Pregnancy is a time when women believe that they need an extra amount of food for themselves and growing fetus. According to a survey conducted by the National Charity Partnership (NCP),1 in 3 pregnant women still believes that they should consume 300 or more calories every day.
But studies have shown that this myth has harmful effects on the mother as well as baby health. Eating too many calories means excess weight gain which can be detrimental for both mother and baby.
There are no official guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy in UK, but according to the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation:
Pregnancy complication for overweight or obese women
- Gestational diabetes
- Preeclampsia or high blood pressure
- Increased risk of Miscarriages
- Cesarean section
Being overweight or obese causes a problem for baby:
- Large for gestational age
- Premature birth
- Birth defects
- Risk of type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and obesity later in life.
According to NICE guidance: A pregnant women normally need to have 2,000 calories per day, as energy intakes do not change in the first 6 months of pregnancy. However, women should require 200 extra calories per day in their last trimester. These extra 200 calories can be
Take home message;
Moderation is key; Eat varied diet comprises of all food groups.
- Fruits and vegetable should be taken in plenty as they are a good source of fibre and vitamin.
- Choose healthy carbohydrates like whole- grain cereals, bread.
- Proteins either in the form of meat, eggs or plant based like pulses.
- Eat two portions of fish as it is an excellent way to get omega 3 fatty acids.
- Choose healthy snacks.
- Avoid salt laden and sugary food.
Moderate light exercise during pregnancy is also helpful for preventing excess weight gain.
‘‘Listen to your body, but only when you know its intentions are sound.’’