Good nutrition during pregnancy improves your chances of having a healthy baby. It may even reduce the risk of certain chronic conditions in your child. There is no magical formula for pregnancy nutrition. In fact, during pregnancy the basic principles of healthy eating remain the same – plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein. However few nutrients do deserve a special attention. Folic Acid Getting adequate folic acid is one way of helping your child become the healthiest person possible. It prevents serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Lack of this nutrient may increase the risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight and poor fetal growth. Ensure to take a daily dose of 400 micrograms of folic acid before conception and during pregnancy. Fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, citrus fruits, dried peas, beans and lentils, seeds like sunflower and flax, nuts like peanut and almonds are very good sources of folic acid. Iron You require about 50% more iron when you are pregnant as your blood volume expands to accommodate the changes in your body. If you don’t get enough iron, you may feel fatigued and chances of preterm delivery may be higher. To boost the amount of iron in your diet, eat iron fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruits (prunes, raisins), dark leafy vegetables (spinach, collards), nuts, lean red meat, lentils and soybeans. To enhance the absorption of iron from such foods, eat them along with vitamin C rich foods. Calcium The baby needs calcium for developing the bones and teeth. If there is not enough calcium in your diet, the calcium your baby requires will be taken from your bones causing a decrease in the bone mass and increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Some of the richest sources are dairy products, finger millets, fortified orange juice, cereals and dark leafy vegetables. Protein It is the structural material of every cell in your baby’s body. Insufficient protein restricts fetal growth. Protein needs in pregnancy climb 25 grams a day above what was needed before you were pregnant. As your body changes, it repairs the cells. Include foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dried beans and peas, soya and dairy products to fulfill the protein requirements of your body. Rethink your drink during pregnancy Pregnant women require about 10 cups of fluid every day. Although plain water is preferable, fluids like milk, fresh fruit juices can be consumed. Juice seems to be a healthy alternative to soft drinks. However it is laden with calories that can cause unwanted weight gain. So consume it in moderation. Avoid drinking alcohol as it promotes physical and mental birth defects. There is no known safe level for alcohol when you are expecting, so the best thing is to avoid it. What about caffeine?? Caffeine can affect your baby/s heart rate and breathing. Limit it to 1-2 cups a day to be on the safer side. During pregnancy you don’t need to go on a special diet, but it is important to eat variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby needs, so eat well and safely. All information provided within this blog is intended for general information and is provided on the understanding that no surgical and medical advice or recommendation is being rendered. Please do not disregard the professional advice of your physician.