Pregnancy, lactation and nutrition

The right nutrition during pregnancy and the subsequent lactation stage can make a difference to the health and development of the baby not only during infancy but even later in life. 

 

Importance of breastfeeding

Apart from the emotional connect between mother and child; breastfeeding also helps the uterus regain normal size from enlargement during pregnancy.1

Why does the mother require additional nutrition during pregnancy and lactation?

During pregnancy and lactation, the nutritional needs of a woman increases as she has to meet demands for:1

  • Growth of the foetus
  • Development of the placenta (placenta is the tissue in the uterus which provides nourishment to the foetus)
  • Increase in circulating blood in the mother
  • Enlargement of maternal tissues such as breast tissue and the uterus
  • Milk production and secretion 

If the mother is undernourished it can lead to a number of complications like increased risk of infection in both the mother and the baby, anaemia (low haemoglobin levels), weakness, and low birth weight.2

Hence, it is important for the mother to get proper nutrition throughout pregnancy and lactation either through diet or supplements.

Did you know?
The prevalence of anaemia in India is highest in the world.3

 

Nutritional requirement during pregnancy and lactation

Carbohydrates:

A woman gains about 12-14kg weight during pregnancy. Additional calories are required during pregnancy for foetal growth and development.4 During lactation, the calorie requirement increases even more to produce an adequate amount of milk.This increased calorie requirement can be met through carbohydrates present in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and various types of grains and cereals.1

Proteins:

Proteins form the basic building blocks of the body. Hence, during pregnancy, almost 50% more protein is required for the development of the foetus.4,5 During lactation, the mother requires additional amounts of protein for the synthesis of breast milk.A pregnant or lactating woman can get protein from fish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, dairy products, nuts, dried beans, peas, lentils, and soy foods.1

Fats:

Fats are important for the formation of hormones and for proper brain development of the foetus. Essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3 are important for the development of the brain and eyes.5 Omega-6 can be obtained from leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, and vegetable oils and omega-3 from sea food, walnuts, flax seeds, soybeans, and canola oil.6

Dietary fiber:

Constipation can be a problem during pregnancy due to the pressure of the developing foetus on the mother’s intestine. Eating food rich in dietary fiber can help regularize bowel movements. Some examples of fiber-rich foods are sapodilla, guava, apple, and pear (eaten with their skins), whole wheat bread, and green leafy vegetables.1

Vitamins:

Here is a list of some vitamins that are important during pregnancy and lactation:

  • Vitamin A (retinol) – requirement of this vitamin increases by about 25% during pregnancy and lactation. It is important for proper growth of the foetus. Vitamin A can be obtained from liver, butter, cream, whole milk, egg yolks, green and yellow vegetables, yellow fruits, and tomatoes.1,4
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) – involved in developing blood vessels and absorption of iron, vitamin C, is found in citrus fruits like sweet lime, lemon, oranges, pineapple and vegetable and fruit juices.1
  • Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) – necessary to help build and maintain strong bones and teeth in the foetus and can be obtained from butter, egg yolk, liver.1,5  
  • Vitamin B-complex – is a group of vitamins, the important ones during pregnancy and lactation are:
    • Vitamin B(folic acid) – helps in maternal blood formation, reduces the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, and increases birth weight. Fresh green leafy vegetables, beans, pulses, liver, and kidney are good sources of folic acid.1,4
    • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) –essential for the formation of RBCs.Rich sources are liver, kidney, milk, eggs, and cheese.1,5
    • Vitamin B(thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B(niacin) – form a part of enzymes involved in metabolic activities like energy production and in the functioning of muscle and nerve tissues. Sources of these vitamins are vegetables, grains, legumes, cereals, beans, nuts, beef, liver, eggs, fish, and milk.1
    • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – helps synthesize non-essential amino acids needed for growth. Good sources include egg yolk, milk powder, legumes, and sweet potatoes.1
  • Choline - supports the structure and function of the brain and spinal cord during foetal development. It is found in broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, beans, peanuts, soy products, eggs, liver, and kidney.5,7
Did you know?
Vitamin B6 given during pregnancy can reduce severe nausea and vomiting.1

Minerals:

Calcium and iron are the most important minerals during pregnancy and lactation. Iron is required for the formation of RBCs and is found in green leafy vegetables and meat.4 Calcium is required for the formation of bones and teeth of the foetus, production of milk during lactation, and to prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis in the mother.1,4 Dairy products like curd and milk, legumes, and leafy vegetables are sources of calcium.1

Tips for mother:

  • A pregnant women should get regular gynaecological check-ups done.8
  • Regular iron, folate, and calcium supplements should be taken during pregnancy and should be continued during breastfeeding as per the advice of the doctor.8
  • At least 1 hour of exercise every day should be done by a pregnant woman unless otherwise suggested by the doctor. Exercises can include walking and swimming.1

 

How can a nutritional supplement help?

During pregnancy and lactation, the gynaecologist may advise the mother to take additional supplements to meet the growing needs of the body. However, due to feelings of nausea and general fatigue, the expecting mother may prefer liquids over tablets. A liquid nutritional supplement is easy to consume plus it contains important nutrients to meet the increased nutritional demands during pregnancy and lactation.

Our balanced nutritional supplement, MaxvidaTM, provides 32 key nutrients with Certi5TM signature nutrients–dual protein, dietary fiber, antioxidants, hemo nutrients,and bone nutrients and has great taste.

It can help the mother meet her nutritional needs during pregnancy and lactation.

We suggest having 1 serving of MaxvidaTM, 2 levelled scoops prepared with water, twice a day, along with a balanced diet for complete nourishment.

 

References:

  1. Joshi SA. Nutrition and Dietetics with Indian Case Studies. Tata McGraw Hill Education Pvt. Ltd. Third Edition. 2010.
  2. CORE. Maternal Nutrition during Pregnancy and Lactation Dietary Guide. [internet]. [cited 2016 Nov 01]. Available from: http://www.coregroup.org/storage/documents/Workingpapers/MaternalNutritionDietaryGuide_AED.pdf
  3. Purandare CN. Maternal Nutritional Deficiencies and Interventions. J ObstetGynaecol India. 2012 Dec; 62(6):621–23.
  4. ICMR. National Institute of Nutrition. Nutrient Requirements and Recommended Dietary Allowances for Indians. [internet]. 2009. [cited 2016 Nov 01]. Available from: http://icmr.nic.in/final/RDA-2010.pdf
  5. Brown LS. Nutrition Requirements during Pregnancy. [internet]. Jonas and Bartlett Publishers. [cited 2016 Nov 01]. Available from: http://samples.jbpub.com/9780763777920/77920_CH01_001_024.pdf
  6. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Essential Fatty Acids. [internet]. [cited 2016 Nov]. Available from: http://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/health/pv_essential_fatty_acids.pdf
  7. SourceGeneReviews® Phillips IR, Shephard EA. Primary Trimethylaminuria. [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2016.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20301282
  8. Diet in Pregnancy and Lactation. [ebook]. Nutrition Society India. [cited 2016 Oct 24]. Available from: http://www.nutritionsocietyindia.org/Download_files/pregnancy%20and%20lactation%20diet%20fianl%20-1%2010.4.13.pdf