Dr. Swati Rai
Dr. Swati Rai


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Posted on Sep 14, 2022

Nutrition During Pregnancy

About 300 extra calories are needed per day to maintain a healthy pregnancy. These calories come from a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You also need protein, folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins.

Nutrition During Pregnancy

Healthy foods during pregnancy foster a baby’s brain development and healthy birth weight. A mother is a source of nutrition to the embryo. A balanced and healthy diet prevents the baby from birth defects as well as wards off unpleasant symptoms in pregnant women such as morning sickness and anaemia.

A balanced diet is a healthy diet that incorporates different foods in adequate quantities and proportions to provide required calories, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and alternative nutrients.

List of healthy foods during pregnancy:

An expectant mother must include the following nutritious food in her balanced diet chart during the pregnancy:

Fruits and vegetables: Have you heard of the rainbow diet? Actually the rainbow diet is the combination of different healthy foods consisting of different colours of fruits and vegetables available in the season. Incorporating various fresh fruits and vegetables will provide adequate fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Avocados are rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, which have antioxidant properties. It is one of the pregnancy superfoods.

Fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed if you are eating them raw. Pregnant women must include sweet potatoes, broccoli, green vegetables, pomegranate, and apples in their healthy diet plan.

Starchy foods or carbohydrates: Starchy foods should make up roughly one-third of a woman's diet during pregnancy. Starchy foods – such as bread, sweet or regular potatoes, pasta, rice, cereals, noodles, oats, and legumes like lentils or beans. It satisfies hunger without containing too many calories.

Protein: Proteins act as building blocks in the development and growth of a baby. Protein helps to acquire healthy body weight in new-born babies. Eggs, poultry, lean meats, salmon, paneer, curd are good sources of protein. Pregnant women must have protein in their healthy diet.

Eggs: Eggs are powerhouses of nutrients and proteins. It also contains healthy fat and choline. Choline is an essential nutrient that helps in the brain development of newborns. It prevents developmental disturbances of the brain and spine.

Legumes: These are a great source of plant-based protein. Lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas, soya beans, and peanuts are examples of legumes. Sprouted lentils can be a good addition to curries, salads, toasts, etc

Dairy products: Dairy products are also considered healthy foods for mothers and neonatal babies.They fulfill the requirement of calcium and protein during pregnancy. It includes milk, cheese, paneer, yogurt, etc.

Casein and whey are two high-quality proteins found in milk and milk products. Yogurt contains calcium in good amounts. Probiotic bacteria in yogurt keep the digestive system healthy.

Water: Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day. To keep yourself hydrated you can add fluids in different forms like fresh fruit juices, coconut water, smoothies, soups, etc. Water intake will ensure the internal system runs smoothly. It will improve bowel bladder movement and prevent constipation.

Dry fruits and berries: Dry fruits are also healthy foods. They are reservoirs of energy and snaking on them during pregnancy is a great idea. Dry fruits are rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, etc. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, dates, etc contain natural sugar, which is an added health benefit. Mixtures of nuts, seeds, and barriers can be healthy snacks from the first to third trimester.

These are some must have healthy Indian foods for a pregnant woman. A pregnant woman should eat well and consume nutritious food by preparing a balanced and healthy diet chart.


Essential nutrients required during pregnancy

Here are some essential nutrients which a pregnant woman must have taken in their healthy diet.

Prenatal vitamins: Supplements are important to fill the gaps of nutrition requirements that are not fulfilled by healthy food alone.

Prenatal vitamins play an important role in pregnancy by satisfying the body's increased demand for micronutrients. Prenatal vitamins should be taken before conception, during pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Some of the prenatal vitamins are as follows:


Folic acid or folate is beneficial for growth and development, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis. 600 mcg folic acid per day can decrease the risk of congenital heart defects, neural tube defects such as spina bifida, cleft lip, and cleft palate. Cereals, leafy green vegetables like spinach, citrus fruits, beans, and green peas are good sources of folic acid.


Iron is also required for growth and development as well as oxygen transport. Iron deficiency anaemia is common in pregnant women which leads to preterm birth, anaemia of infants, and mental depression. Required iron intake is 27 mcg per day.

Eggs, fish, kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed beans, ragi, vegetables like broccoli, spring greens, soya beans, and dry fruits can add iron to your diet. Citrus fruits help in the absorption of iron whereas drinking tea and coffee will reduce the absorption of Iron, especially when consumed with meals.


Vitamin D deficiency can lead to the risk of preeclampsia, C-section delivery, gestational diabetes, and preterm birth. The recommended dose of Vitamin D is 15 mcg per day.

Our skin can absorb abundant vitamin D from sunlight. Everyday walk-in the morning can be beneficial for you and your baby. After birth also doctors advise exposing your baby to mild sunlight for amazing benefits.


Calcium is required for bone and teeth growth of the baby as well as it keeps blood and muscles moving. 1000 mg of calcium is required every day during pregnancy. If this requirement is not fulfilled by diet, then a gynecologist will add calcium supplements. Milk and milk products like paneer, cheese, curd, and vegetables like broccoli, seafood are rich in calcium.


Vitamin B12: It is essential for the formation of red blood cells and the nervous system. Due to deficiency of vitamin B12, neural tube defects are developed in the embryo. During pregnancy 2.6 micrograms of B12 are required. Animal products such poultry, milk, fish, meat, and the liver can provide B12.

The supplements requirements are subjective, please consult your doctor before use.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy:

  • Avoid junk food, bakery products after conception. Prefer home cooked and fresh food.

  • Control sugar intake as it can lead to gestational diabetes. High sugar intake can lead to obesity, tooth decay. Because of frequent eating and poor oral hygiene, tooth decay is more common.

  • Avoid foods that are high in salts such as packets and canned foods.

  • Alcohol is harmful before pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. It can cause birth defects in unborn babies.

  • Protein shakes and protein powders are not considered safe when a baby is growing inside you. Please seek advice before use from your gynaecologist.

  • If you are lactose intolerant you should avoid milk and dairy products.

  • Avoid raw or uncooked or processed meat during pregnancy. Fish with high mercury content should be avoided while pregnant.


All mothers should eat healthy food from first trimester to delivery and also add prenatal supplements to complement babies’ growth. Have a healthy diet, have a happy pregnancy.



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