Pregnancy & Lactation

Pregnancy is a critical stage of a woman’s life and requires utmost care and proper nutrition. Early signs of pregnancy include frequent urination, tender breasts, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness and absence of menstrual periods Adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation impacts the health of both mother and baby.

Nutrients required for pregnancy and lactation

Energy: There is an increased need of energy during pregnancy due to the growth of placenta, maternal and fetus and the rise in metabolic rate. Additional 150 kcal in the first trimester and additional 350 kcal for 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

Protein: The additional requirement of protein during pregnancy is essential for the rapid growth of fetus, enlargement of uterus, mammary glands and formation of amniotic fluid. The requirement of protein during pregnancy(3rd trimester) is 68g/d. The deficiency can lead to inadequate growth of fetus. Both energy and protein deficiency during lactation can lead to reduction in milk volume. Milk and milk products, pulses, meat and eggs are good sources of protein.

Calcium: Requirement of calcium during pregnany is 1000 mg/d and that of lactation is 1200mg/d. Increased intake of calcium is essential for the calcification of foetal bones and to maintain calcium reserves of mother. Intake of calcium during lactation is essential for the production of milk and maintain the balance of calcium in mother’s body to prevent the risk of osteoporosis in later life. Green leafy vegetables, milk and milk products, nuts etc., are good sources of calcium.

Iron: To meet the demands of increased loss of iron and formation of hemoglobin iron requirements increase up to 27 mg/d. During lactation iron requirement is 23mg/d, the increased requirement is to make up for the loss of iron in breast milk. The sources of iron include liver, eggs, green leafy vegetables and dried fruits.

Zinc: Zinc deficiency during pregnancy can increase the risk of low birth weight baby, and preterm delivery. Eggs, dairy products, nuts are good sources of zinc.

Dietary folate: During pregnancy the requirement of folate is 570mcg/d. Folic acid is essential for the normal growth and development of red blood cells. Deficiency of folic acid can lead pregnancy induced hypertension and a defect development in the babies called spina bifida.

Dietary fiber: One of the complications of pregnancy is constipation. Dietary fiber intake helps relive constipation and helps maintain normal bowel movements. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good sources of fiber.