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Nutrition in pregnancy refers to the nutrient intake, and dietary planning that is undertaken before, during and after pregnancy. Nutrition of the fetus begins at conception. For this reason, the nutrition of the mother is important from before conception(probably several months before) as well as throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding


An ever-increasing number of studies have shown that the nutrition of the mother will have an effect on the child, upto and including the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertention and diabetes throughout life

Causes of Poor Nutrition

  • + Lack of information regarding the unbalanced diet
  • + Stereotype menu - same Quality of food day after day
  • + Eating wrong type of food, what is known as junk food aerated cold drinks, white flour preparations, sweet and sugar coated food items. Such kind of food is habit forming and will eventually kill the appetite.
  • + In early months of pregnancy women develop anemia due to vomiting which causes loss of Nutritional products

Chronic deficiency of hemoglobin leads to poor vitality and fatigue…

Essential ingredients required in preventing anemia are

  • + Iron
  • + Folic acid
  • + Vitamin B12
  • + Vitamin C
  • + Trace Elements –Zinc, Chromium, Selenium

The modern diet is deficient in folic acid because it is destroyed in cooking. Therefore fresh green raw vegetables will be desirable -
e.g. – lettuce and sprouted beans. In addition folic acid supplementation is also necessary.
Vitamin B12 is found in non-vegetarian diet. Lot of people in India are vegetarians, hence require supplementation
Vitamin C promotes iron absorption. Citrus fruits and amla are good sources. Unpeeled potatoes are good sources.
This cause of maternal mortality and morbidity can be easily prevented by proper nutrition and supplementation. Aim is to have every woman with hemoglobin 12g%.
Importance of Iron
WHO lists iron deficiency as the major cause of Anemia? Anemia is the direct cause of 3-7% of maternal deaths.

Incidence –According to WHO

  • + 40% Of World’s population suffers from anemia.
  • + Pregnant and elderly constitute 50%
  • + Non pregnant women constitute 35%
  • + 35% of women worldwide suffer from nutritional anemia and upto 80% of these are in southeast Asia
  • + Incidence in India is about 40-60%
  • + IMCR reports Indian incidence as 62%

At birth the hemoglobin level and iron stores depend on the nutrient inputs from mother. A normal weight full term baby to a healthy mother manages enough iron from its stores and breast milk. This stored iron is exhausted in 6 months. Infants and children who didn’t obtain adequate iron will suffer cognitive impairment that will affect the ability to learn and perform income earning tasks later in life. Anemic children are apathetic and anorexic, don’t have energy to play and have trouble leering.

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