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During pregnancy, it is important for a woman to go to antenatal care visits to screen for potential complications and treat problems as they arise during pregnancy. In addition, healthy nutrition, rest, and good hygiene is important during pregnancy.

Nutrition during pregnancy
The following is important points to know regarding nutrition during pregnancy. 

  • Adequate weight gain during pregnancy is important:
    - The total weight gain during pregnancy is ~ 11-16 kg
    - Normal weight gain during the first months of pregnancy is about 1-1.5 kg

    Note: A pregnant woman needs more energy for the growing fetus - see image below! 
    - First trimester: a woman should eat 3 meals a day plus one extra healthy snack
    - Second trimester: a woman should eat 3 meals a day plus two extra healthy snacks
    - Third trimester: a woman should eat 3 meals plus 3 extra healthy snacks or a small meal (if possible) 


  • Eating healthy and staying physically active during pregnancy is important for the development of the baby’s brain and organs:
    - A healthy diet consists of a variety of foods including green and orange vegetables, meat, fish, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fruit
    – Use oil, butter, margarine, or ghee to improve the absorption of vitamins and to provide extra energy

    - Drink several glasses of water each day: 2 liters of water/liquids every day
    - Use iodized salt during pregnancy to prevent iodine deficiency disorders which can result in stillbirth, learning disabilities, and poor growth of the baby

  • What to avoid during pregnancy (because it can harm the baby):
    - Drinking alcohol
    - Smoking
    - Eating raw fish and meat, and unpasteurized dairy (can cause bacterial infection)
    - High daily caffeine intake (maximum 300 mg per day) 
    - Avoid cooking with biofuel (such as wood, dung, plastic waste, and crop residues) in the home. If need to use biofuel, cook with it outside the house

What to eat during pregnancy?

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Video - weight gain during pregnancy

Video - what to eat during pregnancy

Important nutrients during pregnancy:

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Micronutrient supplementation

It is important for a woman to take micronutrients during pregnancy to make sure the baby will be born healthy.

A woman might have to take the following supplements during pregnancy:

  • Folic acid:
    - A woman should take this before getting pregnant and in the first trimester
    - Folic acid can help to prevent defects of the brain and spine at birth
    - Can give some side effect in the first days after starting (such as constipation)

  • Iron:
    - A woman should take this throughout pregnancy
    - Iron can help to prevent maternal anemia, a low-birth-weight of the baby, and preterm birth
    - Iron is important for the mother's strength, especially for delivery and to build up (micronutrient) reserves in the baby
    - Can give some side effect in the first days after starting (such as constipation)

  • Vitamin A:
    - This is only recommended for a pregnant woman in areas where vitamin A deficiency is a severe public health problem
    - Vitamin A helps to protect against infections and to prevent night blindness

  • Zinc

  • Calcium

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin d drops

  • Energy

  • Protein

Note: Vitamin C (from fruit, such as oranges, cantaloupe, and papaya) can help to absorb these micronutrients. Therefore, when taking micronutrient supplementation take them always with or after a meal or snack that contains vitamin C and with lots of water!



Video - folic acid

Video - iron

Video - vitamin A

Morning sickness

A pregnant woman can experience morning sickness during the first trimester, this is also a sign that the placenta is developing well. 

  • There are a few things a woman can do against morning sickness:
    Eat a small snack (such as crackers or toast, before getting out of bed)
    Eat small frequent meals
    Avoid sudden movements: get out of bed slowly
    Breathe fresh air
    Avoid food or smells that make you nauseous

Hygiene during pregnancy

Good hygiene is important, especially during pregnancy because it helps to prevent the woman from diarrhea and other illnesses.

  • Things that you can do to maintain good hygiene:
    Use clean utensils and store food in a clean place
    Cook meat, fish, and eggs until they are well done to avoid bacterial infection
    Wash vegetables in clean water, cook for a short time to preserve vitamins and eat immediately
    Always wash fruits and raw vegetables in clean water before eating
    Always wash hands in clean water before preparing food, after using the toilet





In case of concerns or difficulties during pregnancy, a woman should always see a health professional at the local health center and go for antenatal care visits!

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  1. Certa Nutritio. (2020, 1 April). GloCal Nutrition [Video]. YouTube.

  2. World Health Organization. (2012). Guideline: Daily iron and folic acid supplementation in pregnant women.

  3. World Health Organization. (2002). Personal, domestic, and community hygiene. In Healthy Villages - A Guide for Communities and Community Health Workers (p. 65). World Health Organization.

  4. World Health Organization. (2009). Hand Hygiene: Why, How & When?

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