Nutrition in pregnancy and lactation

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DIET IN PREGNANCY AND LACTATION
From conception to exclusive breast feeding (first 6 months) the baby completely depends on
mother’s nutritional status. If the mother is underweight or not gaining optimal weight during
pregnancy the nutrients that are transferred to the baby will be of poor quality and quantity. On
the other hand, if the mother is overweight, it will hamper the blood circulation to the uterus and
restricts the quantity of nutrients transferred to the placenta and to the baby. There is a
considerable increase in the nutritional needs of the mother. On an average the pregnant women
gains about 10 kg in pregnancy. Either low or excessive weight gain are harmful to the pregnant
women and as well as the developing foetus (baby). A pregnant women need to consume about
350 extra calories per day, which translates to one additional meal.
The growth and development of the baby is determined 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 mothers 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.
Reach ideal body weight
Before attempting to get pregnant the mother has to gain ideal body weight for a given height (20
to 23 BMI) if she is underweight or may choose to shed some weight if she is overweight. It's a
good idea to be as close as possible to the recommended weight for a given height (BMI) when
trying for a baby as being overweight or underweight can affect babies’ growth and
development. However consult a doctor before starting on any diet or exercise plan. A pregnant
woman needs only 350 calories a day more than she did pre-pregnancy. An average size fruit
provides 50 to 75 calories. So, getting these extra 350 calories doesn't take a lot of food. If the
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