Food and Nutrition

Foods that help in increasing baby's weight during pregnancy

Puja Sharma Vasisht
Pregnancy

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Foods that help in increasing babys weight during pregnancy

You don’t have to eat for two people but eat sensibly and healthy to ensure that your unborn baby is growing and developing in a healthy manner. As an expecting mom you need to have certain foods more to ensure that both your baby’s and your nutritional needs are met. But before we proceed to the must-have foods, let’s see why nutrition is during pregnancy so important.

What Is A Role Of Nutrition During Pregnancy To Help In Foetal Weight Gain?

When a woman is pregnant, the foetus growing inside is dependent on her for all its needs. A pregnant mother needs to take care of her diet to ensure a sufficient supply of blood and nutrients, to the foetus. There are studies which suggest a role of good nutrition during pregnancy to help in fetal weight.

Few Studies To Prove How Nutrition Plays An Important Part In Foetal Weight Gain

According to the study of Journal List Nutrients v.7(1); 2015 Jan PMC4303831, the most promising results come from the consumption of whole foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats. These might be beneficial toward producing an infant of appropriate birth weight.

Similarly a study by Journal of Health Population and Nutrition 2013 Dec; 31(4): 435–445.; suggest that contribution of common nutrients or other nutritional factors present in milk and protein promotes the foetal growth. Therefore, it emphasizes the importance of maternal nutritional intake and availability of nutrients contributing to adequate foetal growth.

What Are The Foods That Help In Foetal Weight Gain?

So here is a list of foods; compiled keeping in mind the above studies, which may help in fetal growth.

  1. Milk: the study suggests, a minimum intake of 200-500 ml per day, may have a positive effect on fetal weight. Milk not only provides good quality protein but is a good source of calcium; a nutrient equally important for your baby. Milk can be taken in plain form. If you are not too keen to take plain milk, you may take it as milk shakes or add it to any porridge like oats/broken wheat /breakfast cereal etc
  2. Curd or yogurt (dahi): Another form in which milk can be taken is curd or yogurt. Adding a bowl of curd to your meals not only ensures a milk product, which is rich in protein but also helps keep your gut healthy as it is a source of lactic acid bacteria with probiotic properties. It can be taken in plain or raita form or even as lassi (buttermilk)
  3. Cottage cheese (paneer) or cheese: Milk can also be included in the diet cottage cheese/cheese. Taking 40-50 grams of low fat paneer/cheese is equivalent to a glass of milk. These can be added to foods like pasta, sandwich, salad or stuffed roti. Avoid cheese if you are having high blood pressure in pregnancy. Take low fat homemade paneer instead
  4. Legumes: Another important food group is legumes which are not only rich in proteins (especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan) but they also provide much needed iron, folic acid and other nutrients like fiber. Do include, at least two servings of these in your daily diet to take care of your protein intake
  5. Pulses: besides the usual cooked dal, you may also add pulse to the soup or add to veggies like bottle gourd/tori/spinach/chulai. A combination like this can take care of both iron and protein requirements
  6. Sprouts: Black Chana/Mung/lobia sprouts can also be included as they not only provide proteins but these are rich in iron. With sprouting the content of vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine , vitamin C etc may increase manifold. These sprouts can be blenderised to get a smooth paste and can be made into different types of cheela/pancake
  7. Soybean: Another important food in this group is Soybean. Soybean can be included in various forms in your diet like soy-nuggets, tofu, soymilk or even soybean flour. Soybean is one of the richest source of protein for vegetarians. Soybean itself is rich in iron and if consumed in form of tofu or bean curd, becomes a good source of calcium too. This is because soymilk is coagulated with calcium salts. Tofu can easily be used instead of paneer in most of its recipes. You can have tofu tikka or a stir fried tofu
  8. Peas, beans: these may be taken both in dried or fresh form. They not only provide protein but B complex vitamins, folic acid and minerals like Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Copper. All these are required by the pregnant mother to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Besides it has fiber which helps in constipation, common in pregnancy. These may be added to a variety of foods like soups, pasta, pulao, salads etc
  9. Chicken: If you have non vegetarian food habits then you may include lean meats like chicken/low fat fish. Proteins found in these foods are of superior quality. Lean meat/chicken/fish provide proteins that help in cell and muscle development in the baby. Besides protein, these foods also provide haemoglobin iron. Our body much easily absorbs iron in haem form which in turn helps in pregnancy induced anemia
  10. Fish: Including fish also has the advantage of providing essential fats in the form of omega-3 fatty acids. They are required for proper brain and overall development of the baby. You may go for lean meat as they are the best source of high-quality protein sans the fats
  11. Eggs: For a vegetarian mother another option for an equally good source of proteins instead of flesh foods is egg. Eggs especially are source of good quality proteins and vitamin A, D and minerals like iron etc. In fact eggs have best protein (amino acid) profile and hence the proteins present in it are taken as reference protein. That means quality of proteins of other foods is matched against egg proteins. They are good source of vitamins & minerals especially folic acid, choline & iron. These help to keep the amniotic membranes strong and help in preventing birth defects in the foetus
  12. Green leafy vegetables: especially dark green ones like sarson, chulai, bathua, chana saag, cauliflower, kale, leaves are rich in iron. Iron requirements are high during pregnancy to meet the growth needs of foetus & maternal tissues
  13. Spinach: Spinach is also good source of folic acid. Folic acid is crucial for the brain development of the foetus. It also protects baby from neural tube disorders. Do take green leafy vegetables minimum three times a week to get loads of vitamins, minerals & antioxidants
  14. Broccoli: is another vegetable besides green leafy ones, which provides iron, beta carotene, vitamin E and Vitamin K
  15. Carrots, sweet potato pumpkin: are another set of vegetables to be included in your diet. These vegetables are particularly rich in beta-carotene; a form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for development of healthy eyes, lungs and skin of your baby
  16. Citrus fruits: especially orange is rich in vitamin C and folic acid (deficiency of folic acid may cause neural tube defects). These are also good sources of Thiamin and Potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, which helps in avoiding constipation common in pregnancy. Another important role vitamin C is to help in iron absorption especially from vegetarian diets. Besides citrus fruits you may also include amla, vegetables like red, green and yellow capsicum, to provide vitamin C
  17. Nuts: like almonds, peanuts may also be added to your diet to provide micronutrients like zinc, iron, copper, folic acid. If taken in between your meals, they can be an excellent snack to munch on! These are reasonably good source of proteins and healthy fats, ensuring a healthy weight gain of the foetus
  18. Whole grain cereals: Last but not the least, include whole grain cereals in your diet besides your regular staple. Whole grain like Dalia, Brown rice, Millets should replace the refined cereals in pregnant women’s diet. These are packed with nutrients like iron, selenium, magnesium and sufficient fiber besides carbohydrates. Including these in your snacks recipes instead of refined cereals (like maida, cornflour), would definitely help to bridge the gap created with the increased requirements of pregnancy and supply with an imbalanced diet
  19. Supplements: Iron, folic acid supplementation may also increase birth weight of the infant

Disclaimer: the above list of foods is only suggestive and may not always lead to fetal weight gain, though these foods might help in weight gain. In case the fetal weight gain is going slow, please take advice of your gynaecologist.

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