I am not an expert who can write an article about this topic nor I have undergone this stage to share my experience. So this post is the result of my information hunt on the web. I have tried to put together information from various portals that I felt it was important. This is just a guideline. What you should and what you shouldn’t do depends on every individual. So always ask your Doctor’s opinion FIRST before you decide to follow something.
- Don’t ‘crash diet’, as this can have a negative impact on the baby.
- Don’t ‘eat for two’, as this will lead to unnecessary weight gain. A healthy pregnancy only requires about an extra 300 calories (might differ for certain individuals) a day during the second and third trimester, which is equivalent to a glass of milk or a sandwich.
- Concentrate on diet quality rather than quantity.
- Accommodate cravings, but don’t let them replace more nutritious foods.
- Nutrients for which there are increased requirements during pregnancy include folate, iron and iodine. Iron supplements are often advised, but don’t take them unless your doctor recommends them. Folate is important before and in the early weeks of pregnancy to avoid neural tube defects (like spina bifida) in the baby. All women of childbearing age should eat high folate foods or take a folate supplement (remember to talk to your doctor first).
- The recommended intake of calcium does not specifically increase during pregnancy. It is, however, very important that pregnant women do meet calcium requirements during pregnancy.
- No one knows the safe limit of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, so the best approach is not to drink at all.
- Being physically active has many benefits. If you are active and fit and are experiencing a normal pregnancy, you can remain physically active during your pregnancy. Otherwise, consult your doctor for advice.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Do not smoke – both direct and passive smoking are associated with growth retardation, increased risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, placental complications and low birth weight.
Breastfeeding mothers need a significant amount of extra energy to cope with the demands of breastfeeding. This extra energy should come in the form of nutrient-dense foods to assist in meeting the extra nutrient requirements that also occur when breastfeeding.Recommendations include:
- Eat enough food – breastfeeding burns through extra kilojoules.
- Eat foods that are nutrient dense – especially those foods that are rich in folate, iodine, zinc and calcium.
- Eat and drink regularly – breastfeeding may increase the risk of dehydration and cause constipation.