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Child Nutrition Starts from Preconception

Child Nutrition Starts from Preconception

Diet and lifestyle during the Pre-conception stage is as important as nutrition during childhood.
The story of a healthy baby begins much before its birth – the planning state. Eating habits as well as your lifestyle, all of it passes to your baby. So, it is important to be on a healthy diet and quit smoking, drinking or any other bad habits. You should consider the following points at this stage: -

1. Age

Early pregnancy below the age of 18 years of age may risk the lives of both mother and the child. There is high risk of low birth weight and under 5 mortality. Your body should be ready for the new one, Therefore, it is important to consider age as you start planning for a baby.

2. Maintain a gap in between two consecutive pregnancies

To restore the nutrients, and provide better nourishment (exclusive breastfeeding) to your baby, maintain a gap of at least 2 years between the 1st and 2nd child.

3. Stay active and maintain ideal body weight

We often observe that before and during pregnancy women are overfed by parents and in- laws and lack in physical activity resulting in excessive weight gain, which may lead to Pre-pregnancy obesity. Overweight women have increased risks of infertility and they also face problem during their pregnancy period like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (high blood pressure).
On the other hand, Underweight women are at increased risk of giving still and underweight baby. Therefore, it is recommended to eat as per requirements and stay active.

4. Regular check-up

Get your blood pressure, blood sugar, and other routine examinations and clinical check-up done. Maintain your haemoglobin level, it should not be less than 12 gram/dL. Folic acid supplementation is recommended.

5. Protect Yourself from Infections and take necessary vaccines

Maintain self-hygiene by washing hands regularly while food handling. And get vaccinated as these are our best defence against many diseases.

Nutrition Guidance-

The mother’s nutrition, while planning the pregnancy as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding, plays a substantial role in influencing the baby’s physical and mental development.

Here are some tips for the same-
Eat small and frequent meals. Your Meal pattern should be 3 major meals+ 3 snacks in between the meals.
Include cold press vegetable oil, avoid refined oils.
• Don’t indulge in bad eating habits (skipping meals, late meals, eating unhealthy processed foods etc.).
• Limit intake of tea/ coffee.
• Make sure your diet includes one item from each group –

1. Cereals

Rice, Wheat, Ragi, Bajra, Jowar in chapatti, halwa, idli, dosa, upma, poha etc.

2. Fruits and vegetables

Include 3-5 serving of fruits & vegetables for example 3 serving of veg distributed in BF, lunch & dinner and 2 fruits in mid snacks.

3. Protein

you can have fish, eggs and meat or choose any of the pulses and have at least 2 katoris a day.

4. Milk and milk products

You can choose between 2 glasses of milk, or 2 katoris of curd or 60 gm paneer.

5. Fat

Use a mixture of mustard oil and rice bran oil or mustard oil and groundnut oil, to ensure adequate quantities of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids in your diet.

6. Water

Drink at least 10 - 12 glasses of water every day.

There are some specific nutrients that are very essential during the stage of pre-pregnancy like Calcium and Vitamin D. Calcium is essential for bone development and Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and bone mineralization. Vitamin C helps in regulating the menstrual cycle. Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones and it’s deficiency leads to disorders including stillbirth, mental retardation and low IQ level in newborns.
The requirements of these nutrients can be fulfilled by consuming Balanced Diet, and we must encourage ourselves to consume a balanced diet rather than use of supplements. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, the more colourful your meal is more nutritious it is.
“Give your baby a healthy start in life” Child nutrition is not limited to feeding the child it starts much before, at the time of pre-conception as you start planning a child. You and your body should be ready to welcome the new member of the family.

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