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Eating Basics
     Dietary Allowances
Weight Gain
Diet and Lactation




Recommended Dietary Allowances with Sources:

           Non pregnant Pregnant Lactation (0 – 6 months) Lactation (6 – 12 months)
Net  Calories 22 - 25 Calories + 300 Calories + 550 Calories + 400 Calories
Protein 50 g/d 50 + 15 g/d + 25 g/d + 18 g/d
Fats 20 g/d 30 g/d 45 g/d 45 g/d
Ca 400 mg/d 1000 mg/d 1000 mg/d 1000mg/d
Iron 30 mg/d 38 mg/d 30 mg/d 30 mg/d
Vitamin A (Retinol) 600 IU 600 IU 950 IU 950 IU
Vitamin A (Beta-carotene) 2400 IU 2400 IU 3800 IU 3800 IU
Thiamine 1.1 mg/d + 0.2 mg/d + 0.3 mg/d + 0.2 mg/d
Riboflavin 1.3 mg/d + 0.2 mg/d + 0.3 mg/d + 0.2 mg/d
Nicotinic Acid 14 mg/d + 2 mg/d + 4 mg/d + 3 mg/d
Pyridoxine 2 mg/d 25 mg/d 25 mg/d 25 mg/d
Vitamin C 40 mg/d 40 mg/d 80 mg/d 80 mg/d
Folic Acid 100 mg/d 400 mg/d 150 mg/d 150 mg/d
Vitamin B 12 1 mg/d 1 mg/d 1.5 mg/d 1.5 mg/d
Vitamin D 5 mg
(100 IU)
10 mg
(400 IU)
10 mg
(400 IU)
10 mg
(400 IU)


Caloric Requirements: An average woman requires roughly about 1500-2000 Calories per day and needs additional Calories to meet the increased needs during pregnancy. In the second and third trimester an additional 300 Calories per day is recommended. 

300 Calories is approximately the amount in each of the following:

  • 3 bananas

  • 3 apples

  •  Two 8 oz. Glasses of whole milk

These calories can be derived from:

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The 20% of the total Caloric requirement should come from protein .The pregnant body requires additional proteins for both the mother and baby. The requirement for pregnant women has been calculated to be an additional.


  • grams/per day in the first trimester

  • grams/per day in the second trimester

  • grams/per day in the third trimester

The additional protein meets the needs for the developing baby, the placenta, the mother’s blood volume increase, breast development and protein storage.
10 grams of protein is the amount found in each of the following:

  • One and a half eggs.

  • 3-4 slices of bread.

  • One and a half ounces of cheese.

  • A chicken leg.

  • 2 baked potatoes with the skin.

  •  10 ounces of whole milk.

  • 2 ounces of mixed, dry roasted nuts.

Sources rich in protein:Egg, Milk, Meat, Cheese, Pulses, Cereals, Beans, Nuts.


Carbohydrates (sugars, starches & cellulose) are the primary sourcescarbohydrates of energy for the human body. Together, the sugars and starches provide 40-50% of the body’s energy requirements. Cellulose (fiber) is the indigestible component of carbohydrate without any nutritive value. It helps in preventing constipation by adding bulk to the food.70% of the total Caloric requirements should come from carbohydrates as it provides energy for day to day activities.

Sources -Vegetables, legumes, whole grams and fruits provide carbohydrates

Pregnancy does not appear to be the time to go on a low fat diet. Some fat in the diet is absolutely necessary.15-20% of total Caloric requirement should come from fat.Fats are essential for the intestinal absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. And, like proteins, there are essential fatty acids (that is, fatty acids which the body cannot produce) which need to be consumed in the diet.Two of these essential fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic acid, are necessary for the baby’s brain growth. Normal fat required in an average female is 20 grams per day which increases to 30-gram per day in pregnancy.Rich sources of linoleic and linolenic acid are safflower oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil.

Vitamins and Minerals:
In addition to proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber, the body needs small amount of other nutrients – Vitamins and Minerals. Almost all the vitamins and minerals a pregnant woman needs are supplied in a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, dairy products and meats.  

The different types of vitamins, their requirements during pregnancy and their sources are as under: 


Daily requirements  


Vit. A  800mcg  Dairy product, fish liver oils, margarine, carrots, and apricots green leafy vegetables, yellow fruits.  
Vit D  400 IU  Fish liver oils, margarine, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, liver.
Vit E  15 IU  Apples, carrots, cherries, olive oil, eggs, sunflower seeds. 
Vit B Group-B1,B2,B3,B6,B12 and Folic acid 

Vit B1-1.5 mg  
VitB2- 1.6 mg
Vit B3- 17 mg  
Vit B6- 2.2 mg  
 Vit B12- 2.2mcg 

folic acid-400mcg

Green leafy vegetables, whole wheat products., liver, kidney and brewer yeast 
Vit C  70 mg  Citrus foods, berry fruits, green vegetables, salads, peppers, tomatoes, potato.  

Folic Acid:
Folic acid is a part of B-Complex group of Vitamins that is essential in pregnancy because it is highly instrumental in forming the neural tube, which becomes the brain and the spinal cord in the growing foetus. The neural tube formation starts in the early pregnancy. Any deficiency of folic acid in the pre-pregnant state can lead to Neural Tube Defects (NTD’s).

Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) include: 

Folic acid-brain food

  • Spina bifida: An opening in the spine thus exposing the spinal cord.

  • Anencephaly: An opening in the base of the brain thus restricting the growth of the brain

 It is strongly recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 40 to 90 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day. Pregnant women are advised to increase their daily intake of folic acid to 400 mcg.   

Sources - It can be found in liver, green beans, asparagus, whole grains, lentils, nuts, oranges, leafy vegetables, egg and milk.    

Vitamin D and Calcium:
Calcium is an integral component of the human skeleton.Calcium is required for the formation of bones and teeth. Bone formation starts in the third trimester. Most of the calcium requirement is limited to the third trimester of pregnancy. The calcium requirement during pregnancy is 1000 mg/day, an increase of 50% over the requirement for non-pregnant women. As calcium is required for bone formation, adequate calcium intake is especially critical for pregnant women under 25 years of age whose bone development is not complete. 
Sources- Consuming four glasses of milk/ four servings of cheese/ yogurt/ cottage cheese (paneer)/ fortified soymilk along with other components of a healthy diet should meet your needs for calcium in pregnancy.  If you are allergic to dairy products, then you can get enough calcium from the supplementation of calcium.  However, vitamin D is only found in milk and not in other dairy products, you may have to get at least some of your vitamin D from exposing your skin to sunshine or from a supplement. 

Iron is essential for building healthy red blood cells, which are theiron basic building blocks in the blood. Red blood cells contains an essential protein known as haemoglobin which is necessary for carrying oxygen to the different organs in the body including the uterus or womb.  Many women in the reproductive age group have increased bleeding during menses and inadequate intake of Iron. This leads to iron deficiency in the body more commonly referred to as ‘Iron deficiency anaemia. Starting a pregnancy with anaemia can deprive the baby of oxygen which gets more marked during the second trimester. Unless this deficiency is corrected it may leave the mothers severely anaemic and any blood loss during pregnancy and after delivery may be dangerous to the mother and the baby. Therefore you should take iron supplements besides eating food that is rich in iron. Supplements of iron are available in form of capsules/tablets (combined with other vitamins). These are to be taken once daily.     Food rich in Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron is also useful. 
Sources -Liver, meat, green leafy vegetables [such as spinach (palak), fenugreek (methi), leaves, legumes, nuts, jaggery and dried fruits are rich in Iron. 

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A low pregnancy weight gain often results in a low birth-weight infants who may experience delayed development and are prone to various diseases.  In addition to the growth of the foetus associated with maternal weight gain, pregnant women store fat to prepare the mother for lactation. Development of fat stores is so critical that maternal body weight may be protected even at the expense of foetal growth. Therefore it is particularly important to monitor the weight gain of underweight women who plan to breastfeed.An additional 25 – 35 pounds (11 – 16 kg) is considered desirable for both the mother and infant.However there are exceptions to the general recommendations, since goals for weight gain should be based on pregnancy weight and height.  Match your height to your pre-pregnancy weight (in pounds) to deterine which category you fit into

Height Underweight Normal  Overweight  Obese
5’less than   102 102 – 132 133 – 147   148+
5’2”less than 107 107 – 141 142 – 157   158+ 
5’4” less than  116  116 – 152 153 – 170   171+ 
5’6”less than  123  123 – 161 162 – 180 181+ 
5’8”less than  130  130 – 171 172 – 191   192+
5’10”less than 138  138 – 181 182 – 202   203+

Depending upon which category you fit in to. Your weight gain in pregnancy (in pounds) should be as:

Underweight  Normal  Overweight  Obese 
28 - 40  25 - 35  15 – 25   15 

Another method to know the recommended total weight gain in pregnancy is by Pre Pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI).Body mass Index, or BMI, is an indicator of nutritional status based on two common measurements, height and weight. Because it reflects body composition such as body fat and lean body mass, BMI is considered a more accurate indicator than height/weight tables. 

BMI is calculated using the following formula:     weight  


                                                                          Square of height 

    Recommended Total Weight Gain for pregnant women by pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) 

Weight for height category  Recommended total weight gain   (kilograms)  Recommended total weight gain (pounds) Rate of gain in weight (kilograms /per week) 
Low (BMI 19.8) 12.5 – 18.0 28 – 40 ½ kg / (>1 pound)per week 
Normal (BMI 19.8 to 26.0)  11.5 – 16.0   25 – 35 4 kg/ (1 pounds)per week 
High (BMI 26.0 to 29.0)  7.0 – 11.5   15 – 25  

1/3 kg / (1/2  to¾  pounds)per week 

Obese (BMI 29.0) 6.0  15 

BMI is calculated using the following formula:          weight  
                                                                              Square of height 

E.g.: If your weight is 50 kg and your height in metres is 1.5 metres, then 

BMI =      50
             --------   = 22.22

Weight gain in pregnancy should be 11.5 - 16 kgs.


     Diet In Lactation
The balance diet, which you were taking during your pregnancy, should continue during breast feeding also. Some extra Calories are required for your body as the baby is taking the Calories through milk and because of  the additional work you are doing while taking care of your baby.If your diet is inadequate for your body demands of Calories, protein, and carbohydrate, then you may feel lethargic or tired.

Allowance is as follows:
During third trimester of your pregnancy you have already started taking 200 – 300 additional Calories per day.        But during breast-feeding you have to add 200 – 300 Calories more to that diet so as to satisfy your baby’s need with out tiring you.
During breast feeding you should have about 2000 – 3000 Calories intake per day.You should take increased amount of Proteins, Vitamins, Calcium and Iron. Lactation and RDA Chart

Foods to be avoided: 

  • If you have strong family history of allergies to some food stuff and if your baby develops allergic reaction then avoid that food in your diet. But remember to replace the same by other items.  

  • Alcohol should be avoided or if you want to take then take it in a limited quantity. Alcohol interferes with your let-down reflex.

  •   Smoking / passive smoking should also be avoided as excessive amount of nicotine also interferes with your let down reflex.

Lactation Lactation 
(0 – 6 months)  ( 6 – 12 months)
Net Calories   + 550 C  400 C
Protein   + 25 g/d  + 18 g/d 
Fat  45 g/d  45 g/d 
Ca  1000 mg/d  1000 mg/d
Iron  30 mg/d  30 mg/d
Vitamin A (Retinol)  950 IU  950 IU 
Vitamin A (Beta-carotene) 3800 IU 3800 IU 
Thiamine  + 0.3 mg/d  + 0.2 mg/d 
Riboflavin  + 03 mg/d  + 0.2 mg/d 
Nicotinic Acid + 4 mg/d  + 3 mg/d 
Pyridoxine  2.5 mg/d  2.5 mg/d 
Vitamin C  80 mg/d  80 mg/d 
Folic Acid 150 mg/d 150 mg/d 
Vitamin B 12   1.5 mg/d  1.5 mg/d 
Vitamin D 10 mg  100 mg   
(400 IU) (400 IU)

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Recommended:  book
"The new parent"
by author Martha



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