Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

We present im­por­tant facts for a healthy preg­nancy

Preg­nancy nu­tri­tion is an es­sen­tial part of en­sur­ing your baby grows strong and healthy. Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, preg­nancy crav­ings don’t nec­es­sar­ily mean you should give in to an in­dulge. In fact, a crav­ing for cer­tain foods im­ply you’re lack­ing in a cer­tain min­eral or nu­tri­ent. Tanya Khubchan­dani Vatsa puts your wor­ries to rest by bust­ing these pop­u­lar myths. Read on to know more...

Ev­ery baby is unique and so is ev­ery preg­nancy and ex­pe­ri­ence. Some women eat fast food and put on no baby weight, while oth­ers eat healthy, con­trolled quan­ti­ties of food, and can still gain 20 kilo­grams, or more! How­ever, while ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence is unique, there are an end­less num­ber of preg­nancy facts that gov­ern how much nu­tri­tion you and your baby are able to get, and even more myths sur­round­ing these re­al­i­ties. Be­low are some of the most com­mon preg­nancy nu­tri­tion myths, with a re­al­ity check.

1 Once preg­nant, I can eat for two. True or False? False.

As per the in­sti­tute of medicine, the calorie re­quire­ment dur­ing preg­nancy is an ex­tra 340 calo­ries per day dur­ing the sec­ond trimester, and 450 ex­tra calo­ries per day in the third trimester. There are no ex­tra calo­ries re­quired in the first trimester. This is ba­si­cally an ex­tra ba­nana, glass of milk or healthy sand­wich at most. These re­quire­ments are also based on your reg­u­lar caloric in­take, not on a 2,000-calorie diet. If you are un­der­weight, your doc­tor may ad­vise a lit­tle more food so that you don’t de­plete your own nu­tri­ents. With mul­ti­ples, the calorie per day re­quire­ment in­creases to 300 calo­ries more per child, per day.

2 Hav­ing big, heavy meals will give my baby more nu­tri­ents. True or False? False.

Hav­ing big heavy meals will give you heart­burn and in­crease your nau­sea (if any), but will not do much for your baby. Smaller, reg­u­lar meals will keep you feel­ing fuller, but will also give your baby a con­sis­tent sup­ply of en­ergy to grow and to move around. You will even­tu­ally find that when you eat some­thing sug­ary, your baby is even more ac­tive than oth­er­wise, be­cause of the spikes in your blood glu­cose. So, keep the right kind of food go­ing to your lit­tle one, but do not overdo it as it can make you feel sick, too.

3 Morn­ing sick­ness af­fects how much nu­tri­tion my child is get­ting. True or False? False.

The most con­fus­ing thing about morn­ing sick­ness is why it’s named what it is! Be­cause it can af­fect a preg­nant mother at any point of time, and can some­times last through the day. It is of­ten trig­gered by cer­tain foods and smells, and aver­sions are more than com­mon. The best way to com­bat it is to avoid long gaps be­tween meals – eat smaller meals that you are able to keep down, con­sist­ing of no more than salted crack­ers or ice cream. The great part about morn­ing sick­ness is that, in most cases, it eases by 15 to 16 weeks of preg­nancy and is not around when you re­ally need to eat and feed your baby those ex­tra calo­ries that you both need. For­tu­nately for our ba­bies, our bod­ies are great at ex­tract­ing nu­tri­ents from food, even more so dur­ing preg­nancy, and more of these are chan­neled to our baby and pla­centa, than to us. For ex­am­ple, it is not un­com­mon for a mother’s cal­cium level to get de­pleted (this can re­sult in frac­tures and tooth de­cay late in preg­nancy, and par­tic­u­larly post­par­tum or when breast­feed­ing), while your baby’s bones grow strong and healthy. There­fore, your pre­na­tal vi­ta­mins, cal­cium, D3, folic acid and other es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents are im­por­tant to re­place what your child is tak­ing from you, not just to pass it along to them.


Se­vere vom­it­ing, or Hyper­eme­sis gravi­darum, only af­fects those who are hav­ing girls. True or False? False (with some truth to it)

Hyper­eme­sis Gravi­darum is a con­di­tion where a preg­nant woman suf­fers from se­vere, un­con­trol­lable vom­it­ing, nau­sea, and even loses weight or needs to be hos­pi­talised due to the loss of elec­trolytes and en­ergy. This is not ex­tremely com­mon and, in many cases, also sub­sides by the end of the first trimester. In a few cases, how­ever, it sticks around till the end of preg­nancy, and un­for­tu­nately re­quires close mon­i­tor­ing by the doc­tor to en­sure the ex­pec­tant mum is get­ting enough nu­tri­tion for the baby to grow to a safe and nor­mal weight, with­out com­pro­mis­ing the health of the mother fur­ther, too. It is true that women who are ex­pect­ing girls, are more likely to have nau­sea that does not sub­side at the end of the first trimester, hyper­eme­sis gravi­darum, and more hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions as well. How­ever, this is not a de­fin­i­tive gen­der test, as this can hap­pen if you are ex­pect­ing a boy as well.


There is an end­less list of foods I can­not eat when preg­nant, in­clud­ing sea food, red meat and cheese. True or False? False.

There is a list of things you can­not eat when preg­nant, yes. It in­cludes raw or un­der-cooked food, un­pas­teurised cheeses, and cer­tain types of fish that are high in mer­cury. How­ever, low-mer­cury fish is ac­tu­ally quite healthy since omega-3 and DHA is es­sen­tial to foetal brain de­vel­op­ment (and is of­ten given as a sup­ple­ment). Cheeses can be great for pro­tein and cal­cium, spe­cially for veg­e­tar­i­ans. While you have to avoid goat cheese, blue cheese, brie and Camem­bert, pas­teurised cheeses like Swiss, Amer­i­can, and Ched­dar, are ab­so­lutely safe. Red meat pro­vides iron which is a much-needed nu­tri­ent, and is some­thing that many moms tend to be­come de­fi­cient in by the third trimester. It’s great for you and your lit­tle one, as long as it is cooked well.

6 There are cer­tain foods will make my baby fairer and smarter. True or False? False (with a caveat).

There are am­ple pages on­line on how drink­ing saf­fron milk or con­sum­ing ghee, is sup­posed to make your baby fairer. What af­fects your baby’s skin colour in utero is their ge­netic makeup, that’s it. In­tel­li­gence again, can­not be de­ter­mined by what you can eat when preg­nant. It is ge­netic. Re­search to­day shows that it is highly cor­re­lated with the mother’s in­tel­li­gence and genes. How­ever, there are cer­tain foods that can boost your baby’s brain de­vel­op­ment at the foetal stage, so what we eat does af­fect their men­tal acu­ity, just as drink­ing al­co­hol dur­ing preg­nancy can cause foetal brain dam­age. Some of the foods that boost brain de­vel­op­ment in­clude egg yolks, av­o­cado, fish, nuts, blue­ber­ries, io­dine and folic acid sup­ple­ments.


Women who have acid re­flux dur­ing preg­nancy will give birth to hairier ba­bies. True or False? True.

Acid re­flux is more than an an­noy­ing preg­nancy symp­tom; it can af­fect how much you are able to eat and re­tain. For­tu­nately, it is some­thing that can be man­aged well with safe over-the-counter med­i­ca­tion, and by avoid­ing cer­tain foods like tomato-based sauces, fried foods and spice. Adding ba­nanas to your diet, es­pe­cially first thing in the morn­ing, or eat­ing

chia seeds af­ter meals, also helps cut the acid for­ma­tion. It is true, though, that women with more preg­nancy acid re­flux, are more likely to give birth to hairier ba­bies. Re­search done at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity has shown this to be true, since the same hor­mone that af­fects hair growth also re­laxes the oe­sophageal sphinc­ter, push­ing food and acid in the wrong di­rec­tion.

8 Re­duce wa­ter to avoid go­ing to the bath­room as fre­quently. True or False? False.

Yes, drink­ing less wa­ter be­fore bed­time will help re­duce your night time trips to the bath­room. How­ever, re­duc­ing your in­take is haz­ardous. Wa­ter is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial at this stage, not only for your baby but for you as well. It re­duces the risk of uri­nary tract in­fec­tions and of early labour. It will also help re­duce wa­ter re­ten­tion in your feet and hands, and help you feel cooler by keep­ing away hot flashes. More­over, the more fre­quent trips to the bath­room, is not only a re­sult of the wa­ter con­sumed, but is also an out­come of the in­creased blood flow in the body, mak­ing the body pro­duce more urine. Even­tu­ally the pres­sure from the baby’s head and body on the blad­der, con­trib­utes to this too.


Give in to all my preg­nancy crav­ings, they sig­nal what your body needs. True or False? False.

While you can give into many of your crav­ings that are safe and harm­less, keep in mind the list of foods to avoid. More­over, preg­nancy crav­ings for cer­tain foods sig­nal the lack of cer­tain nu­tri­ents in your preg­nancy diet. More­over, the ma­jor hor­monal changes in our bod­ies dur­ing preg­nancy, can im­pact our sense of taste and smell and af­fect what we want to eat. How­ever, there is no con­clu­sive re­search that shows a link be­tween our body’s needs and what we crave. Un­der cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions, a preg­nant woman’s crav­ings can in­crease. Those with ges­ta­tional di­a­betes, crave sweets and sugar to an ex­ces­sive amount. There is also a con­di­tion called pica, which makes you crave strange things like chalk and sand. We rec­om­mend you speak to your doc­tor in these cases and do not give in.

10 Pre­na­tal iron can make me sick. True or False? True.

Yes, pre­na­tal iron and even pre­na­tal vi­ta­mins in a cer­tain stage of preg­nancy, when you have morn­ing sick­ness, can make the nau­sea and even the vom­it­ing worse. In the event that the vom­it­ing does not fade beyond your first trimester, there are sev­eral dif­fer­ent for­mu­la­tions that can be tried. How­ever, if no al­ter­na­tive works, a quick in­tra­venous drip can be given at reg­u­lar, weekly or monthly in­ter­vals, to re­place the body’s iron, and avoid preg­nancy ane­mia. So while preg­nancy doesn’t need you to eat much more, it does re­quire you to eat smarter, more nu­tri­tious meals, re­gard­less of which trimester you are in. So go ahead, put your feet up and dig in! You will miss your un­hur­ried meal­times soon enough!

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