Pregnancy is the time when your body undergoes a lot of changes, and that is why a balanced diet during this period is important. A weight gain of 11-15 kg is healthy, and good pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy exercises ensure that you gain it slowly and lose it quickly. More than 25 per cent women gain 40 or more pounds during pregnancy. And there are fewer chances of them returning to their pre-pregnancy weight. Interestingly, a woman’s body is more efficient during pregnancy, and makes better use of what she consumes.
Here are some nutrition and exercise tips for pregnant women:
What to eat during pregnancy?
People keep advising pregnant women to eat for two, but the truth is they don’t need any extra calories during the first six months of pregnancy and only about 200 cal/day for the last three months. So, eat when you are hungry.
Protein requirements are also increased marginally (15-20gms/day). A well-planned vegetarian diet including pulses, soy, daals, sprouts, low fat milk, yogurt, tofu, nuts and seeds should be able to meet this requirement.
The choice of fat is crucial as the needs for essential fatty acids and some fat-soluble vitamins increase during pregnancy. Cold pressed oils, nuts, coconut, desi ghee and seeds are some of the good ways to meet increased fat needs.
There is an increased need for some vitamins and minerals, the most important being iron, calcium, folic acid, zinc and some B-vitamins. Wherever possible, pregnant women should prefer organic produce, particularly fats and oils.
Pregnant women should avoid alcohol, tobacco, artificial sweeteners and moderate caffeine intake. Smoking, alcohol and drug use during pregnancy can have devastating effects on the foetus.
Those suffering from high blood pressure, gestational diabetes or other complications must remain in close contact with their physicians and nutritionists.
Exercises during pregnancy
Cardiovascular exercise such as walking and jogging are activities that get your heart rate up.
Strength training prepares you for physical demands of being a mother. It helps the body regain its pre-pregnancy weight.
If you weren’t part of a regular exercise program prior to pregnancy, the first trimester is not the time to start. If you’re interested in taking up exercise, try walking or any such light exercise initially. Wait till the second trimester to add more challenging activities.
-With inputs from Dr Sonu Aggarwal, Sr. Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology, Fortis - Le Femme and clinical nutritionist Ishi Khosla .