Pregnancy is a demanding physiological state. Good nutrition plays an important role during pregnancy. The health of the mother and the unborn baby depends on the type of food the mother takes during pregnancy.
Nutrition and pregnancy
According to World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet during pregnancy contains adequate energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals, obtained through the consumption of a variety of foods, including green and orange vegetables, meat, fish, beans, nuts, pasteurized dairy products, and fruit.
Nutritional requirements have to be met adequately during pregnancy, as the requirements go up. The unborn baby is dependent on the mother for all its nutritional needs. Make sure that the diet includes milk products, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The energy, protein, calcium, iron and other micronutrient requirement is increased during pregnancy.
Here are some pointers to pregnant women who are overweight or obese
- It would be best if the woman loses excess weight before conception and is an ideal weight range for her height. But now since that is not the case it is not wise to try losing weight during pregnancy.
- For pregnant women whose body mass index (BMI) of 26.1 to 29.0 the mother is recommended to gain 7-11.5 kgs weight during the period of pregnancy. This category of women is considered overweight. The diet for women of this category women when they are pregnant should be the same as normal dietary intake recommended for pregnant women.
- For women whose BMI is more than 29, they need to gain at least 7 kgs during pregnancy. These women come under the category of obese.
- Women who are overweight and obese when they become pregnant, they should be counselled about foods which provide more nutrients and at the same time are not calorie dense. This will help them avoid gaining unnecessary weight.
- Obese women are at risk of getting affected by glucose intolerance. These women should be tested for gestational diabetes at their first prenatal visit. If they test negative the test should be repeated again at 28 weeks. This is extremely important to avoid any complications for both the mother and the unborn child.
- If the woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes appropriate diet should be prescribed by the dietitian. Simple carbohydrates are avoided and complex carbohydrates are included in the diet.
- If the pregnant lady is hypertensive her blood pressure should be monitored regularly. Medication should be taken as advised by the doctor. Sodium in the diet should be kept to the minimum as suggested by the dietitian.
- Weight loss is not something to be taken up during pregnancy. Because the unborn baby is also dependent for nutrition on the mother it is not the time to go on diet. It is better to go on a well-planned diet after the baby is born and reduce weight. But at the same time since the mother will be feeding the baby nutrition should be adequate. It is always better to take professional help before going on a weight-reducing diet.
Pregnant women should take a wide variety of food to meet all the nutrient requirements for herself and the growing unborn baby. There are many complications which may result because of obesity which include macrosomia in the infant, increased incidence in the mothers of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and preeclampsia.