Health and Pregnancy

Health and Pregnancy

Staying healthy before, during and after pregnancy is vital because the health of a mother directly affects the health of a child, not just during development in pregnancy, but also later in life.

It is ideal to start healthy habits at the time of family planning. Pre-pregnancy nutrition and health status directly affects the process of getting pregnant (conception) and further health of the developing baby.

Nutrition in Pregnancy:

“You are what you eat” is especially important in pregnancy as it also extends to your baby. Eating right is one of the most vital things to do during pregnancy as good nutrition aids in extra demands of the body as pregnancy progresses.

What is the quantity of food to be eaten in pregnancy?

“Eat for two” is one of the most powerful myths of pregnancy. Instead think –

“Eat twice as healthy” because eating for two people is dangerous. Remember – uterus is expanding, not the stomach.

A pregnant woman with one foetus requires only 340 extra calories per day starting in the second trimester (and a bit more in the third trimester). That’s around one glass of skim milk and half a sandwich. Women carrying twins can intake around 600 extra calories a day.

What are vitamins and minerals required during pregnancy?

Additional vitamins and minerals are required during pregnancy. These are folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Most of the vitamins and minerals can be received by consuming proper food. For some like folic acid, iron, calcium, supplements may be given. Consult your doctor and do as he suggest.

It’s important to not skip these multivitamins as they affect important body functions of the mother and also the development of the foetus.

Folic acid – the most essential vitamin for pregnancy

Doctors recommend folic acid even before pregnancy. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) – the birth defects of the foetus’s brain and spine.

Other supplements generally prescribed by the doctors are iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acid (generally in third trimester of pregnancy)

Water – the non-negotiable thing of pregnancy

Drink water throughout the day consciously, not just after being thirsty. If required – put an alarm, set reminders. Aim for 8 to 12 glasses of water a day during pregnancy.

Plan your meals

Often when people read the above line, they think that don’t have the means, resources, or time to plan our food in their busy lives. The fact is healthy meal planning need not be some elaborate scheme. It is about making simple, healthier choices. Just pick the right types of food.

Fruit and vegetables

Try to eat at least 5 portions of fruits and/or vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Be careful to avoid those with added salt or sugar.

Starchy food:

Often misunderstood as fattening, these types of food are also important for energy, certain vitamins and fibre. These include:

  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Noodles

However, it is advisable to choose wholemeal instead of refined, starchy (white) foods.


Protein - the building blocks for baby growth. Foods in this group include meat (Avoid Liver), fish, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, etc.


Excellent protein sources that help build crucial organs such as the heart, brain, and lungs in babies. Especially in a country where the majority of population is vegetarian, generous servings of dals, cooked sprouts, all nuts, whole grains, millets give your body a protein boost.


This is the time to embrace dairy foods because dairy products brim with protein, calcium and B12. Consume whole or toned milk, curd, cheese, chena/ paneer and buttermilk. Also try flavoured yogurts, smoothies and shakes.

Foods to be avoided:

High mercury fish: Excess mercury accumulates in the bloodstream and could damage the baby’s developing nervous system and brain.

Any raw foods such as undercooked or raw fish, eggs, sprouts: May contain bacteria harmful for the baby

Undercooked, raw, and processed meat: Processed meat may contain food poisoning and vomiting causing bacteria in pregnant females.

Organ meat: Can cause birth defects the baby and even result in miscarriage, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Caffeine: May increase heart rate and blood pressure, both causing negative impact on the baby

Unpasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juice: Raw, unpasteurized milk may contain bacteria which can give rise to foodborne illnesses.

Alcohol: Can cause structural defects in the baby; that is, the baby may have abnormal facial features.

Processed junk foods like packaged chips, cold drinks, etc.: Processed junk foods contain a toxic substance called acrylamide and if a pregnant female consumes it in excessive quantity, it may accumulate in the mother’s body and may be harmful to the baby.

How important is to be physically active during pregnancy?

Generally, if a woman conceives naturally, they can and should be physically active during pregnancy. Regular physical activity may –

  1. Help the baby gain the right amount of weight and also result in decreased backaches, leg cramps, swelling, etc.
  2. Reduce risk for developing diabetes for mothers during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  3. Reduce risk for depression in new mothers post-delivery of baby
  4. Physical activity may have an active role in reducing disorders related to pregnancy such as high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia), reduce the length of labor and improve mother’s recovery post delivery, and reduce the risk of having a cesarean section (or C-section)

The intensity of physical activity depends on how active a woman was before pregnancy. If they were physically active before becoming pregnant, there be no need to change the exercise habits. Take expert advice about the workouts in pregnancy.

How much physical activity is needed in pregnancy?

Most women do not require any extra activity if they are pregnant, if they were physically active before conception. Regular activity of 150 minutes per week is sufficient.

How can one stay active while pregnant?

If someone does regular physical activity such as yoga, walking, swimming, gym, etc., consulting the expert in that field and the doctor and together charting out a routine helps.

If the pregnant women is someone who wasn’t as active before, following tips can help them breeze through pregnancy.

  1. Go for walks everyday near home. It could also be in a local park, or sometimes it can be a family outing such as a shopping mall with family members or friends.
  2. If work includes a sitting job, then make sure to get up and move around at least once in every hour. This also applies at home while watching TV. Just simply walking in home also helps.
  3. Plan to do a list of the activities to be physically active. Consult and take a prenatal yoga class by consulting the doctor.

Staying mentally healthy is equally important.

Lastly, mental health is equally important as physical health. Minimize unnecessary stress, engage in simple activities that engages brain in better manner. Even choosing books and movies has a direct impact on the mood.

Spending time with partner is important while doing activities together is a good way to engage the to-be father about the process of childbirth.

Remember, Healthy mothers give birth to Healthy babies!

#pregnancy #healthylifestyle #healthyliving #healthypregnancy #pregnancylife


  1. Carla Miller, Ph.D. Health Tips for Pregnant Women. NIDDK. Accessed on Nov 10, 2023.
  2. Dr. Neera Aggarwal. Obstetrics And Gynaecology , Nutrition And Dietetics. Indian Diet Plan In Pregnancy. Accessed on Nov 10, 2023.
  3. Nutrition During Pregnancy. Accessed on Nov 10, 2023

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