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Pregnancy Diet

First-time mum-to-be K asked me the other day: “Doc, my mum tells me to drink plenty of fresh coconut water in the last trimester so that I will have an easy birth. “My friends also tell me that it will help cleanse my baby’s skin. Is this true?”

            This is just one among many of common nutritional myths and advice dished out to expectant mothers by well-meaning friends and relatives who know that a healthy diet is important for foetal growth.

            Pregnant women are, after all, motivated to improve their nutrition and they want to do things right for their developing babies. They want to know which foods they should eat or avoid.

            A common misconception is: “I can eat what I want when I’m expecting; I don’t have to worry about my diet. I should eat for two.”

            In fact, most pregnant women require only an extra 300 calories per day, equivalent to two glasses of milk or four slices of bread, or four pieces of fruit and seven wholemeal biscuits.

            A nutritious, well-balanced eating plan should be adopted.

            Recommended daily serving include five to seven servings of carbohydrates (about three bowls of rice or noodles). This provides energy for vital body functions.

            Two servings of fruit (two small apples, oranges or pears) and two servings (two cups) of vegetables. They provide vitamins (especially folic acid and vitamin C) and minerals (iron) for the baby.

            Folic acid plays a key role in reducing foetal abnormalities especially of the nervous system. Iron helps increase the mother’s blood volume and hemoglobin (pigment that carries oxygen in the red blood cell) and prevent anaemia.