Bigger may not be better in pregnancy, according to Dr Adrian Tan, a senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at ACJ Women's Clinic at Thomson Medical Centre. He helps bust the common myth that pregnant women should eat more, while sharing tips on how to improve your pregnancy diet.
Why you should watch your weight
“Some mothers are preoccupied with their weight gain and they have the misconception that they should eat voraciously for baby to grow,” said Dr Tan. “Truth is, if you put on too much weight, you tend to have a bigger baby. It is harder to deliver big babies and more difficult for the mother to lose the extra weight eventually.”
There has also been a rethink on the recommended weight gain. The Health Promotion Board recommends taking light snacks in between to gain the extra calories needed; most women gain an average of 10kg to 12kg during their pregnancy1.
The secret to a healthy pregnancy diet
A balanced diet that includes a wide variety of food from different groups, focusing on high nutrient foods and watching the total caloric intake, is recommended for pregnant women.
Added Dr Tan: “Women should concentrate on a high nutrient diet – more fresh fruits and vegetables without piling on empty calories: that is, less carbohydrates and fats.”
Folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy have been proven to be effective in preventing brain and spinal malformations in babies2 . The best sources for folic acid can also be found in fortified foods such as cereals and milk.
Some doctors may also advise pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to add multi-vitamins, calcium and DHA supplements to their diet.
Dr Tan explained: “There is merit in supplementing your diet with the recommended dosages of supplements. But a balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise and a renewed focus on positive family relationships, is still key to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.”
1Health Promotion Board of Singapore. Retrieved on August 28, 2015 from: http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/health-article/3826.
2WebMD. Retrieved on August 31, 2015 from: http://www.webmd.com/baby/folic-acid-and-pregnancy.