Fetus is not a parasite- it cannot rob the mother of the nutrition she requires which means that the baby in the womb is generally harmed more by poor maternal nutritional status than is the mother.1 This highlights the importance of the common knowledge of “eating right during pregnancy for child’s sake” and that is having a healthy, well-balanced diet loaded with the right amounts of nutrients.
However, eating a healthy balanced diet can really be challenging for pregnant women due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Common ailments of pregnancy such as nausea and vomiting can make them physically miserable. But the good news is- these can be relieved through dietary measures. The following are some of the recommendations for women experiencing nausea and vomiting:1
- Separate liquid and solid food when eating
- Avoid odors and foods that trigger nausea like garlic and bitter-tasting vegetables
- Select foods that are well tolerated such as hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and crackers
- Take Vitamin B6 (please consult your doctor for the right dose)
- Take ginger, 1 gram a day for 4 days
Some women can develop extreme version of “morning sickness” called hyperemesis which can lead to weight loss and dehydration.2 This condition requires medical attention. The following are simple ways that can help address this condition:2
- for prevention: taking multi-vitamins before getting pregnant
- if pregnant women develop hyperemesis (extreme version of morning sickness): having healthy dietary changes such as eating small frequent meals that are high in protein and avoiding spicy, fatty, or oily foods.
- Take ginger such as ginger tea, capsules, or candy.
Women can also have food cravings and sudden food dislikes which are also related to pregnancy hormones. It’s okay to give in to food cravings, as long as pregnant woman continue to eat a variety of healthy foods daily.
The following are some nutrition tips for pregnant women:
- Eat whole-grain breads, cereals and grains
- Include five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in the diet daily
- Choose unsaturated fats such as plant oils and lessen intake of cholesterol-rich saturated fats such as butter, lard and other animal products
- Avoid salty and sweet foods
- Drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep
- Remain physically active
- Maintain healhty weight gain
- Do not smoke
- Do not drink alcohol
- Avoid raw and undercooked foods as they may contain harmful bacteria that can cause illness
A healthy diet and good nutritional status maintained before and throughout pregnancy reduce the risk of birth defects, suboptimal fetal growth and development, and chronic health problems later in life.3Now is the right time to start.
- Brown, Judith E. 2011. Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. WADSWORTH Cengage Publishing, USA.
- Farid, Huma. 2019. Hyperemesis: (Way) Beyond Morning Sickness. Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. Accessed at https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hyperemesis-way-beyond-morning-sickness dated 04 February 2023.
- Kaiser L, Allen LH. 2008. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy Outcome. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108:553-561.