Women, overall, have specific nutritional requirements throughout their life and while trying to conceive, while pregnant and while breastfeeding, they become even more important.
Good nutrition helps you handle the extra demands on your body as your pregnancy progresses. The goal is to balance getting enough nutrients to support the growth of your foetus and maintaining a healthy weight. What kind of diet should a pregnant woman have?
Ayurveda says that a woman’s diet has 3 vital roles during pregnancy:
- स्वशरीर पुष्टी (nourishment of the mother’s own body)
- स्तन्य निर्मिती (lactation)
- गर्भ वृध्दि (development of foetus)
Weight Gain during pregnancy
While your doctor will keep an eye on your weight gain, you too, have to be conscious of whether you are gaining enough and also, not gaining excessive weight.
If you are a healthy weight before your pregnancy, you only need to eat an average of about 300 extra calories a day.
Recent recommendations by the Institute of Medicine for pregnancy weight gain begin your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI).
Trimester-wise pregnancy nutrients needed
First trimester pregnancy diet plans (Conception - 13 weeks)
A vast variety of nutrients are needed, but the most important are:
Iron, folic acid , vitamin C and vitamin B6.
Iron is needed to prepare healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body. Iron deficiency anaemia is quite common. An hb count of 12 is considered as iron deficiency and below 10.5 as anaemia. It makes you feel tired and breathless.
Folic acid protects your baby from neural tube disorders such as spina bifida and other birth disorders like cleft palate.
Vitamin C is the powerhouse that is needed for tissue building and absorption of iron.
Vitamin B6 might help in managing your nausea.
Second trimester pregnancy diet plans (14 - 27 weeks)
The baby’s growth focus in this trimester is brain and bone growth. For this, the mum needs calcium and vitamin D. Omega 3 is essential for your baby's brain development.
A lesser-known but equally-important nutrient is beta carotene, a form of vitamin A that builds healthy blood and skin.
Third trimester pregnancy diet plans (28 - 40 weeks)
Growth is speeding up as the baby prepares to put on weight and mature internal organs to get ready for entering the world. Keep eating a well-balanced and healthy diet. Your energy requirement will increase as your baby is building layers of fat.
Vitamin K is essential for blood to clot, which is important after childbirth. So it is recommended that in your third trimester you eat plenty of food rich in vitamin K so that your body is not low on this vital nutrient at birth.
Keep the iron-intake going since it will keep you strong to welcome the baby!
Indian Diet Chart And Recipes For Pregnancy
- Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup chilled milk.
- Breakfast: Moong daal cheela with chopped spinach in it.
- Mid-morning: Lemonade with rock salt
- Lunch: wheat /jowar roti, green leafy vegetable, salad, buttermilk, flax seeds chutney
- Evening Snack: Banana. You could chop it and add a dash of lemon
- Dinner: Mixed dal khichdi , roasted papad
- Midnight hunger pangs: Handful of roasted chickpeas
- Pre-Breakfast: Soaked dry fruits and nuts
- Breakfast: Paratha with curd and ghee
- Mid-morning: Lassi
- Lunch: Multigrain rotis, seasonal vegetables, salad, pickles, dals and rice
- Evening Snack: Makhana , one seasonal fruit
- Dinner: Khichdi, pickle, papad, soups , multigrain stuffed parathas
- Midnight hunger pangs: Sesame , peanut jaggery laddoos
- Pre-Breakfast: Coconut milk
- Breakfast: Grain porridge
- Mid-morning: Tender coconut water
- Lunch: Multigrain roti, local vegetables, salad, chutneys, pickles
- Evening Snack: One local fruit, 1 glass milk
- Dinner: Khichadi, rice, dal, thalipeeth,
- Midnight hunger pangs: Pickle , soups, papad
Pregnancy Diet to manage nausea and morning sickness
- Boiled vegetables calm the tummy. Rich in folic acid, asparagus, spinach and broccoli are good choices.
- Roast cardamom seeds, powder them and have a small pinch through the day.
- Snack on dry crackers or toast. It helps to always keep a little food in the stomach.
- Have lemon water or, sniff a lemon or simply bite on the slices.
- Sip tea made of 1/4 tsp. ginger powder and/or fennel seeds and hot water.
- If the smell of cooking is making you sick, make a sandwich with grated carrots and hung curd dip.
- Sun-dried Amalaki or Indian Gooseberries work wonders. Slice them, dry them, and store them.
Calorie-requirements for each trimester of Pregnancy
While people would advise that you ‘eat for two’, the right interpretation of this old saying is that you should be eating ‘twice as healthy’!
- About 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester
- About 2,200 calories per day during the second trimester
- About 2,400 calories per day during the third trimester
In the first trimester, adding just about 100 calories per day is good enough. Drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated. Chilled milk can help manage nausea and vomiting.
With the appetite settling and your baby growing, the second trimester calorie demands on you are about 300~ more per day.
As your belly grows in the third trimester, heartburn may be your constant companion. You will need 350~ more calories per day, but do distribute them over small meals, ideally, six meals a day.
Pre-Breakfast Snack Ideas For Pregnancy Diet
A healthy start to your day can include these:
Milk with a pinch of cardamom powder
Add a pinch of cardamom powder and 1 tsp rock sugar powder in a glass of milk and mix well.
Soaked nuts and seeds
Take 2 almonds, 2 cashews, 1 fig, 1 walnut, 8 black raisins, 2 dry dates. Soak these all in water overnight and eat them in the morning .
One seasonal whole fruit
Slice it, dice it, chop it! Whatever you like. But, don’t juice it!
Squeeze fresh lemon juice in a glass of cold water, add a tsp of rock sugar powder and a pinch of salt, mix well and chug.
Roast the peanuts till they become crisp, add rock salt or sendha namak.
Add 5 tsp cow milk, 1 tsp curd, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tsp ghee. Mix well and eat fresh.
Breakfast Ideas For Pregnancy Diet
These suggestions will neutralise stomach acids and keep sugar levels stable after a night of fasting.
Poha with peanuts
- Rinse poha (flattened rice or beaten rice ) twice with clean water and set aside.
- Put peanuts in heated oil and fry until crunchy and golden. Put mustard and cumin seeds and let them splutter , then add curry leaves, green chillies and chopped onions. Sauté until the onions turn pink.
- Add softened poha and mix well . Cover and steam for 3-4 minutes. Add salt and chopped coriander and mix well.
- Sprinkle some shredded dry or wet coconut.
- Add oil to a pan and heat. Add peanuts, chana dal, urad dal , cumin, red chili and mustard. fry till they turn golden. Skip peanuts if using green peas.
- Add chili,ginger, asafoetida and curry leaves and fry till the curry leaves turn crisp. Next, add onions and fry till they turn slightly pink. Then, add chopped vegetables like carrots, peas, and beans. Fry till they turn soft. If needed, cover and cook.
- Rinse and drain the oats. Add turmeric to the pan. Add the rinsed oats. Sprinkle salt and mix everything well.
- Cook covered on a low flame for about 7 minutes. Add coconut, coriander leaves and lemon juice on the top of it.
Laapshi (Cracked-wheat daliya)
- Heat the ghee, add broken wheat, mix well and roast for 5-7 minutes till it turns golden brown.
- Add 2 cups of warm milk , mix well and bring it to a boil. Stir continuously for the next 15-17 minutes.
- Add jaggery, cardamom powder , mix well and cook for 7 minutes more till ghee separates.
- Garnish with almonds and pistachios.
Palak Idlia with coconut chutney and Sambhar
- Combine semolina (rava), curd and water in a deep bowl and mix well. Set it aside for 15 minutes.
- Add spinach paste, lemon juice, salt and 1/4th cup of water and mix well.
- Heat the ghee and add mustard seeds, urad dal, cashew nuts and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add fruit salt, water if needed and the above tempering to the batter and mix well.
- Pour the batter into a greased idli mould and steam for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy these green idlis with coconut chutney and sambhar to make it a complete meal.
Pesarattu / Whole Moong cheela
- Soak green gram in water for 6-8 hours.
- Add the soaked green gram to a blender along with, ¾ inch ginger, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 to 2 green chilies, and ¾ teaspoon cumin. Pour little water as well & blend to a smooth batter.
- Next, on a medium flame, heat a cast iron pan, drizzle a few drops of oil and rub with a sliced onion. 4.Once the pan is hot enough, pour ½ to ¾ cup batter with a ladle in the center of the pan. Spread it to a thin round layer with the base of the ladle. Next add ½ to ¾ teaspoon ghee on the edges & all over.
- When the base of the pesarattu firms up, scrape off lightly. It doesn’t need cooking on the other side if you make it thin. Pesarattu is ready and its best accompaniment is home-made pickle.
Paneer paratha with curd
- Knead a wheat flour dough.
- Stuffing: Add grated paneer, chopped coriander, chopped green chillies, dried mango powder, chilli powder, salt and mix well.
- Put the stuffing into the rolled dough and seal tightly by joining the sides.
- Roll the filled dough into a paratha. Roast on an iron griddle using ghee on both sides till it gets golden brown.
- Enjoy these hot parathas with homemade fresh curd.
- Take Ragi flour (nachni) , black millet flour (bajra) , gram flour (besan), and jowar flour (white millet).
- Add chopped onions, chopped fenugreek, chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin seeds, salt and water. Knead into a soft dough.
- Flatten a small portion of dough into a circle by patting with the fingers . Create 3 holes into it with the index finger.
- Cook the thalipeeth on the iron griddle till it turns golden brown.
- Enjoy this healthy thalipeeth with the fresh homemade curd or white butter.
Mid Morning Snacks Ideas For Pregnancy Diet
The much-loved curd smoothie. Get creative. You could add rose water and a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Or, try a savoury variation by adding ginger powder, cumin powder, black pepper, mint leaves, black salt, red chilies and of course salt. How about a few strands of saffron and topping it with chopped pistachios? Another yummy but lesser known lassi variation is adding papaya and honey to it!
A Kokum Beverage
- Kokum is indigenous to the Western Ghats of India. It has a juicy texture and is high in vitamin C, low in fat and calories, low sugar and high in fiber.
- Make kokum rasam by soaking and boiling the peel in water. Use 1 cup of water for every 2 kokum peels. Add salt and sugar to the mixture once boiled. On the side, briefly heat mustard seeds, chili and cumin in oil. Add these spices to the kokum water concoction. Serve the rasam with rice or serve as a soup.
- Make kokum kadi, a famous sour, savory beverage made by combining dried coconut, salt and green chilies with kokum syrup and water.
- Make a sweet kokum beverage by removing the juicy pulp from the fruit, squeezing it in cheesecloth, then adding jaggery to the juice.
Tender coconut water
Coconut water is rich in carbohydrates and electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium. A lesser known fact is that the sweet and pleasant fragrance of coconut has a good psychological effect that helps diminish anxiety and slow the heart rate.
Carrot spinach smoothie
The mixture of carrot and spinach is rich in vitamin A and iron, both these compounds are essential for the production of healthy red blood cells and haemoglobin. This natural drink improves the capacity of your bones to absorb the calcium in the drink. Blend the two veggies, add salt and lemon and don’t strain it to retain the fibre.
Peanut jaggery laddoo
Peanut is a plant-based protein-rich ingredient and jaggery is loaded with iron. Together they make a great supplement and a healthy snack. Get Vitamin B1, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin K needs met by this nice, crunchy snack.
Roasted chickpeas and peanuts
A rich source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, they also have a low glycemic index that is good for you!
A bowl of puffed rice with peanuts
This simple snack, that you can make and store in an airtight container is good to ease your stomach if you are feeling nauseous. Low in calories, it is nutritious, too!
Lunch Ideas For Pregnancy Diet
This is a primary meal so have a bowl of rice or 2-3 rotis and vegetables. Salads are a good addition. Chew slowly. Eat slowly - take about 30 minutes to finish your meal. Bored with regular food? Here are some nice options:
- Multigrain Thalipeeth with fresh green chutney. How about a glass of healthy lemonade with it?
- Cheelas (moong, besan) with Tomato gojju: Packed with nutrients, it is yummy and a good break from a regular lunch plan.
- Lentils (moth beans, moong beans, black chickpeas, cowpeas) with lemon rice: You could sautee the lentils in onions and tomatoes and have them as a semi-dry side-dish with lemon rice. Don’t forget the roasted peanuts and curry leaves in the lemon rice.
- Leafy vegetables (moringa leaves, fenugreek leaves, dill leaves, amaranth leaves, spring onion) chopped and mixed with paratha dough. Or, sauteed with garlic and rolled in rotis. If you wish to add to the texture in each bite, add crumbled paneer in it.
- Rice and Dal, the evergreen favourite. It’s a comfort food that warms our tummies and souls, too! It is as healthy as it can get. Have some carrot sticks with it for the crunch,
- Mixed Dals (green gram, red gram, black gram, yellow split peas). Soak and sauté them and eat with rice / buckwheat atta rotis or rice-atta cheelas.
- Porridges (emmer wheat, cassava, samo rice, semolina, sweet potato, white rice). If you like to dig into a bowl of porridge, it has superb nutritional benefits. Add some chopped vegetables, too.
Evening Snacks Ideas For Pregnancy Diet
Choose a low-calorie snack in the evenings because you might not be able to burn any additional calories as the night time approaches.
- Chikkis (amaranth jaggery chikki, peanut jaggery chikki, sesame peanut jaggery chikki): This has protein, minerals and vitamins, calcium carbonate, ferrous fumarate, vitamin A and folic acid.
- Laddoos : (emmer wheat, dry fruit, sesame, peanut jaggery, amaranth): Make sure they are made with jaggery and not sugar. And, have in moderation. Sugar-free laddoos that derive their sweetness from chopped dates are the best.
- Sprout bhel : Who doesn’t like this tangy mix of sprouts with tamarind chutney? Make sure that the sprouts are boiled.
- Makhana : Makhanas, also called fox nuts, or lotus seeds, come from a plant called Euryale Fox. They have an important place in the science of Ayurveda. They have anti-inflammatory properties, so roast a few, add seasoning of chaat masala or just rock salt and munch away.
- Murmura bhel: Chop tomatoes, cucumbers, radish and toss in some roasted puffed rice. Popcorn (not the packaged one) can be a nice variation.
- Fruit chaat: Your favourite fruits, chopped up and tossed with rock salt are the best hunger saviours.
- Corn salad: Boiled corn seasoned with peri peri powder or just a dash of lemon is yummy.
Dinner Ideas For Pregnancy Diet
Eat at least 2 hours before bedtime. Choose jowar, nachni, and bajra if you had wheat and rice at lunch-time.
- Slurpy Soup and Khichdi: Start with clear tomato soup, seasoned with coriander leaves. A wheat cracker with the soup would be yummy. How about a bowl of hot khichadi, made with rice, moong-daal, seasoned with homemade ghee and topped with grated paneer? A small portion of onion and carrot salad would be nice and crunchy!Chatpata Cheelas and Chaat: Let’s make dinner fun with cheelas and, surprise, a side of papdi chaat (with tamarind chutney, no curd)
- Multigrain roti-Mushroom curry: Make them using wheat flour, rolled oats and millets combined in equal proportion. You get your iron, protein and fibre in one meal. Add chopped coriander, nigella seeds and salt in the dough. How about a mushroom curry with it?
- Local Focal (pumpkin, ridge gourd,okra,ivy gourd,moringa,french beans,lima beans):Freshly sauteed, locally-grown vegetables are really good for you. To make it interesting, have it with Ajwain (carom seeds) parathas that will soothe your tummy.
- Just Feeling Soupy: Try any of these mint coriander, tomato, spinach, mixed vegetable, carrot, rice, moong, pumpkin. Have the hot soup with a whole-grain bread sandwich layered with cucumbers and a home-made spread.
- Stuffed paratha: Wholesome and filling, they are delicious! Choose a stuffing from paneer, cabbage, fenugreek, spinach, bottle gourd, raddish. Use ghee as a medium to make. A yummy side-dish with parathas is tawa-paneer. If you wish to keep it light, make Bombay Chutney. If made with sattu, it is tasty and wholesome, too.
Healthy Beverages for Pregnancy Diet
A beverage is good, at any time of the day! It helps in hydration and the electrolyte balance. In the first trimester, they help counteract dehydration caused by severe vomiting. During the second and third trimesters, they help maintain the amniotic fluid levels preventing oligohydramnios.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed and seasoned with honey or jaggery.
- Tender coconut water: Give your digestion a boost. This prevents constipation, maintains and regulates the ph. Levels of the body. This, in turn, improves the metabolism and detoxifies the body. As a natural acid neutralizer, coconut water also soothes and prevents heartburn during pregnancy.
- Banana Lassi: How about a lassi with a ripe banana and a crushed pod of cardamom?
- Kokum sherbet: The sweet, tangy, and highly refreshing kokum sherbet will give your intestines a sweet cleansing. Kokam contains flavonoids, hydroxycitric acid, garcinol and anthocyanins. All of them contribute to increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. This helps in reducing anxiety and depression.
- Milk with nutmeg powder: Nutmeg or jaiphal is packed with nutrients: minerals such as magnesium, manganese and copper; and vitamins such as B1, B6. It will relax you and help you sleep better.
- Green gram (moong) drink: Boil and puree moong dal. Make a thin soup-kind consistency and add asafoetida, black pepper and salt while bringing to a boil.
Expert Tips On Pregnancy Nutritional Needs
Your body has increased nutritional needs during pregnancy to support the miracle growing inside you! You definitely require more micronutrients and macronutrients to support you and your baby. Here is list that will help you:
Calcium requirement during pregnancy
Helps to build strong bones and teeth. Main sources include milk, cheese, curd, almonds, soy milk, bok choy, green vegetables. During pregnancy you need 1,000 milligrams (mg) daily.
A popular Indian dish that is rich in Calcium: Green Pea and paneer stuffed paratha
- Make a dough with wheat and jowar flour mix.
- Preparing the green pea stuffing: Addcumin seeds and green chillies 1tbsp of hot oil in a pan. Add mashed peas ,salt and mix well. Let it cool.
- Place a ball of stuffing into the centre of therolled dough circle and seal tightly. Roll out into a paratha.
- Roast the paratha in a pan with ghee on bothsides till it turns golden brown .
- Enjoy it with fresh homemade curd! Even morecalcium!
Iron requirement during pregnancy
Helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to your baby. Sources include legumes, peas, spinach, broccoli, apples, strawberries and iron-fortified cereals. During pregnancy you need 27 mg daily.
A popular Indian dish that is rich in Iron is Raagi nutricake
- Mix ragi flour, semolina, gram flour, chopped onions, chopped coriander, chopped green chillies , salt along with water in a deep bowl.
- Add fruit salt in the batter and mix gently just before making pancakes.
- Pour the batter in moulds and and cook till they turn brown.
- Eat it fresh with coconut chutney.
Vitamin A requirement during pregnancy
You need this vitamin for healthy skin, eyesight, and bone growth. Carrots, dark, leafy greens, mangoes, tomatoes, apricots and sweet potatoes are good sources. During pregnancy you need 770 micrograms daily.
A popular Indian dish that is rich in Vitamin A is Sweet Potato Cutlet
- Combine boiled and mashed sweet potatoes, finely chopped coriander, chilli powder, turmeric powder, chaat masala, lemon juice, corn flour, rice flour and mix well with the water.
- Make small flat tikki, around 50 mm diameter.
- Fry / air-fry the tikkis till they turn golden brown.
- Eat fresh with green chutney.
Vitamin C requirement during pregnancy
Promotes healthy gums, teeth, and bones, and helps your body absorb iron. Good sources include citrus fruit, capsicum, broccoli, tomatoes, and strawberries. During pregnancy you need 85 mg daily.
A popular Indian dish that is rich in Vitamin C is Sprouts, Spring Onions and Tomato Bhel
- Mix boiled mixed sprouts, sliced spring onions, tomato cubes, chopped coriander in a deep bowl.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Sprinkle a dressing of lemon juice, chaat masala, black salt.
- Dig in!
Vitamin D requirement during pregnancy
Aids your body in the absorption of calcium to help build your baby’s bones and teeth. Sources include exposure to sunlight, fortified milk, mushrooms, mint. During pregnancy you need 600 international units (IUs) daily.
A popular Indian dish that is rich in Vitamin D: Desi Mint punch
- Combine mint leaves, black salt, sugar, cumin seeds powder in a blender and blend into a smooth paste.
- Add curd in a bowl and whisk till smooth.
- Add the paste to the whisked curd and whisk till smooth. Mint lassi is ready!
Vitamin B6z requirement during pregnancy
Helps form red blood cells and helps your body use protein, fat, and carbohydrates. You can find vitamin B6 in whole-grain cereals, beans and bananas. During pregnancy you need 1.9 mg daily.
A popular Indian dish that is rich in Vitamin B6: Black Chickpeas Toss
- Cook soaked black chickpeas in a cooker. 4 whistles should be good enough.
- Heat butter in a pan, add green chilli paste, chopped onions and sauté.
- Add tomatoes, chilli powder, garam masala and chaat masala, mix well and sauté for 2 more minutes.
- Add potatoes, chana, salt, raw mangoes, coriander and lemon juice. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Super healthy chaat is ready.
Vitamin B12 requirement during pregnancy
Helps form red blood cells and maintains your nervous system. You can find this vitamin only in animal products. Good sources include paneer, mushroom, fish, poultry, and milk. During pregnancy you need 2.6 micrograms daily.
A popular Indian dish that is rich in Vitamin B12: Paalak Raita
- Take fresh homemade curd in a deep bow and whisk well.
- Add shredded spinach (paalak), finely chopped onions, finely chopped tomatoes, black salt to the curd and mix well.
Folate (Folic Acid) requirement during pregnancy
A B vitamin important in the production of blood and protein, it also reduces the risk of neural tube defects (a birth defect of the brain and spinal cord). You can find folate in green, leafy vegetables, liver, orange juice, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), and nuts.
A popular Indian dish that is rich in Folate: Cow peas saag
- Cook soaked cowpeas (chawli or chaulaai) for 2 whistles in a pressure cooker.
- Heat oil , add cumin seeds , asafoetida , cooked cowpeas, turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander cumin seeds powder, salt and mix well .
- Cook for 4-5 minutes. Add tamarind pulp and jaggery, mix well and cook for 2 minutes more. The recipe is ready.
You must get at least 400 micrograms of folate daily before pregnancy and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. During pregnancy, doctors recommend you get 600 micrograms daily.
Ayurveda Tips for Pregnancy Diet
Ayurveda strongly recommends a diet based on fresh green vegetables, fruits and freshly cooked dishes. Ideally, highly spicy and oily food should be avoided for maintaining a balanced metabolism.
Here are 5 nutrition tips for pregnancy as per Ayurveda:
- A balanced diet as per Ayurveda is the one which consist of shad rasa (six tastes) and termed as Shad rasatmak Aahar - Madhra (sweet), Amla (sour), Lavana (salty), Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent).
- Avoid eating curd after sunset as it might upset the digestion and increase kapha dosha in the body as evening time is kapha kaal
- Always drink buttermilk after lunch. This helps to light digestive fire and ease digestion.
- Vegetables from the Gourd family like bottle gourd, ivy gourd, bitter gourd, ridge gourd , pumpkin are recommended for pregnancy diets as these are light to digest, cool on the body, reduce acidity and are nutrient dense.
- Ghee and home-made white butter are the healthiest fats and play a vital role in the brain development of the foetus as per Ayurveda.