Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps the body make healthy new cells
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Folic acid: Why you need it before and during pregnancy
Folic acid is the synthetic form of the Vitamin B9 and is critical to the proper development of your baby. Why do you need folic acid? Folic acid helps to prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTDs). The neural tube is the part of the embryo from which your baby's spine and brain will develop. NTDs include serious birth defects of the spinal cord (such as spina bifida) and the brain (such as anencephaly). Folic acid may help lower your baby's risk of cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain types of heart issues. It may also reduce the mother’s risk of preeclampsia which affects 5 per cent of pregnant women. Folic acid is needed by the body to make red blood cells and prevent a type of anaemia. It's also essential for the production, repair, and functioning of DNA, and our genetic map. When and how much folic acid should you consume? It is recommended that you start consuming Folic acid regularly a month before you even start trying to conceive a child and should definitely continue through the entire first trimester. The reason is that Neural Tube Defects happen very early on, sometimes even before you know you’re pregnant. That’s why it’s desirable to consume folic acid before conception. Research shows that women who have the daily recommended dose of folic acid a month before conception and through the first trimester reduce the chances of NTDs by as much as 70%. The minimum recommended dose of folic acid is 400 micrograms(mcg) every day starting a month before you start trying to conceive. Some experts recommend that the dosage is increased to 600mcg after you’re pregnant. The dosage should not be more than 1000mcg in any case unless it’s as per your doctor’s advice. When can you need extra folic acid? You may need an added supplement of folic acid in the following circumstances. The doctor may recommend a higher dose if you’re expecting twins. If you’re obese your chance of having a baby with a NTD increases significantly so you may have to get a higher dose. You may also need higher dose if you’ve had a baby with a NTD in the past. You may have an MTHFR mutation which makes it harder for you to process folic acid in which case you will need a higher dose. Diabetic women and women taking anti-seizure medication are at higher risk and may need more folic acid. Can’t I get folic acid from natural foods? Strangely enough, the body finds it harder to process folate occurring naturally in food sources than it does synthetic folic acid. That’s why before and during pregnancy, having the daily recommended dose of folic acid is a must. Food sources rich in folate include lentils(daal), avocado, dried beans, peas, and nuts, dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, collard or turnip greens, okra(lady’s finger), Brussels sprouts, and asparagus, citrus fruit and juice. These foods can only be a supplement to and not a substitute for folic acid tablets.
Why Linea Nigra line occurs on your belly during pregnancy?
Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in the body. From beautiful, shiny hair to swollen ankles, nearly every part of your body is affected. And in the midst of all these changes, when you are about five months pregnant, you might notice a dark line running down your belly. This is called the linea nigra and is a normal part of pregnancy. Though it seems to appear out of nowhere, one cannot prevent it from appearing and it disappears after the delivery. Here is all that you would want to know about the linea nigra. What exactly is the linea nigra? The linea nigra or the pregnancy line is a dark line that appears in the fifth month of your pregnancy. The line starts from the pelvis and extends till the top of the uterus. Dark brown in color, the linea nigra is ½ to 1/4th inch wide and darkens as the pregnancy progresses. It is more visible in women with darker skin. What causes the linea nigra to appear? The line that seems to have appeared from nowhere has actually always been there but is too light to be noticed. At this stage, it is called the linea alba. But, when you become pregnant, and your body starts producing a larger amount of melanin, which darkens the skin. This makes the linea alba darker and thus visible. Is the linea nigra harmful? No. the linea nigra is not harmful at all and does not need any kind of medical treatment. Can I prevent the linea nigra from appearing? Not exactly. As mentioned earlier, nothing can be done to prevent the linea nigra from appearing. When will the linea nigra go? The linea nigra starts fading once the baby is delivered. It slowly fades away in a few months post-delivery but makes a reappearance in subsequent pregnancies. How can I make the linea nigra disappear? You cannot do anything to make the linea nigra disappear. However, you can make the line less pronounced by following certain tips. As the linea nigra is a result of pigmentation, take steps to protect your skin against it. Pigmentation during pregnancy is linked with the deficiency of folic acid. Therefore, ensure that you are eating a healthy diet that contains a healthy proportion of folates from green leafy vegetables. Additionally, apply sunscreen every time you expose your belly to the sun as sunlight can increase pigmentation, making the line more prominent. If the linea nigra really bothers you, you can either use makeup to cover it up during your pregnancy or after it. You can also use a bleaching agent to help it fade away faster. However, do not use a bleaching agent during your pregnancy or breastfeeding period as it may harm the baby. Also, always remember to consult your doctor, before using any skin creams during your pregnancy. Featured Image Source
Nutrition During First Trimester of Pregnancy
Congratulations! We are joyful to know that you have recently conceived and are all set to ensure that you have a safe and healthy pregnancy. As soon as you get to know that you are pregnant, a mix of thoughts are what you start playing with all day long. Excitement, worries, enthusiasm, fear all come in together. Excitement about the future, worry about how everything will turn out to be, enthusiasm to be mommy and fear of the unknown. All these feelings are normal and must be embraced positively since these are the pillars which guide you throughout your pregnancy if acted upon in the right manner. One of the biggest dilemmas of pregnancy is what to eat, how much to eat, what to avoid, why to avoid, how to control and so on. Don’t worry, we are here to guide you and make things simpler for you so that you can completely focus on enjoying your smooth pregnancy ride. Let us take it one by one. In this section, we will talk about what you should eat and how during the first trimester of pregnancy. First trimester of pregnancy covers your pregnancy right from the time you conceive up to the end of week 12. It’s an important trimester in terms of your baby’s development – organs take shape, your baby starts moving and muscles form. Baby enters the second trimester as a fully formed fetus who is a size of a peach. This little peach requires all the quality nutrients that make it what it is by week 12. In fact, there is no recommendation for extra calorie intake during your first trimester. But certain nutrients are needed more than others, and these include: Folate (or Folic Acid), Iron, Zinc, Iodine, and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) - a type of omega-3 fatty acid (healthy fat). Folic acid is one of the most crucial of all nutrients and is required in recommended quantity daily for the baby to develop a strong brain and spine. Deficiency of folic acid at this stage often leads to congenital disorders in babies like spina bifida. Most cases of neural tube defects can be prevented if you eat enough folate before and during your early pregnancy. Do not worry if you have already passed 2-8 weeks of your pregnancy before getting to know that you are pregnant since most women get to know about their healthy pregnancy at this stage itself. Your doctor must have or will put you on 400 mcg of folic acid supplement soon. Most women need 400 mcg of folic acid every day, as well as eating foods that are rich in folic acid. Some women who have an increased risk of having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect are advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams of folic acid per day during the first trimester. Women have an increased risk if: they have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect they have diabetes they or their partner have a neural tube defect they or their partner have a family history of neural tube defects Also, women on anti-epileptic drugs should consult their doctor for advice on folic acid supplement intake because they may also need to take a higher dose of folic acid during first trimester of their pregnancy. If you have any of the above-mentioned conditions, tell your doctor immediately so they can prescribe a higher dose of folic acid. Folic acid is readily available to you in diet. Rich sources of folate include vegetables like spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage, lettuce, sweet corn etc, all citrus fruits especially orange, breakfast cereals like whole wheat bread, oats, nuts and eggs. Incorporate them in your diet on a regular basis to never fall short of folic acid in diet. Iron is a vital nutrient for every girl and women on this planet. India is a hub for iron deficiency anemia in the world reason being women in India give least preference to their own diet over others in the family. Irony is that they are the ones who cook food, feed all, conceive, give birth, lose blood during delivery, lose blood during periods and require to replenish their iron stores each day but they don’t! You may be one of those many women suffering from iron deficiency. Doctor gets all these relevant tests done as soon as s/he knows you are pregnant to ensure that any nutrient gap that needs to be bridged is bridged in time before it is too late. Your needs for iron increase as you enter second trimester to provide proper nutrients and oxygen to baby’s blood supply through yours. It is important for you to maintain good iron stores from the beginning as and when you know you are pregnant. Doctor usually starts iron supplements when you are starting with your second trimester since first trimester is already over loaded with anxiety, nausea and vomiting which can worsen with iron supplements. So, go natural on iron during first trimester. Egg yolk, mutton, green leafy vegetables like amaranth, cauliflower greens, colocasia leaves (arbi leaves) and garden cress seeds (halim/aliv), til seeds, bengal gram etc are some of the rich sources of iron. Make sure that while consuming vegetarian sources of iron, always take vitamin C (lemon juice, amla, orange juice etc) with them for better absorption of iron. Zinc during pregnancy is required for proper development of the placenta, keeps intra-uterine infections at bay, keeps your immune system strong, promotes proper growth of baby’s cells and boosts baby’s DNA production and functioning. Zinc can be made available to the body from sources like nuts and seeds- til seeds, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, mutton, curd, pulses and lentils like rajma and chana. Iodine is another essential nutrient that is required for proper brain development of the fetus. If you use iodized salt, you are not likely to develop iodine deficiency. If you use senda namak or rock salt, like in many traditional Indian families, you need to shift to iodized salt immediately. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. It is found in the cell membranes of neurons and it is involved in forming the chemicals that neurons in the brain use to send messages. And since a baby’s brain starts to form between 6 and 7 weeks of pregnancy, DHA is needed from the first trimester itself. DHA intake is crucial for this period to ensure adequate levels for you and your baby. Most pregnant women do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids because the major dietary source, seafood, is restricted to 2 servings a week. For you to gain enough omega-3 fatty acids, a variety of sources should be consumed: vegetable oils, 2 low-mercury fish servings a week, and supplements (fish oil or algae-based docosahexaenoic acid). Morning sickness and Vomiting are very common during first trimester of pregnancy and experiences may vary from one woman to another. Some may feel nauseated during morning hours and others may vomit throughout the day. You may be having a different experience altogether. Almost 70% women face nausea during pregnancy. It is important to stay hydrated during this time since vomiting may diminish your fluid stores. So, it is advisable to keep drinking water, fresh soups, coconut water, fruit juices throughout the day. Also, morning sickness can be relieved by taking rusk, crackers, roasted murmura, dry roasted makhana or other dry roasted cereals early in the morning. Content Source Featured image source
Baby Moon: What to expect from your second trimester
The second trimester offers a much-needed break from the tough first trimester, which is generally associated with periods of morning sickness, fatigue, and aversion to food. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the second trimester is also called the ‘babymoon’ phase. The second-trimester bids goodbye to the unpleasant symptoms you encountered in the first trimester. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief as the morning sickness fades away. This also means you’ll be back to consuming nutritious meals that will help nourish your baby in the weeks to come. While there’s an upside to the second trimester, there’s a downside too, although it’s much less pronounced than the effects you see in the first trimester. During this stage, you’re prone to anemia, bleeding gums, and swelling. While you may instantaneously want to ask your doctor for healing in a pill; trust us, at this stage food, should be your primary medicine. While supplements like folic acid, calcium, and iron are essential, you should rely on them only as complementary additions, to battle deficiencies. It’s not just your baby growing and making space for himself, your body is adjusting just as efficiently to accommodate the little one. Here’s what happens — As your uterus expands, the lungs get compressed, which often leaves you short of breath at times The uterine ligaments stretch to make space, thus leading to low-intensity abdominal aches, cramps, and back pain Pigmentation may occur at the mid-line of the tummy; stretch marks too are not uncommon around the thighs, buttocks, and stomach. In some cases, women may suffer from melasma (skin discolouration), which is not a serious cause for concern as it usually subsides after delivery. During this trimester, there are chances of developing increased blood pressure, gestational diabetes, or thyroid level fluctuations. Therefore, it’s important that you consult your doctor frequently to monitor your health and prevent further complications. Reaching the ideal weight during your pregnancy is important. Seeking a doctor’s guidance will make things easier. Generally, if you have a normal Body Mass Index (BMI), you would be recommended a consistent weight gain of 2 kilos every month. However, if you are overweight, you would be required to consistently increase only 1 kilo monthly. Content Source
Tips to make an effective pregnancy diet plan
Having a little soul in you is a feeling of magnificence that brings along so much of joy and love to your life. But with all this comes greater responsibility that starts as soon as you become pregnant. We know you are exactly in this phase of your life and as a loyal partner, we promise to support you under take all your responsibilities precisely and effectively. With the same note, let us help you on how to prepare a healthy diet plan for your pregnancy since nutrition for you and your baby will go a long way in keeping you both healthy. Though advising an accurate dietary plan is the responsibility of your health care providers, but the tips that we are providing will only compliment to whatever you are told by your dietician and make your life easier. Diet for pregnancy is not different from a normal healthy daily diet except for increased macro and micro nutrient requirement and restricting certain food items that may cause harm to your baby. Before moving further, here are some highlights to help you get a brief picture of nutrition in pregnancy: Key Highlights: Protein requirement during pregnancy goes up from the second trimester onwards to take care of the growing needs of your pregnancy tissues and your baby’s growth and development Folic acid is very essential during the initial months of pregnancy to avoid neural tube defects Iron is important for carrying oxygen to you and your baby’s blood supply Calcium and vitamin D requirement are high during pregnancy for development of the baby’s skeleton It is essential to take omega-3 fatty acid- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for proper cell and brain development of the baby Items to avoid- Alcohol, tobacco, unripe papaya (may induce contractions), sea food (contains harmful mercury), raw or undercooked meat and eggs, unpasteurized milk and milk products, unwashed fruits and vegetables and soft cheese (may lead to bacterial infections) Fluids should be consumed in plenty Nutrients that are a definite during pregnancy: Proteins: Insufficient protein intake can lead to malnourishment or low-birth weight baby. Proteins provide the building blocks for bones, organs, muscles, tissues and blood of the baby. An additional 0.5 g per kg body weight protein is required during the first trimester, 6.9 g during the second trimester and 22.7 g during the third trimester. Food items that are rich in protein are milk (200 ml contains 7 g protein) and milk products- paneer (30 g contains 5.6 g protein), egg (1 contains 13.28 g protein), meat, chicken (100 g contains 19 g protein), fish (fresh water), beans and legumes, dal (1 bowl contains 7 g protein). Folic acid: Folic acid very important for avoiding spinal and brain related abnormalities. The recommended daily allowance of folic acid is 400 mcg. Foods rich in folic acid include broccoli, spinach (100 g contains 142 mcg folic acid), breakfast cereals, mango (100 g contains 90 mcg folic acid) beans, chicken liver (100 g contains 1032 mcg folic acid), egg etc. Calcium: Calcium is required to build strong bones of the baby. It will save you from osteoporosis too in future. Per day calcium requirement for you is 1200 mg. Sources of calcium include milk (100 ml contains 180 mg calcium) and milk products, amaranth leave (100 g contains 330 mg calcium), fenugreek leaves (100 g contains 274 mg calcium), ragi (30 g contains 109 mg calcium), bony fish (100 g contains 320-650 mg calcium), chicken, banana etc. It is important to note here that milk is one of the best sources of calcium keeping in mind that it provides biologically available calcium. Iron: Iron is required in increased amounts during pregnancy to meet up the needs of growing fetus. Your per day iron need currently is 35 mg/dl. Iron rich food items are kala chana (1 bowl contains 2.6 mg iron), methi leaves (100 g contain 5.7 mg iron), tamarind pulp (100 g contains 9 mg iron), soya bean (1 bowl contains 2.5 mg iron) etc. Plate method to design a main meal: Your plate should consist of 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% whole grains and 25% proteins. Other points to consider are having plenty of fluids, consumption of 3-4 servings of dairy products, consumption of 4 tsp oil (use combination of oils instead of just one oil) and 2-3 healthy snacks in between main meals. Make your own diet plan: Pregnancy diet plans are prepared by taking into consideration your height and weight at various stages of pregnancy. For instance, during first trimester no additional calories are required, if woman is normal weight, during second and third trimester, an additional 300-350 kcal are required and in case woman is underweight, an additional 500 kcal are required. Here’s a sample diet plan for a healthy pregnant lady. Sample plan of 2000 Kcal which includes additional 350 Kcal for second and third trimester Early morning 4-5 Almonds with skin Breakfast 2 medium bowl dalia or poha with lots of vegetables or 2 slice whole wheat bread toast with 1 egg or 2 medium size besan or ragi oats cheela + 1 glass milk or butter milk Mid-morning 1 Fruit + 1 glass coconut water or vegetable juice + 50 g 50 g paneer Lunch 1 plate salad + 1 medium bowl dal or chicken + 1 big bowl vegetable + 1 bowl vegetable raita + 2 bran rich roti or 2 small bowl Brown rice Evening snack 150 ml milk + ½ bowl roasted chana or 1 boiled egg or 1 bowl roasted chana murmura salad or 1 moong Cheela with vegetables Late Evening 1 Fruit Dinner 1 plate salad + 1 bowl green leafy vegetable + 1 bowl dal or curd + 2 mix flour roti Bed time 1 cup milk (150 ml) This is how your day’s diet should look like. You may keep changing the pulses, vegetables and fruits you eat daily. Try to consume organic foods to minimize consumption of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. In case you have gestational diabetes, meet your endocrinologist to get your diet managed. In gestational diabetes, incase you are on insulin, do not skip your meals since that can lead to low blood sugars which are dangerous and break your breakfast into two parts to control blood sugar levels well. In normal pregnancy also, skipping a meal is not advisable. If you don’t feel like eating, drink something but try not skip meals. Feature Image Source