves just to add the flavors to your tongue and satisfy your taste buds. We all look forward to celebrate holi with the beautiful bright colors, enjoy all the food but do not want to end up ruining our diet plans. So, here are a few tips that make sure that this holi, you don’t just have a happy and beautiful skin but a healthy and beautiful stomach as well. Since holi is celebrated in the start of the summer season, do keep your consumption of fried foods to the minimum and prevent yourself from indigestion and heart burn. Holi is a festival that needs a lot of energy. So, kick start your day with a banana, a fruit rich in potassium that will keep your blood pressure levels on check and will help you stay on your toes with its high energy content. Do keep munching healthy snacks in between. Besan ka cheela with mix veg paneer burji, moong dal thepla, idli with sambar and chutney, or green peas uttappam are the best high protein breakfast options to start your day with on this exerting day. We all understand our love for the festivals and the food items. Do keep the serving size very small so as to taste the food and not just indulge into it like there is no tomorrow. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and eat salads as snacks to curb your appetite for those large servings of sweets and chats. Do drink a minimum of 10 glasses of water to keep your body hydrated and cool when you spend all your day out in the scorching sun. Do try to attend some dance holi parties to keep yourself active and burn those extra calories you just ate deliberately. Last but not the least, do protect your skin by avoiding harsh colors and playing freely with gulal and herbal colors.                                                                                                                                                                                       Hope your life is framed with all the colors of love and happiness today and always. HAPPY HOLI!!!
16 March 2018
Fasting is observed by people for it is believed that, fasting can purify his/her mind, body and soul. Fasting is also observed so that our body is detoxified by all the toxins that are accumulated with our everyday eating habits and other practices.             This navratri fast observed twice a year, comes with many food restrictions to be followed. The same kind of fast is also observed for a day on ekadashi, janmashtami and mahashivaratri. This fasting can have a direct impact on your body and mind. Therefore, it requires an enormous sense of responsibility and a proper nutritional guideline while planning a fast during navratri to keep you energetic and healthy all through the day.             Hence, here are a few foods that are allowed to eat in fast, along with their benefits and overconsumption effects, so that you can plan your fast better, keeping yourself devoid of hunger pangs, lethargy, laziness, nausea or weakness. SABUDANA – Also called as tapioca pearls are the first food to come to our mind when we think of fasting. This energy loaded food is easy to digest and helps to cool your body temperature. Loaded with Vitamin C, Calcium and minerals, helps to keep you energetic throughput the day. High in potassium, good for regulating blood pressure and cardiovascular system, considered as a good antidote for hypertension. Rich in iron will keep your hemoglobin levels up even during fasts. Will help in healing digestive issues like bloating, constipation, indigestion, flatulence and acid reflux. BUCKWHEAT (KUTTU) – Not related to wheat family, this is a gluten free grain, so can be consumed by people with gluten intolerance. A food with low GI, also good for people who are diabetic. Will keep your blood sugar levels regulated even in the fasting state. With all the essential amino acids present, a very good source of protein. Its high fiber content will improve digestion and aid in weight loss. AMARANTH SEEDS (RAJGEERA) – A gluten free seed rich in calcium, will improve bone health. Rich in cysteine will help your hair stay strong and healthy. Slow to digest, will leave you feeling fuller for longer. One of the few food items containing lysine. Lysine helps the body absorb calcium and promotes bone health. Rich in potassium so will keep a check on your blood pressure levels. BARNYARD MILLET (SAMWAT KE CHAWAL) – A good source of digestible fiber and protein, so losing weight and gain lean muscle can be done together by eating this food. A food low on Glycemic Index, ideal staple on fast for people with diabetes. A good source of B-complex vitamins to keep you away from anemia and weakness. WATER CHESTNUT (SINGHARA) – A good water content and high in fiber, these are packed with all the essential nutrients. Gluten-free, low in saturate fat and cholesterol free, a good snack as tuber or a staple as flour (aata) during the fast. Low in sodium and high in potassium helps with hypertension. High in riboflavin, helps relieve symptoms of repeated headaches and migraines. Considerable amount of Vitamin E present helps with premenstrual and post menstrual symptoms. Also helps relieve the symptoms of dysentery and diarrhea. A good coolant to the body due to its high water content also helps in alleviating mood and good for sound sleep due to high Vitamin B6 content. FOX NUTS (MAKHANA) – One of those superior dry fruits, rich in protein, carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, a low calorie snack which you can munch to lose your weight. Low in fat and sodium, a good snack to beat your evening snack hunger pangs. Low in GI, a good snack for diabetics. Good for heart, reduces inflammation, helps with infertility and also flushes out toxins, good for liver and spleen, rich in calcium with so many benefits, the old style makhana has made a comeback as the new popcorns. SWEET POTATO (SHAKARKANDI) – These high in fiber tubers, will help you lose weight, also help in better digestion due to their magnesium content. Loaded with healthy vitamins, minerals and proteins, these keep you satiated for longer duration. A good immune booster as they are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin C, along with B complex vitamins. These have a soothing effect on stomach and intestines, hence used for reducing pain ulcers in the stomach. Rich in vitamin C, produces collagen that maintains your skin elasticity. High magnesium content in this acts as a anti-stress mineral and helps you relax better throughout the day. These are low in GI, and do not release glucose immediately in the blood after food, hence can be consumed by diabetics in the moderate level. So, these in the form of baked, roasted or occasionally even fried at home can be your new French fries. POTATO – Potato has been our regular staple vegetable for ages but being avoided now for a myth of gaining weight with it. Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium (good for people suffering from hypertension). Fat, sodium and cholesterol free. A good source of Vitamin B6 that helps all your carbohydrate and proteins consumed metabolize better. Potatoes look huge as they contain about 70-80% of water. Considering the myth that consuming potatoes make you fat, it depends upon the source of potatoes you opt for. If they are consumed in the form of fries or wedges or patties at fast food joints, then one is bound to gain weight. Knowing the right amount and right combination, potato can also be used as a food to help you lose weight. PUMPKIN – Apart from being used for Halloween decorations, pumpkin is known for its dense nutrient content rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. Rich in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant. Good potassium content so a positive effect on the blood pressure. These are also a good source of fiber helping you with constipation and promoting regular bowels. DRY FRUITS – Dry fruits are a must eat, whether on fast or not. These energy packed foods come with most unqiue and amazing health benefits. Dry fruits are packed full of energy and calories. These are a good to go snacks and keep you full for longer. A great alternative compared to all the other packed and processed snack foods. Some of the dry fruits are rich in antioxidants and plant polyphenols that help you fight heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, and degenerative diseases of the brain. Some of these contain high amount of beta carotene, vitamin E, niacin, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Prunes, raisins, apricots contain high levels of iron and prevent from anemia. Rich in potassium, vitamin A, fiber, copper, prunes help in maintaining high energy levels. Almonds help in the formation of new blood cells and help improve hemoglobin levels. A tasty and convenient snack, dry fruits and nuts are the ideal substitute for fast food high calorie junk snacks. With natural sugars and fiber, zero cholesterol and fats, and a variety of delectable flavors, these are an easy source of all essential nutrients.        MILK AND ITS PRODUCTS (PANEER, CREAM, GHEE, CURDS) – These are a must on everyday basis when on fast. While observing fasts, we do make some food restrictions that may leave you deprived of nutrition, especially proteins. Hence, milk products like paneer and curds are a very good source of protein that will maintain your muscle health. Ghee can be used to cook your food in, a fat which will help the stubborn fat in your body mobilize. Milk should be an everyday drink to fulfill your calcium requirements, provided you take it from a genuine vendor. FRUITS – Loaded with fiber, water, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, the seasonal fruits are the best to go snacks or meal on fast any day. Since fruits do contain natural form of sugar, diabetics can consume fruits but do need to keep a watch on the quantity. SOME USEFUL TIPS: Consuming fried foods during fasts may lead to gastric issues. Let there be more of roti made of any flour instead of poori and papads. Do keep yourself hydrated by sipping water all day. This will prevent you from feeling bloated and keeps your skin glowing. Always opt for whole fruits rather than fruit juices. The juicing will remove all the fiber, dense in calories and loaded with sugar. There may be only one complete meal in a day. Opt for small, frequent snacks in between. So, these are the food items along with their benefits that will help you add health and make you stronger and energetic even during fasting. HAPPY AND HEALTHY FASTING TO ALL!!!    
Ambika Niranjan

 View Profile

Nutritionist / Dietitian in Sec 119, Noida, India 

You become what you eat... It is always 80% food and 20% exercise... Don't starve to be healthy, rather eat healthy to be healthy.... These are some of the fitness mantras which prove to be so very true. For someone who was obese to 95kgs at the age of 21 to a person who has been on a rough roller coaster to achieve the ideal weight and the best shape with a naturally radiant and glowing skin.My journey to fight my obesity issues forced me to learn more and transform myself into a completely new and energetic me overloaded with confidence.I have completed M.Sc and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in Alternative Medicine with Diet and Nutrition as one of the major subjects and also Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Nutrition in Clinical nutrition and DietiticsA nutritionist by profession and passion, I am always available for my clients through the best communication system possible to help them overcome their health issues, a stronger, energetic, confident and healtheir you full of positivity. Expertise in obesity, PCOD, PCOS, post pregnancy weight loss, thyroid, Diabetes Management and all the other disorders arising due to nutrition issues. You hire me as your nutritionist and I'll ensure that you reach your goals. I am also an expertise in online consultation available through skype or any other mode of communication, so that I can consult people at any places. 
Ambika Niranjan
Dr. Ambika Niranjan
Nutritionist / Dietitian in Sec 119, Noida Register Now!
By using this website, you agree that we and our partners may set cookies for purposes such as customising content. I Agree