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Nutritional care during Pregnancy and Lactation

Nutritional care during Pregnancy and Lactation

When we build a house the base has to be well-built so that it is strong enough to face different conditions. It is the foundation that matters. Similarly, for a baby “The first 1000 days” of life is the key to unlocking a healthy and bright future.

The “First 1000 Days” is the period that begins with pregnancy till the child reaches their second birthday. This period consists of 280 days of pregnancy and 180 days of exclusive breastfeeding. Each day of this journey is special and influences the way they develop, grow and learn - not just now, but for their entire life.

Nutritional Considerations

Nutrition during pregnancy is a legacy that you’ll pass to the child, that influences their physical growth and mental development. Knowing what and how to eat during pregnancy is beneficial for the health of both, mother and the child. Here are some nutritional considerations during pregnancy-

  • Eat small and frequent meals. Do not skip the meals and avoid long gaps between the meals.
  • The meal pattern should be 3 major meals and 3 snacks in between the meals with a gap of two hours.
  • Eat a variety of foods so that your child adopts them better and not turns into a picky eater.
  • Make sure you include a variety of foods from all the food groups– cereals (wheat, rice, ragi, bajra), milk and milk products, 4-5 servings of seasonal vegetables and fruits, fish/meat/lentils.
  • Use a mixture of oils to ensure an adequate amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids in your diet. For example- a combination of mustard oil and groundnut oil can be used. Don’t re-use or overheat oils as it contains trans fats.
  • Limit food with high content of fat, sugar, or salt, like chips, pickle etc. Don’t consume processed, canned or street foods.
  • Stay hydrated 3-4 litres of water intake is advised. Limit the intake of tea or coffee to a maximum of 2 cups per day.
  • Stay physically active. Moderate activities like yoga and walking 30 minutes daily is beneficial during pregnancy. 
  •  One needs to have proper 8 hours of sleep. Lie to your left side it helps in better blood supply to the baby.


Breast milk is the best food for the baby. The baby should be breastfed within the first hour after birth. From the moment the baby is born, there are certain things you can do for successful breastfeeding.

  • One should spend the first hour after birth holding, stroking, and looking at your baby. It lays the foundation of the parent-child relationship and hormonal response linked to successful breastfeeding.
  • Encourage exclusive and on-demand breastfeed the child for 6 months. Don’t give anything except breast milk, not even water.
  • For the first two to five days after delivery, your body produces a thin yellow fluid (colostrum) it contains protein and antibodies to protect your child from infection. It is child’s first vaccine, do not miss it. 
  • Offer both the breasts for feeding alternatively to ensure proper milk flow from both the breasts.
  • Ensure the right position for breastfeeding.The Baby’s mouth should be wide open, nipple and most of the areola (the dark area around the nipple) should be deep in the baby’s mouth. Baby’s chin will be pressed into the breast. His nose should be clear for easy breathing. 
  • Make sure the baby is properly attached (latched). It helps to have a good supply of milk and the baby will get a good feed and minimizes nipple soreness.
  • Certain foods help in milk production and are called galactagogues like milk, sauf, ajwain, garlic, gaund, til and should be added to the diet.

Benefits of breast-milk for the mother-

  • It helps in development of thee emotional bond between the mother and child.
  • Promotes faster weight loss after birth.
  • Breastfeeding protects the mother from developing certain cancers like breast cancer and ovary cancer.

Breastfed babies have –

  • Higher IQ levels and better visual development.
  • Stronger immune systems
  • Lesser incidences of digestion problems, diarrhoea and constipation.
  • Fewer colds and respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and whoopingcough.

Common Practices that can harm your Baby –

  • Giving honey or ‘JanamGhutti” to the baby. Money may contain bacteria that can lead to infant poisoning.
  • Giving Cow’s milk – thinking it’s light & sacred.
  • Using a bottle to feed, the surfaces may contain infection-causing bacteria or virus and can be harmful to the baby’s health. 

Now let’s address some myths about breastfeeding-

  • Amount of milk isn’t enough- Amount may be less initially but it increases gradually as it is converted to mature milk. so don't worry.
  • I have Inverted nipple- don’t worry nipples will protrude as the baby starts sucking.
  • I have to drink a lot of milk for breastfeeding- all you need to do is have balanced diet on regular basis.

Your baby depends on you for everything. So, take care of yourself and give your child the right nutrition and a healthy start to life.

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