A healthy well-balanced diet during pregnancy is essential for the well-being of the mother and her baby. It is important for you to provide enough nutrients to support the growth and development of your baby. Eating right is one of the best things you can do to help your baby grow and develop healthy.
Actually, your nutrition is important from before conception (probably several months before) as well as throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Your diet will have an effect on your child. Hence it is crucial your diet should contain a variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and proteins to provide the important nutrients and nourishment to your baby. Your doctor will give you prenatal vitamins that has folic acid, iron, and the other vitamins and minerals that all women need.
During the second trimester, your baby undergoes a significant growth spurt. You too will experience various changes, such as an increase in blood volume and metabolism. This means that you will need to consume more calories to ensure that both you and your baby receive the nutrients needed.
Pregnant women need 300-320 extra calories a day in the second trimester.
Changing hormones can affect your hunger levels. Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone increase appetite. But that does not mean you keep eating excessively
Eating for two: A common saying that a woman “is eating for two” while pregnant implies that a mother should consume twice as much during pregnancy, but that is false and inaccurate. Eating for two does not mean eating twice as much food.
If you eat unwholesome, processed food the extra calories will not provide nutrients to your baby. Instead of junk food and snacks, choose foods that are:
- High in protein foods: Protein is essential for the growth and development of your baby. Good sources of protein include eggs, fish beans, peas, nuts, soy products).
- Rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats foods– Fats and particularly long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are crucial for foetal and infant tissue development. Good sources are rajma, walnuts, flaxseeds, eggs, spinach. And food should be lower in trans fats and saturated fats with almonds, cashews, peanuts, olive and peanut oil, tofu, salmon fish.
- Calcium-rich foods: Calcium is essential for the development of your baby’s bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods such as cereals and orange juice.
- Iron-rich foods: Iron is important for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your baby. Good sources of iron include lean red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals.
- Folate-rich foods: Folate is important for the development of your baby’s neural tube, which eventually becomes the brain and spinal cord. Good sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals.
- Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Aim for a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables to get the maximum benefit.
- Low in sugar – (sugar provides only empty calories) or refined carbohydrates high in fibre food: good sources are rice, pasta, potatoes, milk, yoghurt.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can prevent:
- Too much weight gain
- Gestational diabetes
- Anaemia and infections
- An early/premature birth
- A low birth-weight baby
- The chance of needing a C-section
Normal total weight gain for you in pregnancy should be 11 to 16 kilograms. This is only in the entire pregnancy and not just second trimester, also this is for women with normal BMI only. If overweight then 7-11kg and if underweight then 13-18kg is advisable.
It’s important to note that every pregnancy is different, and the amount of additional calories needed may vary based on factors such as pre-pregnancy weight, activity level, and overall health. It’s essential to consult your gynaecologist and health care provider to develop a personalized nutrition plan that meets your and your baby’s needs.