Pregnancy
March 16, 2021
• Updated on
26 Jul

10 Do's and Don’ts for Nutrition during Pregnancy

Pregnancy nutrition is a whole different ball game - you are eating for not one, but two people; and what you eat has implications on the health and well-being of both parties.

This is why you need to follow guidelines to ensure you get the best possible nutrition during pregnancy. 

Are there restrictions during pregnancy? What is the best diet for pregnancy? We aim to answer some of these questions below. 

What Are The Nutritional Requirements Of A Pregnant Woman?

A pregnant woman’s nutritional requirements do vary from those of a non-pregnant woman, however, the underlying principles remain the same: plenty of whole foods, lots of liquids, a good balance of starch and protein, and of course, a limited intake of processed foods.

At quick glance, this is what  nutrition during pregnancy should look like: 


1) Fruits and vegetables: To be consumed in plentiful quantities, in both cooked and raw form like salads, but raw in moderation.

2) Starch: To be made a part of the plate along with other foods, best consumed in whole grain form, and with skin (like baked potato with skin).

3) Proteins: To be consumed in moderate amounts, in the form of beans, pulses, fish, eggs, lean meat, tofu, paneer etc, depending on whether you are a vegetarian or non-vegetarian. 

4) Dairy: Can be consumed in moderate amounts - mainly milk, yogurt and cheese. For those who do not consume dairy, calcium-enriched dairy alternatives are a good option. 

5) Processed foods: These should be kept to a MINIMUM - includes all packaged goodies, high-fat foods and foods containing refined sugar.

Nutrition During Pregnancy


There are also certain foods that you must avoid during pregnancy - these fall under the category of “what not to eat during pregnancy.” 

1) Unpasteurised milk and foods made with unpasteurised milk - this includes most soft cheeses, like feta, cream cheese etc

2) Processed meats like cocktail sausages, hot dogs, salami, pepperoni

3) Raw and undercooked seafood, eggs and meat.

4) Refrigerated and ready-to-cook kebabs and marinated tikkas

5) Refrigerated smoked seafood, like smoked salmon.


Dos And Don’ts During Pregnancy

Nutrition during pregnancy doesn’t mean boring and bland food. There are some restrictions during pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean that all food is off-limits. Here are some guidelines you should follow to ensure that you are eating well and getting optimum nutrition during pregnancy. 


#1: Do Eat The Rainbow

It’s important to eat a balanced diet while pregnant, and one of the best ways to do this is to look at your plate and ask yourself: am I eating the rainbow? Our Indian diets tend to lean towards brown and white foods: white rice, dal and roti.

Are you getting enough greens? Are you incorporating foods rich in beta-carotene, like carrots? Are you getting iron from vegetables like beetroot?



#2: Do Incorporate The 5 Essential Nutrients: Folate, Iron, Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin D

There are certain nutrients you have to increase in your diet as part of nutrition during pregnancy. This includes folate, iron, calcium, zinc and Vitamin D. Folic acid should be consumed at the rate of 400 micrograms per day.

Recommended iron intake is 27 milligrams per day. Guidelines stipulate around 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Zinc requirements for pregnant women are pegged at 15 milligrams per day, while guidelines suggest about 600 international units (IU) per day of Vitamin D.


#3: Do Eat Plenty Of Fibre-Rich Foods

Fibre is essential for good health and proper digestion. It is particularly helpful during pregnancy when women may experience bloating and constipation.

Fibre-rich foods also help  you feel fuller for a longer period of time, as opposed to refined carbohydrates which are usually stripped of fibre. Pregnant women, as part of their nutrition during pregnancy, should aim for 25-35 milligrams per day. 

# 4: Do Drink Plenty Of Fluids

"8 glasses of water a day is a must for all of us on a regular basis."

And fluids shouldn’t be ignored while you are pregnant. General fluid intake needs to be increased during pregnancy in order to support foetal circulation, development of amniotic fluid, and a higher blood volume. It's recommended that pregnant women drink around 8-10 glasses of water a day. 

Drinking more water also decreases the possibility of constipation and hemorrhoids, reduces swelling, increases energy levels, decreases chances of urinary tract infections, and even reduces the chances of preterm labour.

You can get your required intake of liquids from water, juices, smoothies, milk and milkshakes, smoothies, soups etc. It is best to avoid caffeine, so coffee may not be the wisest option - but if you are someone who simply cannot do without it, consult your doctor. Sugary aerated drinks are best avoided, along with artificial sweeteners. 


#5: Do Get Your Omega 3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are an important nutrient for the development of your baby and is a vital component of nutrition during pregnancy. A diet that is rich in Omega-3s boosts your baby’s brain development and neurological functions before birth, and will contribute to better vision, memory and linguistic skills in the early childhood years. It also serves as a mood-booster and may reduce the risk of postpartum depression in mothers. 



Flaxseeds, walnuts and fortified eggs are a good source of Omega-3s, along with certain kinds of fatty fish, like mackerel, sardines and anchovies. It is important to source fish that have low mercury levels. Fish oil supplements also work. 


#6: Don’t Go Overboard With “Eating For Two”

Yes, you have a growing baby inside of you - but that doesn’t mean you literally have to eat for two people. Your baby needs nutrient-dense foods, not an overdose of food.

Weight gain should be based on your height and pre-pregnancy weight, packing on too many kilos is not advisable. Guidelines stipulate that if you are carrying a single baby, you need approximately 340 extra calories per day in the second trimester and 450 extra calories in the third trimester.


#7: Don’t Overlook Safe Food Handling

You need to be extra careful while handling your food and nutrition during pregnancy, and follow the steps of wash-clean-cook and chill. Wash all produce thoroughly after purchase, clean produce and utensils well before cooking, cook all ingredients well to kill bacteria, and refrigerate all perishable items once cooked. 


#8: Don’t Leave Long Gaps Between Meals

Nutrition during pregnancy also involves eating regularly or “grazing,” as this provides your baby with enough nutrients through the day. This keeps your blood sugar levels steady and prevents you from “crashing” or becoming lightheaded.

Try to partake in several small meals throughout the day to keep your body going. And don’t ever skip meals, or wait for several hours before your next meal.

best diet for pregnancy



#9: Don’t Indulge In Junk Food To Curb Cravings

Pregnancy is a time when your body is changing, and during this period, you may experience strange cravings you hadn’t encountered before. Sometimes, this is an indication that a woman is deficient in a particular nutrient.

In this sense cravings can be useful - but don’t use it as an excuse to eat junk and consume empty calories. If you do crave a particular kind of food, check in with your doctor.


#10: Don’t Drink Alcohol

This is pretty standard knowledge for most, but we’ll say it again - avoid alcohol during those nine months. Alcohol comes with risks - it can have harmful effects on the developing foetus, leading to long-term medical problems and birth defects. 


Pregnancy Nutrition How-To's With Lovneet Batra

If you are looking for assistance on what to eat during your pregnancy, then you can reach out to us at Nutrition By Lovneet. We offer specialised programs for pregnancy nutrition.

We know first-hand the importance of nutrition in pregnancy, and through our program, we take over all your nutrition needs during this journey.

After you book a consultation with us, we will assess your physical health based on your blood reports and medical prescriptions. Based on your underlying medical conditions ( if any) we first design a program to heal and manage those, all while putting you on a meal plan that will nourish your body, provide optimal nutrition and strengthen new life inside you.



We design the chart according to your specific health, needs, and preferences so that you don’t feel like you’re being punished and put on a restrictive diet! And we provided assistance all along.

1) Custom-designed plans in accordance with your medical routine, filled with foods you enjoy, so you don’t feel any food restrictions during pregnancy.

2) Diet plans for lactation and postnatal recovery.

3) Healthy, gradual postnatal weight loss plan under a closely monitored health program.

4) Access to personal consultations with Ms. Lovneet Batra or from one of our qualified nutritionists trained under her. Our meals are designed to hasten the healing process after birth, all the while strengthening and nourishing both mother and child.

Learn more about our plans here. 

FAQs

What are the nutritional needs of a pregnant mother?

A pregnant woman’s nutritional requirements do vary from those of a non-pregnant woman, however, the underlying principles remain the same: plenty of whole foods, lots of liquids, a good balance of starch and protein, and of course, a limited intake of processed foods.

Eat a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, skin-on starches like baked potato with skin, moderate amounts of protein in the form of lean meat, fish, beans, pulses and legumes, moderate amounts of dairy products, and minimal amounts of processed foods.

What foods are off-limits during pregnancy?

Some foods are best avoided and are not part of the nutrition during pregnancy plan. These include unpasteurised milk milk products, factory-made processed meats like sausages, salami, pepperoni; undercooked/raw fish, eggs and meat; ready to cook meats like kebabs and spicy tikkas; and refrigerated smoked seafood like smoked salmon. Alcohol is not allowed. 

How much water does a pregnant woman need to drink?

General fluid intake needs to be increased during pregnancy in order to support foetal circulation, development of amniotic fluid, and a higher blood volume. It's recommended that pregnant women drink around 8-10 glasses of water a day… ideally, pregnant women should drink at least one and a half litres of water every day.

Drinking lots of water will help you avoid urinary infection. Hydration is especially important during the last trimester, as dehydration can cause contractions that can trigger preterm/premature labor.

How much weight gain is advised during pregnancy?

Nutrition during pregnancy does stipulate healthy weight gain - but in accordance with your height and pre-pregnancy weight. Guidelines stipulate that if you are carrying a single baby, you need approximately 340 extra calories per day in the second trimester and 450 extra calories in the third trimester.

What are the nutrients to increase during pregnancy?

There are certain nutrients you have to increase in your diet as part of nutrition during pregnancy. This includes folic acid, iron, calcium, zinc and Vitamin D. Folic acid: 400 micrograms per day. Iron intake: 27 milligrams per day.

Calcium: around 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Zinc: about 15 milligrams per day. Vitamin D: about 600 international units (IU) per day of Vitamin D.


Lovneet Batra
Founder
Lovneet Batra is a clinical nutritionist with over a decade of experience treating patients and educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet. One of Delhi’s most sought-after nutritionists...
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