Saturday, 23 April 2016


Good evening everyone...

Glad to be back again.

After such a long time I m writing an article. It fees so good.

Today I m going to talk about nutritional requirement for pregnant women and Lactating mother. As I am facing the same phase, very exciting, different and always alarming. Taking care of yourself more than anybody else so that the fetus inside me should be safe and happy.

From conception to exclusive breast feeding (first 6 months) the baby completely depends on mother’s nutritional status.  If the mother is overweight, it will decrease the blood circulation to the uterus and restrict the quantity and quality of nutrients transferred to the placenta which further provide nutrients to the fetus. On the other hand, if the mother is underweight or not gaining optimal weight during pregnancy the nutrients that are transferred to the fetus will be of inadequate in context with quality as well as quantity. There is a considerable increase in the nutritional needs of the mother. On an average the pregnant women gains about 10 - 12 kg during pregnancy. A pregnant women need to consume about 350 extra calories per day, which translates to one additional meal. The growth and development of the fetus is determine

d by the food taken by the mother. All the nutrients provided to the baby are derived from her food. In the first seven days, baby nourishes with the nutrients from the just fertilized ovum, then the amniotic fluid and later on throughout the pregnancy the baby receives nutrients via the placenta. Even after birth the baby receives all the nutrients for the first 6 months exclusively from mother’s milk. This is followed by gradual introduction of complementary foods after 6 months along with the mother’s milk. Eating healthily during pregnancy will help the baby to develop and grow normally, and will keep the mother fit as well. A healthy diet during pregnancy should contain the right balance and combination of nutrients. If the mother is consuming a balanced diet comprising of various food groups, she gets the benefit of various nutrients that are necessary and increased during the pregnancy

Adequate intake of a nutritious diet is reflected in optimal weight gain during pregnancy (10 to 12 kg) by the expectant woman. Their diet should be well balanced and include adequate amount of foods from all food groups, i.e. body building foods (Protein), protective foods (Vitamins and Minerals) and energy giving food (Carbohydrates). If mother takes a well balanced diet, she will have a normal course of pregnancy.
Pregnant women should choose foods rich in fiber (fibre 25 g/1000 kcal) like whole grain cereals, pulses and vegetables, to avoid constipation.
Excess intake of beverages containing caffeine like coffee and tea adversely affect foetal growth and, hence, should be avoided. In addition to satisfying these dietary requisites, a pregnant woman should undergo periodic health check-up for weight gain, blood pressure, anaemia and receive tetanus toxoid immunization.
Daily oral iron and folic acid supplementation is recommended as part of the antenatal care to reduce the risk of low birth weight, maternal anaemia and iron deficiency. Iron is needed for haemoglobin synthesis, mental function and body defence. Deficiency of iron leads to anaemia. Plant foods like legumes and dried fruits contain iron. Folic acid, taken throughout the pregnancy, reduces the risk of congenital malformations and increases the birth weight. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and liver are good sources of folic acid. 500 mg folic acid supplementation is advised preconceptionally and throughout Pregnancy for women with history of congenital anomalies (neural tube defects, Cleft palate). 
Calcium is essential, both during pregnancy and lactation, for proper formation of bonesØ and teeth of the offspring and for secretion of breast-milk rich in calcium and also to prevent osteoporosis in the mother.  Iodine intake ensures proper mental health of the growing foetus and infant.
The pregnant women require enough physical exercise with adequate rest for 2-3 hrs during the day. Pregnant and lactating women should not indiscriminately take any drugs without medical advice as some of them could be harmful to the foetus/baby. Smoking and tobacco chewing and consumption of alcohol must be avoided. Wrong food beliefs and taboos should be discouraged.

A balanced diet suitable for a nursing mother shall contain the same kind of food as those recommended during pregnancy, but slightly increased quantities. Twin factors of physical activity and active production of breast milk make additional demands for energy yielding foods, proteins and other nutrients. A mother's capacity to produce milk of sufficient quantity and quality to support infant growth is resilient and remarkably resistant to nutritional deprivation, however, milk production normally affects maternal body composition and nutritional status, and lactating women have increased nutrient demands.
The women who are breastfeeding her infant requires not only large quantities of body building (Proteins) foods and protective foods (Vitamins and Minerals) but also additional energy yielding foods to facilitates the synthesis and secretion of breast milk.
Intake of fluids should be increased as fluids are essential for adequate milk production. Therefore, consumption of fluids in any form like juices, butter milk, milk and milk based beverages and even plain milk should be encouraged. A mother should preferably take some fluids before breastfeeding her infant
The choice of food is wide during lactation. No food is restricted except highly spiced and strongly flavoured food, as they impart flavour to the milk which may be repulsive to the baby.
They are also given special preparation having ajwain, methi seeds, saunth, til seeds etc, which supply protein, iron, calcium and B-vitamins. These foods are called as galactogogues, i.e foods that help produce more milk.
Small and frequent meals (5-6meals in a day) are recommended. Greenleafy vegetables and fruits of all varieties should be consumed.
Since some of the medicines can be absorbed into the mother’s blood stream and may be secreted in the milk, the use of medicines during lactation should be strictly under medical supervision.

Good nutrition during lactation will not only ensure optimum milk supply for the baby and a healthy and happy infant but also help the mother maintain a good nutritional status.

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