In India, healthcare experts recommend a balanced, healthy diet rich in calcium, iron and protein during pregnancy. These and other essential nutrients in pregnancy diet are required for the baby as well as for the expecting mother. You can read more about the various essential nutrients in pregnancy diet here.

Why is protein rich diet essential during pregnancy

Amino acids in proteins are known as the essential building blocks of human body. Protein is essential for the development and growth of the fetus. It helps in the growth of baby’s muscles as well as brain, blood, and bones [1] . In the first trimester, a pregnant woman’s protein requirement is usually same as her pre-pregnancy protein requirement. But in 2nd and 3rd trimester the protein requirement increases as the fetus develops and grows. Hence prenatal experts highly recommend a protein rich diet during pregnancy.

Why is Iron important in pregnancy diet

Iron is an essential nutrient required in pregnancy diet. Since the quantity of blood increases in the body during pregnancy, Iron is needed to produce additional haemoglobin, as well as for the growing fetus [2]. Women in India commonly experience significant drop in haemoglobin levels during pregnancy (commonly attributed to iron deficiency in the diet). It is important to have iron rich diet to maintain haemoglobin levels in required range, avoid anaemia and for healthy growth of fetus. Doctors in India commonly prescribe Iron supplements during pregnancy.

Why is Calcium important in pregnancy diet

Another nutrient required during pregnancy is Calcium. Calcium is essential for baby’s strong bones and teeth. As the fetus develops and grows, its Calcium requirement increases. If a pregnant woman’s diet (or supplementation) does not fulfill the calcium requirement, her body will draw the required calcium from the reserves (mainly the bones) [3]. No doubt traditionally drinking 3-4 glasses of milk was a norm  during pregnancy. Body’s calcium requirement continues postnatal, especially for a breastfeeding mother. GYN in India usually  prescribe calcium supplements from pregnancy to as long as a mother breastfeeds.

Supplements during pregnancy

Many doctors in India prescribe Folic acid, iron and calcium supplements during pregnancy. Your doctor may prescribe a multi-vitamin or prenatal supplement as per your requirements.

Even if you take your supplements regularly, it is advisable to eat a healthy diet rich in proteins, calcium and iron and do not just depend on the supplements to provide these essential nutrients.