Good nutrition is important during pregnancy. A nutritious diet will help you meet the needs of your growing baby, maintain your health and prepare you for lactation. However, you do not have to eat for two. All you need is a wellbalanced diet.
A Balanced Diet
Mothers should eat a variety of foods from the 4 food groups, namely, rice and alternatives, fruits, vegetables, and meat and alternatives. This is because different food groups contain different types of nutrients. For instance, meat and alternatives are rich in protein but have no Vitamin C. Choosing a variety of foods ensures that you get the right balance of nutrients from the 4 food groups. In addition, pregnant women should also consume adequate amounts of milk and alternatives to meet their calcium needs.
Table 1 serves as a dietary guide for pregnant mothers on the types and portions of food to consume.
Rice and Alternatives
Foods in this group provides energy as well as fibre, vitamins and minerals. The amount of energy an individual needs varies with age, weight and activity level. Usually, 6 - 7 servings will be required, including 3 servings from whole grains.
The requirement for most minerals and vitamins increases during pregnancy. These are necessary for the normal functioning of the body. Fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fibre. 2 servings a day are required.
Like fruits, vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. 3 servings a day are required.
Milk and Alternatives
Milk and alternatives provide calcium which is needed for the formation of baby's bones and teeth, and to maintain the pregnant woman's body stores. 2-4 servings of milk and alternatives are required.
Additional Nutrients Needs
Iron is essential during pregnancy to prevent the mother from becoming anaemic (a condition of insufficient red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood). An anaemic mother tends to look pale and feels tired easily.
This is needed for cell growth and cell reproduction. Cells are basic building blocks for tissues. Since folic acid is involved in the formation of blood, a deficiency in folic acid can also cause the mother to be anaemic. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, yeast and meat extracts, citrus fruits and juices (e.g. oranges), beans and fortified foods like cereals.
We need this vitamin every day because our body cannot store it. Vitamin C increases your body’s ability to absorb iron. It is important to note that Vitamin C and folic acid are easily destroyed by cooking and heat. Vitamin C can be found in fruits especially oranges, guavas, papayas, kiwis, lemons, as well as vegetables.
To prevent destruction of Vitamin C, avoid storing fruits and vegetables for long periods of time. Vegetables should also be cooked in small amounts of water to prevent water-soluble nutrients like Vitamin C from being leached out into the cooking water, and in as short a time as possible.
During pregnancy, you need more calcium to maintain your own calcium stores as well as for the development of your baby's bones and teeth. Your calcium requirement during pregnancy is 1000 mg a day.
|Food Group||Recommended no.|
|Example of 1 Serving||Remarks|
|Rice and alternatives|
(including 3 servings from
|6 - 7||1/2 medium bowlrice/noodles|
2 slices bread
2 small chappatis
1 large potato
1.5 cups cornflakes
|wholegrain choices include|
multigrain bread, brown rice
beehoon and brown rice
|Fruits||2||1 wedge papaya/honeydew|
1 small apple/pear/orange
|Vegetables||3||¾ cup (100 g) cooked|
|Protein||2.5||1 medium drumstick|
90 g (1 palm-sized piece) lean meat/fish
¾ cup cooked beans/lentils
2 small squares beancurd
|For heart-health, Remove the skin|
from chicken and fat from meat.
|Milk and alternatives||2 - 4|
1 cup high-calcium milk or high-calcium soybean milk
2 slices cheese
1 small tub yoghurt
|Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy|
Mothers should not gain excessive weight during pregnancy. During pregnancy, an additional 300 calories per day is required.
You can obtain the additional 300 calories from any one of the following :
- 1 chicken curry bun and 1 cup skimmed milk
- 1 plain thosai with dahl curry and 1/2 tub low fat yoghurt
- 1 roll popiah and 1 cup reduced sugar soybean milk
|Gestational Age||Acceptable weight gain based on pre-pregnancy BMI|
|< 18.5||18.5 to 24.9||25 to 29.9||>/= 30|
|1st trimester (kg)||0.5 - 2||0.5 - 2||0.5 - 2||0.5 - 2|
|2nd & 3rd trimesters (kg/wk)||0.45 - 0.59||0.36 - 0.45||0.23 - 0.32||0.18 - 0.27|
|Recommended total weight gain (kg)||12.7 -18.1||11.3 - 15.9||6.8 - 11.3||5.0 - 9.1|
This featured article is contributed by Nutrition & Dietetics, KK Women's and Children's Hospital. To read more please visit www.kkh.com.sg/HealthPedia.