I am Dr. Amrita Mallik, a medical officer by profession. When I congratulate a couple for the upcoming good news in their life, I usually get mixed reactions. Some would-be parents are highly excited while some are happy yet worried. The worry or anxiety is usually built up around the mother’s health, baby’s health and fear of unknown. A positive assurance and a few necessary advice calms them.
My first advice is to focus on mother’s nutrition. With the appearance of two pink lines, you are already a mother, a bountiful being of life and vigor with two pounding hearts. Secondly I burst the myth of ‘Eating-For-Two’ which is so widely spread in our society from common hearsay only. Woman’s choice is the deciding factor regarding what and how much she wants to eat. The pregnancy diet should be ideally light, nutritious, easily digestible and rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins. Yes, nutritional requirements increases in pregnancy but we need to know what and how much more is needed.
Here is a simple guiding table of nutrients whose requirements increases for a pregnant and lactating mother as compared to a non pregnant woman of reproductive age.
An expecting mother can still continue to eat normally until the end of the first trimester. But in the second half of pregnancy she will need 300 kilo calorie of energy more than her non pregnant state; and 400 kilo calories extra during lactation. In the first trimester, vitamin B, folic acid, choline and DHA are necessary for successful brain and nervous system development. From the second trimester, proteins, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, vitamin A and D also increases, as fetal growth begins with muscle building, bone formation and organogenesis processes starting up.
Pregnancy creates a negative iron balance state which can’t be met with dietary intake alone. Supplements are necessary for raising iron, folic acid and hemoglobin levels. High dose requirements of Vitamin A and D can be met from animal source only. For other vitamins and minerals, consumption of green vegetables, fruits and nuts should be increased. Most nutrients of food are destroyed upon cooking or are not in an absorbable state. Calcium requirement is doubled in pregnancy and tripled in lactation. The best source of calcium and vitamin D is cow’s milk. 1 liter of good quality cow’s milk contains 1 gm of calcium. Most women reject the taste and smell of milk or even dairy products all together. Above that, thanks to the nausea and vomiting brought over by the pregnancy hormones, most women do not include dairy products in their pregnancy diet at all.
This persuades me to recommend mother’s horlicks to expecting mothers. 1.5 teaspoonful of mother’s horlicks modifies the taste and smell of a 200 ml glass of milk as well as fortify it by adding another 5 gms of calcium to the existing 8 gms (approximately) of calcium already present in the milk. Besides calcium, it also provides ideal quality of proteins with 100% amino acid score (AAS) and 25 other vital nutrients necessary for adequate fetal growth and successful lactation. It can easily serve as a one-time snack in a day either at mid-morning or at bed-time as per personal choice of routine.
Weight gain in pregnancy should be monitored. A healthy female with normal BMI, should ideally gain 11kg over the whole period of pregnancy. For overweight females with BMI ranging within 26-29, weight gain is limited up to 7kgs. Obese females with BMI >29 should restrict themselves to gain as less weight as possible.
Multiple small nutrient rich meals, adequate rest and light activity daily are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. At last, I strongly recommend Mother’s Horlicks over tablet supplements for a pregnant and lactating mother.
(source- D.C. Dutta’s textbook of obstetrics)
Disclaimer: It is important to consult with your Doctor before deciding the dose and content of nutrition before consumption.
The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and intended as an educational aid