Important Nutrients During Pregnancy

Now that you’re pregnant, you need a lot of essential nutrients for you and your growing baby. It can be confusing for you to keep a track of which ones are the most important and how to incorporate them in your daily diet.

There’s no magic formula for a nutritious pregnancy diet. In fact, during pregnancy, the basic principles of eating healthy remain the same – a balanced diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, good amount of proteins and healthy fats and make sure you even drink plenty of water.

However, there are a few nutrients that deserve special attention in your pregnancy diet. Here are a few that top the list:

Folic acid (Vitamin B9)

Folic acid is a pregnancy superhero! Right from the start, during the early development of your little one, and throughout your pregnancy folic acid is beneficial.

Folic acid is crucial in helping to prevent neural tube defects, serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. You may be recommended to take approximately 500 micrograms of folic acid per day.

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What are the common complication during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a natural process, which ideally requires a minimal or non-invasive procedure. However, there are few complications that may occur during pregnancy which require immediate medical attention to ease the process. The complications may affect either the mother’s or the baby’s health and sometimes both. Most of the complications can be avoided or treated with the right supervision and treatment.

Loss of pregnancy within the first 20 weeks is termed as a miscarriage. A miscarriage happens when there are chromosomal abnormalities in the fertilised egg which keep the embryo from developing further.

The first symptom to identify a miscarriage is excessive vaginal bleeding. However, it is common to spot blood during early pregnancy. It is best to consult the doctor at the earliest to detect a miscarriage.

 

Preeclampsia

This is a serious complication which can occur during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, causing high blood pressure. Women with preeclampsia are advised to deliver the baby at the earliest. If it is too early to deliver the baby, the mother and baby will be under medical surveillance until the due date.

This condition can also lead to some serious problems and affect other organs.

An ideal time for delivery is once the mother reaches 37 weeks of pregnancy. If the baby is delivered before 37 weeks, it is a preterm birth and the baby is considered a premature baby. A preterm birth can sometimes be fatal to the baby.

 

Gestational diabetes

This condition occurs when the pregnant woman cannot process her sugar intake. This fairly common condition is serious enough to cause complications during pregnancy. Therefore, it is important for the mother to maintain a healthy diet and exercise plan in order to deliver a healthy baby.

A poorly-maintained diet will lead to sugar imbalance in the blood. This problem can be cured by modifying the diet accordingly. In few cases, insulin will be prescribed by the Doctor to help keep sugar levels in control.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilised egg attaches itself to places other than the uterus. 1 out of 50 pregnancies is an ectopic pregnancy. It occurs in the fallopian tubes, which aren’t designed for holding a growing embryo. The growing embryo creates a rupture in the fallopian tubes and causes internal bleeding. One can identify an ectopic pregnancy through symptoms like vaginal bleeding, sharp pain in the intestines, weakness and some others.

This condition can be cured if a doctor is immediately consulted upon experiencing a sharp pain or spotting blood.

As the famous saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. It is important for a pregnant woman to be in a positive and healthy environment.

At Stork Home, we believe that every woman is capable of giving birth naturally and is treated with utmost care and warmth. We always encourage the mother to follow the required diet, therefore, avoiding any kind of complication. However, during any complication, our specialist team of doctors, midwives and support staff are on their toes to provide the required care and treatment to the mother and the baby.

Is heavy bleeding normal during menstruation?

Heavy bleeding during menstruation is a fairly common problem. It is also one of the most ignored problems, often waived off as something normal. An abnormal menstruation, with heavy bleeding, big clots, and cramps, needs immediate medical attention. Visit your doctor immediately in such a case. 

Women with heavy bleeding during menstruation experience severe cramps which make day-to-day functioning difficult. Effective medical treatment can cure the issue.

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Need to change the pad/tampon every hour
  • Big blood clots
  • Need to change over soaked pad/tampon in the middle of the night
  • Periods lasting more than 7 days
  • Women with heavy menstrual bleeding also experience fatigue, shortness of breath and anaemia.

Hormone imbalance: A thin line builds up inside the uterus. It sheds during periods. Estrogen, makes the lining thicker, whereas Progesterone makes it thinner. It is important that these hormones are balanced. If estrogen levels are high, the lining gets thicker and leads to heavy bleeding when it is shed.
Fibroids and Polyps:  Fibroids and polyps are non-harmful growths within the uterus. These cause heavy bleeding during periods. In many cases, fibroids influence the blood flow.
Cancer:  Women in their postmenopausal phase, or those who have had an abnormal Pap test in the past, are potential victims of uterine and cervical cancers. These cancers cause excessive and prolonged bleeding.
Bleeding disorders:  Mostly, these disorders are inherited. They cause blood clots and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Medical conditions:  Women with liver disease, kidney disease and thyroid issues are more likely to develop heavy bleeding.
Pregnancy complications:  A miscarriage causes heavy periods. Ectopic pregnancy also causes heavy bleeding. During this pregnancy, the fertilized eggs get attached outside the uterus. 
Intrauterine device:  This birth control device is a common cause for heavy bleeding. Many women use IUDs for birth control. This can lead to heavy menstrual bleeding.

At Stork Home, we have the finest gynecologists. They provide holistic care and treatment for a range of women’s medical conditions. We provide specific treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. Our experts take various factors into consideration. They discuss the medical history and menstrual cycle period. The treatment is continued after taking into account the woman’s tolerance levels. She is given absolute freedom to make the right, informed choice for herself.

Heavy menstrual bleeding is treated with surgery on an Outpatient basis and the patient is likely to be discharged the same day.

Trimesterwise Pregnancy Meal Planning — 1st Trimester

When a woman becomes pregnant, a little bit of extra care is needed as the body undergoes several transformations. The foetus needs different nutrients to develop into a healthy baby. And all these requirements are fulfilled by the mother through a healthy diet and vitamin/mineral supplements. Eating well becomes very important as unhealthy foods may harm your baby.  The weight gain in pregnancy is based on the pre pregnancy body mass index (BMI). If you’re starting pregnancy at a healthy weight, a weight gain of 0.5 – 2 .0 kgs is recommended in the first trimester. The focus is on having a balanced and nutrient rich diet.

The first trimester or the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is very crucial as during this stage the foetus starts growing. The brain, spinal cord, heart, arm and leg buds of the baby starts forming. So you should make sure to have healthy foods. It is even better to focus on your diet before planning your pregnancy.

You may not feel like eating due to nausea and morning sickness during the first trimester, but you should try to eat, and that too, healthy. A properly nourished mother can even lower the risk of any postpartum complications.

A healthy balanced diet during pregnancy should be rich in good quality proteins, essential fatty acids, iron, calcium, B complex vitamins and vitamin C with optimum calories. Folic acid is especially important during the first trimester.

So, plan your meal with nutrient-rich foods. You can include the following foods in your diet during the first trimester:

 Cereals: 9 servings of cereals should be consumed per day of which at least 3 to 4 servings should be whole grains. Whole grains have more vitamins and minerals than processed grains, as well as fibre. Fibre helps in maintaining proper bowel function and lowers the risk of developing constipation. You can have:

  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat, broken wheat
  • Millets (ragi, jowar, bajra, foxtail millet, quinoa)
  • Oats
  • Whole grain bread

Protein-rich Foods:  Focus on having good quality proteins and have at least 3 to 4 servings daily. Your diet can include:

  • Lean meat like chicken and fish
  • Whole Egg
  • Beans/Legumes like kidney beans, black beans, black eyed beans, peas etc
  • Lentils/Pulses/Dals
  • Nuts
  • Paneer
  • Soya and soy products

Dairy Products: As dairy products contain calcium and protein, 2 to 3 servings (approximately 500 ml) per day are necessary during the first trimester. Calcium is needed for development of bones and teeth of the baby. You can have low fat or non-fat dairy products like:

  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt/Curd
  • Milk
  • Paneer

Vegetables: You should have around 3 to 5 servings of vegetables daily. Vegetables contain essential vitamins like folate, minerals like calcium and iron, fibre and are low in fat, as well. You can include vegetables like:

  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, amaranth, gogu, fenugreek
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Gourd and squash vegetables
  • Cauliflower
  • Capsicum/ Bell peppers
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Corn
  • Peas

Fruits: 2 to 4 servings of fruits daily are necessary during the first trimester. You can choose fresh, dried or frozen fruits. Whole fruits are preferable to juices as they contain fibre. As citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, you should include at least one type of citrus fruits on your daily meal chart. In addition to vitamin C and fibre, fruits provide folate, vitamin A and potassium. You can include fruits like:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Orange
  • Sweet lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Melons
  • Berries
  • Ripe papaya
  • Pomegranate
  • Watermelon
  • Guava

Importance of Probiotics and Prebiotics in the Pregnancy Diet

Introduction

A healthy pregnancy mostly depends on your diet during pregnancy. A balanced diet rich in natural foods that include probiotics and prebiotics allows you to stay healthy and fit. These components help in digesting and distributing the nutrients of the food throughout the body. Probiotics and prebiotics obtained either from supplements or from natural food sources are considered to be safe during pregnancy. But consulting a doctor is always a nice idea before taking any kinds of supplements.

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Probiotics and Prebiotics

Commonly known as good bacteria, probiotics are live microorganisms that are present in the intestine naturally. These good bacteria help in breaking down the food that we eat and help in providing energy to the cells. Whereas,  prebiotics are food components which are not digested by our body, but they stimulate the growth of the friendly bacteria.

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Benefits of Probiotics during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, women have to go through a variety of discomforts which may occur frequently or may be severe. Stomach upset, stomach cramp, bloating and constipation are some of the common conditions that occur in pregnant women. Intake of probiotics directly from food or through supplements gives you relief from these problems. Below are a few of the benefits of probiotics:

  • Helps in making your digestive system healthier so that it works more effectively
  • Prevents diarrhoea due to infections and antibiotics
  • Makes the immune systems of mother and baby strong
  • Gives you relief from inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Maintains urinary health
  • Prevents premature birth due to infections in your birth canal
  • Helps in treating food allergies, atopic dermatitis and eczema in babies
  • Aids mental health and brain function
  • Helps in keeping cholesterol level balanced

Foods containing Probiotics

Probiotics are available in a variety of foods which include :

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  • Yogurt
  • Lassi
  • Dosa
  • Idli
  • Dhokla
  • Uttapam
  • Bhatura
  • Kulcha
  • Paneer
  • Fermented bamboo shoot

Foods containing Prebiotics

Here is a list of some foods containing prebiotics:

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  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Unrefined wheat
  • Soya beans
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Kiwis
  • Oranges

Conclusion:

Eating a healthy diet enriched with a variety of nutrients along with probiotics and prebiotics is essential for a healthy pregnancy. It will not only help you to stay fit and healthy but will also enable your baby to have a healthy development.

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Whole grains and their benefits during pregnancy

During pregnancy, it is very essential to have whole grains in your diet. A good source of nutrients, whole grains keep you and your baby fit and strong. So, if you are pregnant, then discover the lovely world of whole grains which will benefit you and your developing baby through various ways.

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Some of the benefits of whole grains:

  • Good source of folic acid: Whole grains are a good source of folic acid, a type of vitamin B. It helps in generating new cells in your body. Deficiency of folic acid causes diseases like anaemia, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, dementia and cognitive deficit in pregnant women. It also leads to premature infants, low birth weight and babies with neural tube defects (NTDs). So, if a pregnant woman consumes the required quantity of whole grains in their diet, it can, to a great extent, prevent major birth defects especially in the baby’s brain and spine. Cereal and fortified bread provides a good amount of folic acid during pregnancy.
  • Contains high fibre: Whole grains contain a good quantity of fibre of two types — soluble and insoluble. Both are beneficial for women during pregnancy. And as fibre digests slowly, it makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time. However, all types of whole grains are not high-fibre. Pregnant women can take bran, brown bread, oats and barley in their diet.
  • Delivers essential minerals: Whole grains are a good source of minerals required for a healthy pregnancy. Iron, magnesium, zinc etc. can be received from whole grains which help in preventing anaemia, build bones and keep your immune system alert.
  • Contains resistant starch: Complex carbs like brown rice and oatmeal are whole grain sources of resistant starch. These types of whole grains are ideal for women during pregnancy as they help fight constipation and combat nausea.

Some good options for grain sources are:

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Whole-Grain-Food

  • Cooked oatmeal, wheat and barley
  • Brown rice
  • Bran
  • Whole wheat bagel
  • Raisin or plain bagel
  • Whole grain muffin
  • Cooked whole wheat pasta and noodles
  • Whole grain pancake or waffle
  • Brown bread

So, eating healthy foods like whole grains, milk, vegetables, fruits etc. during your pregnancy is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself and the baby in your womb healthy.

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Managing food allergies and intolerances in babies

Food allergies and intolerances in babies have become quite common and almost 1 in 12 babies suffer from them. So, it is very essential for mothers to take proper care of their babies regarding food. Your baby can have food allergies if you have a family history of food allergy, hay fever, asthma or eczema.

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What is food allergy?

Food allergies in babies occur when their immune system has an adverse reaction to harmless proteins in food and produces antibodies. The immune system responds to the food as toxic. It occurs immediately or after some time of having food.

Allergy-To-Milk-Protein

Symptoms of food allergy:

  • Redness on skin and dermatitis
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy eyes and mouth
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps
  • Swollen face and eyelids
  • Swollen tongue and lips
  • Frequent crying and distress
  • Persistent cough, difficulty in swallowing, wheezing, shortness of breath and hoarse voice is called anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening food allergy

The most common foods that causes allergy in babies are:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Peanut

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance in babies is caused by some substance present in the food they eat. It is not caused by the immune system responding to the food. Often, food intolerance occurs after two days of having the intolerance prone substance in food.

Symptoms of food intolerance:

  • Skin redness and dermatitis
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

The most common form of food intolerance that occurs in babies are:

  • Milk or lactose intolerance
  • Some react to strawberries
  • Tomato can also cause food intolerance

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Food allergies and intolerances in babies can be controlled in the following ways:

  • Avoid the food: It is very important to avoid the food that causes allergies and intolerance in your baby. So, you should be aware of these foods. Carefully read the food labels and see if words like ‘whey’, ‘casein’ etc. are there. Presence of such words means, having the product can lead to allergies.
  • Have an emergency plan: Parents should speak to their doctor to give them an emergency plan which will help them to recognise allergies and intolerances and if medical attention is needed or no

Diagnosing food allergies or intolerances

If you find that your baby is having a food allergy or intolerance and not getting better, you should always consult your doctor. If the allergies and intolerances are not mild, they will be cured by taking the prescribed medicines. Some tests may need to be done, as well. As mothers breastfeed their babies, they should not eat the foods that causes allergies and intolerances during the pregnancy and breasting period.

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The Goodness of Milk During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, milk and milk related items provide various types of nutrients to the pregnant woman and her developing baby. According to clinical research, it is found that milk consumption during pregnancy shows better results. Moreover, it benefits newborn babies during the early stages of their lives. So, it is recommended to have at least three glasses of milk daily directly or indirectly.

Consuming-Almond-Milk-During-Pregnancy

 

Benefits of milk during pregnancy:

As milk is one of the dietary sources of nutrients, intake of milk during pregnancy is very important. The following nutrients which are very essential for the proper growth of the foetus and also for the mother can be derived by consumption of milk.

  • Calcium

Milk is a vital source of calcium for human beings. During pregnancy, if the intake of calcium rich foods like milk is not adequate, then the foetus will not meet the demanding needs of calcium for healthier bones and teeth. So, it is very necessary for the mom-to-be to have the required quantity of calcium in the form of milk to keep her bones and and that of her developing baby strong. Drinking milk regularly will make both their bodies strong and flexible and also help in strengthening nails.

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  • Vitamin D

Milk is one of the few dietary sources of Vitamin D, which helps to prevent low birth weight, neonatal rickets and other associated problems.

  • Protein

An excellent source of protein, milk, if taken adequately, provides the protein needs of pregnant women. A cup of low fat milk daily provides 8.22 gm of proteins. Protein plays an important role during pregnancy as it serves a number of important functions like proper blood supply, build-up of the uterus, remodelling breasts and tissues of the baby. Inadequate consumption of protein can lead to low birth weight babies and other heart related problems during pregnancy.

Which type of milk is good for pregnant women?

According to research, it is found that babies born to mothers who drank sufficient milk during pregnancy are more likely to be tall as teenagers.

  • Low fat milk: It is not necessary to drink whole milk during pregnancy as the presence of unsaturated fats in whole milk is unhealthy for expecting mothers. So, it is better to consume low fat or non-fat milk. You can add skimmed milk to your diet in order to decrease the level of saturated fat.
  • Pasteurised milk: Drinking raw or unpasteurised milk or having anything made from raw milk is not safe for pregnant women. It increases the risk of various diseases for both the mother and the baby as it can carry microbes. So, it is very essential to have pasteurised milk. Generally, during pasteurisation microbes get destroyed when the milk is heated at a high temperature.

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