Pregnant woman doing gymnastic exercises, isolated on white background

Pregnant woman doing gymnastic exercises, isolated on white background | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The common question as obstetricians we face are : What to eat and what not to eat? Do we need to exercise and is it safe in pregnancy? There are a lot of myths circulating in the society about diet and exercise which are hard to break and these beliefs are becoming hazardous to pregnancy outcome.

The outcome of a pregnancy to a large extent depends on the initial health condition of the mother and her nutrition and life style in pregnancy. We are facing a lot of medical problems like hypertension, diabetes ,big baby and increased Caesarean sections due to obesity, sedentary lifestyle and lack of awareness about nutrition and exercise.

1. The first advise we commonly hear in pregnancy “ Eat for Two”- Does it hold good?

Evidence clearly suggests that pregnant women need not “Eat for two” during pregnancy because the body could adapt to absorb more energy from the same amount of food they eat. It is a myth that a pregnant women need extra calories for the first two thirds of pregnancy. It is only in the last 12 weeks and that too only extra 200 calories per day is required by the pregnant women.The concept of preaching “eat for two” in those days were because majority of the girls were not getting adequate nutrition in the previous decades which is not the case now.

2. What is a healthy diet in pregnancy?

A well balanced diet with carbohydrates contributing to 50-60%,fat 20-35% and 60 gm of protein a day is a healthy diet . Women should eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day rather than food that are high in fat and calories. Base your carbohydrate portion of meals on starchy foods and whole grains.Millets have low glycemic index and high fibre and will keep you satisfied for a longer period of time and avoid fluctuation in sugar levels.

3. Should we avoid fruits like papaya and pineapple ?

No need to avoid papaya in pregnancy. It does not cause miscarriage . The myth about papaya is because it is rich in Vitamin A which in high doses in first 3 months can be harmful to the baby. Eating 4-5 pieces of ripe papaya is not harmful and is in fact good for tackling constipation in pregnancy. Pineapple is rich in Vitamin C and fibre and is also healthy to eat.

4. What are the foods to avoid in pregnancy?

Pregnant women should avoid ripened uncooked soft cheese as it may be harmful. Avoid non-pasteurized milk, raw/ under cooked egg or meat. Liver contains high Vitamin A content and should be avoided in pregnancy. Certain fish like salmon,Mackerel should be avoided as it may have high mercury content . Nut and seafood allergy is common in pregnancy and hence it is advisable not to try new varieties which are not taken before in pregnancy.

5. Is it good to dink lot of fruit juices in pregnancy ?

Pure fruit juice is equal to only one portion of fruit . Moreover when fruits are made into juice the pulp which is the main fibre content is lost. Compared to drinking juice,eating fruits gives more satiety.

6. Is it safe to exercise in pregnancy?

Exercise in moderation is very essential in pregnancy unless there are medical conditions which prevents a pregnant mother from doing so.It avoids excess weight gain during pregnancy. It also reduces the incidence of Gestational diabetes and high blood pressure in pregnancy. It reduces stress levels and mood swings and provides better sleep. Exercise is not harmful to the mother or the baby and it does not increase the risk of preterm delivery. In fact bed rest in pregnancy is dangerous as it increases the risk of blood clot formation.

Dr Mathangi Rajagopalan

Dr Mathangi Rajagopalan | Photo Credit: Rainbow Hospitals



7. What kind of exercise can be done in pregnancy ?

Moderate physical activity of 150 minutes per week is at least recommended. Moderate activity is one which increases your breathing rate but still able to maintain a conversation. This can be divided into 30 minutes work outs of at least 5 days a week. Exercise that can be safely continued are walking , gardening, climbing stairs, yoga, swimming, treadmill, Zumba, going out for park or shopping by walk. It is important to maintain proper posture and balance during exercise. Be cautious to avoid injury to your bump. It is also important to wear proper clothes and maintain good hydration during exercise. Avoid excessive exposure to heat during exercise


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 4:23:48 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/brandhub/diet-and-exercise-in-pregnancy-bust-your-myths-and-know-your-facts/article65419048.ece