Healthy nutrition is needed during pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy. The need for certain nutrients such as energy, protein, iron, iodine, calcium, and foliate increases during this period. Have a balanced diet, including five food groups like cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products and fats that provide the body with essential vitamins, and minerals.
Babies born with a healthy weight have a lower risk of health problems at birth and later in life. During winters, you should take care against flu-like infections, common cold, chills, among others. Pregnancy care should comprise measures to elevate immunity levels by consuming the right kind of food in the right quantity.
Foods to eat during winter
Eat a variety of foods from each food groups. The quantity of calories you need depends on your daily physical activities, weight before pregnancy and during pregnancy. In the first trimester, you usually do not need extra calories. In the second and third trimesters, most women should eat at least extra about 300 calories daily.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as they are rich in antioxidants which help in boosting immunity. It is recommended to have Vitamin-C rich fruits, like Orange, Sweet lime, Melons, Amla, and Banana which ensures better Iron absorption. Eat more Green, Red, and Orange vegetables. Green vegetables include Broccoli, Spinach, Shepu, Lettuce, and Cauliflower. Orange and Red vegetables include Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash, and Red Peppers.
Iodine is a crucial mineral needed for the production of Thyroid Hormone, which is vital for growth and development. Inadequate Iodine intake increases the risk of mental impairment and Cretinism (severely stunted physical and mental growth) in the new-born baby. Good Iodine sources include seafood, Eggs, and Iodized Salt.
- Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. Liquids such as fresh juices, lime water, Buttermilk, Milkshakes, Soups, and Dal water keeps you hydrated.
- Eat a healthy amount of Iron-rich foods such as lean meat, beans, green vegetables, and fortified cereals.
- Eat at least 3- 4 servings of milk and milk products to meet the increased requirement of Calcium and Protein.
- Eat at least 8 to 10 servings of grains and pulses to meet the additional calories for baby’s development
- Constipation is common during pregnancy. Eat food high in fibres like fruits, vegetables, salads, beans, grains, and oilseeds (Flax seeds, Sunflower seeds, Chia seeds, Sabja, and Pumpkin seeds).
Foods to avoid during winter:
- Food, drinks, high in saturated fat, added sugar, and salt is not a necessary part of a healthy diet and should be limited
- Avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol can increase your risk of a miscarriage, stillbirth, and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. Your baby may also be born too small and have other health problems, such as learning problems later in life.
- Limit caffeine intake to avoid possible health problems. Caffeine is present in Coffee, Tea, Cola, energy drinks, and Chocolate.
- Avoid fish high in Mercury, undercooked or raw or processed meat, eggs, sprouts, unpasteurized milk, and its products. It may increase the risk of bacterial infections.
- Avoid processed food during pregnancy as they can increase the risk of excess weight gain, Gestational Diabetes, and its complications.
Tips to take care of during pregnancy in winters:
Hydration: Chilled and dry winter air can cause dehydration in the body. Expectant mothers should be well hydrated otherwise dryness of skin may lead to skin rashes, decrease in Amniotic Fluid, and also cause repeated Urine Infection. Apart from water, coconut water, and homemade soups are good for keeping them hydrated. Hydration also prevents pre-term labour.
Avoid outdoor activities: Winter comes with many health issues. Pregnant women have low immunity, so they are prone to get various infections quickly. A common cold is common in winter. It is crucial to get Flu vaccine when in 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Intake of over the counter drugs should be avoided. Medicine, if required, should be taken as per doctors’ advice.
Moisturise: Dry skin can get itchy and flaky during winters. The skin should be moisturised, especially, after bath to avoid itchiness and stretch marks.
Exercise: Light exercises and prenatal Yoga (under guidance) is beneficial in many ways. It keeps the body flexible, strengthens the immune system and helps to fight illnesses like common cold and flu. It also prevents swelling and leg cramps, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, and others.
Protect yourself: Keep a safe distance from sick people. Also, keep yourself clean, it will help protect from many diseases.
Dress comfortably: Layering of clothes is crucial to protect from cold. Very tight clothing should be avoided.
Diet: Diet should well-balanced, and healthy. Salt and Sugar should be consumed in moderation. There is a tendency of the rise of blood pressure during winters. Salty and processed food should be limited.
Dr Bandita Sinha,is a Gynaecologist at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi
Niyati Likhite is a Dietician, attached with Fortis Hospital, Kalyan