Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers ~ Nursing Guru

Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers

Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers

Motherhood is a testing phase in the life of all women and it can be physiologically, mentally and nutritionally. If a woman is pregnant in family, make sure she eats well. Extra diet and extra attention is required during pregnancy and lactation. 

This additional food is required to meet the Baby's nutritional requirement in her womb. Additional food is required to improve weight gain in pregnancy (usually 10-12 kg) and birth weight of infants (about 2.5kgs-3kgs).

Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers

Diet for pregnant mothers

Nutrition requirement 

The nutritional requirement of a pregnant woman continues to change depending on the various trimesters of pregnancy. In some cases, micronutrients (such as folic acid / iron tablets) are especially required in additional. It is equivalent to reducing the risk of malformations in the baby and increasing the birth weight of baby and to prevent anemia in pregnant women.


An additional intake of calcium is required, during the pregnancy and lactation phase, to adequate formation of bones and teeth of the baby, for the secretion of breast milk that is rich in calcium and prevent osteoporosis in child and lactation mothers therefore diet should contain calcium rich foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, green leafy vegetables, legumes, and seafood.


Vitamin A is needed during breastfeeding to improve survival of babies. Apart from these, the nursing mother should also take nutrients like vitamin B12 and C. Iron is necessary for the synthesis of hemoglobin and to provide immunity against diseases Iron deficiency leads to anemia. 

Take vitamin C rich fruits like currants (Amla), Guava, Oranges and fruits rich in citrus for better absorption of iron from your diet. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy causes stillbirths, abortions, and cretinism therefore, use iodized salt in your food.


Iron deficiency is specially common in women of reproductive age and children. Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the chance of maternal mortality and produce low birth weight infants. Vegetable like leafy green vegetables, legumes, and dried fruits contain iron. Tin can also obtained through sources such as meat, fish and poultry products.

It is important for a pregnant mother to maintain the fetus, as well as its own health, to provide strength required during labor and for successful breastfeeding. Make sure the diet taken during pregnancy it is light, nutritious, easy to digest and rich in essential nutrients

Ideal body weight for pregnant and lactating mothers

Before trying to get pregnant, the mother has to gain the ideal body weight for a certain height (20 to 23 BMI) if mother is underweight or mother may choose to lose some weight if mother is overweight. It is a good idea to be as close to the recommended weight for a certain height (BMI) as possible when trying to have a baby, as being overweight or underweight can affect the growth and development of babies. However, consult a doctor before beginning any diet or exercise plan. A pregnant woman needs only 350 calories a day more than before pregnancy. A medium-sized fruit provides 50 to 75 calories. So getting these 350 extra calories it is not required to have lots of food. If the mother's weight is between 20 and 23 BMI before pregnancy, what mother eats during pregnancy may be more important than how much mother eats.

Recommended Diet for a Vegetarian Pregnant Women

Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers

Recommended Diet for a Non Vegetarian Pregnant Women

Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers

Note: Seasonal fruits can be included according to availability and cost. Nuts like camotherws, walnuts or almonds can help the mother meet her additional needs for important nutrients like folic acid, iron, calcium and MUFA and PUFA like omega-3 fats and also provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in fiber. They are a very good source of protein for vegetarians. Walnuts are dense in nutrients and therefore should be eaten in moderation. A part of the energy from oils or cereals can be replaced with nuts. The following table shows the average meal plan for pregnant women doing sedentary work.

What additional care is required?

Adequate intake of a nutritious diet is reflected in optimal weight gain during pregnancy (10 to 12 kg) by the expectant woman. Mother should choose foods rich in fiber (fibre 25 g/1000 kcal) like whole grain cereals, pulses and vegetables, to avoid constipation. Excess intake of beverages containing caffeine like coffee and tea adversely affect foetal growth and, hence, should be avoided. In addition to satisfying these dietary requisites, a pregnant woman should undergo periodic health check-up for weight gain, blood pressure, anaemia and receive tetanus toxoid immunization. 

Mother requires enough physical exercise with adequate rest for 2-3 hrs during the day. Pregnant and lactating women should not indiscriminately take any drugs without medical advice as some of them could be harmful to the foetus/baby. Smoking and tobacco chewing and consumption of alcohol must be avoided. Wrong food beliefs and taboos should be discouraged.

Diet for lactating mothers

A balanced diet suitable for a lactating mother should include similar foods that are recommended during pregnancy, but in larger quantities. The twin factors of physical activity and active milk production create additional demand for food, protein, and other energy-producing nutrients. In general, most women who are breastfeeding require 500 calories more than women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Depending on its physical activity, it has 2,500 to 2,700 calories a day. The mother's ability to produce the right amount and quality of milk for her baby's development is remarkable against resilience and malnutrition. 

However, milk production generally affects the synthesis and nutritional status of the mother's body, and breastfeeding women are in high demand for nutrients. In rare cases, such as when a mother is newly diagnosed with breast cancer or who has tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), mother plans to have her baby fed by her healthcare provider. 

Recommended Diet for a Vegetarian Lactating Women

Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers

Recommended Diet for a Non Vegetarian Lactating Women

Diet for pregnant and lactating mothers

Hygiene and food safety

Wash fruits and vegetables to remove all traces of dirt and pesticides. The outer surface of fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with small insects (bacteria, parasites) that can cause food poisoning. Toxoplasma, a parasite, can harm the baby present in raw fruits and vegetables that can cause toxoplasmosis. Also, the skin of fruits and the outer surface of vegetables can contain pesticides that are very harmful. 

Washing or soaking whole vegetables and fruits in salted water for 5-10 minutes kills most insects and removes most pesticides. Make sure to store it and keep it separate from ready-to-eat foods. Ready-to-eat foods are dangerous when stored with raw vegetables. Use a separate cutting board for raw vegetables and for making Roti (phoolka). If vegetables are to be eaten raw, such as salads, care must be taken to clean them and not mix them with raw meat and keep raw meat separate. 

Meat can contain bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter or E. coli and parasites. Meat should be kept separate and a separate cutting board should be used for meat. After cleaning raw meat or vegetables, wash all surfaces, utensils, and hands. This will help prevent food poisoning from bacteria or bacterial toxins (Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, or E. coli) and Toxoplasmosis.

What special care is required to a pregnant and lactating mothers    

The maximum weight gain (10 to 12 kg) during a pregnancy appears to be a nutritious diet to pregnant women. Mothers should choose foods rich in fiber (fiber 25 g / 1000 kcal), such as cereals, legumes and vegetables to avoid constipation. Excessive amounts of caffeine beverages such as tea and coffee should be avoided as it adversely affect fetal growth. 

In addition to meeting these nutritional requirements, a pregnant woman should have regular checkups for weight gain, blood pressure, and anemia, and receive a tetanus toxoid vaccine. The mother needs a lot of physical exercise during the day, which lasts between 2 and 3 hours a day. Pregnant and lactating women should not take any medication indiscriminately without the advice of a physician, as some of them may be harmful to the fetus / baby. Avoid alcohol and smoking. Misconceptions about food and taboos should be discouraged.

Important Point

  • Eat more whole grains, sprouted grams, and fermented foods during pregnancy, both in quality and quantity. 
  • Eat plenty of green leafy fruits and vegetables. 
  • Do not consume alcohol and tobacco. 
  • Take medications only when prescribed by a doctor. 
  • Take iron, folic acid, and calcium supplements regularly as prescribed by the doctor. 
  • Good sources of folic acids are green Leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and liver 

Read about 

Diet for adult male/female 

Diet for growing child 

Diet for infant/Baby



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