Nutrition In Pregnancy During COVID-19 Pandemic
1. At present there is no evidence that pregnant women are at a higher risk of COVID-19 compared to the general population, thus, pregnant women must take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other people and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty in breathing) to their healthcare provider.
2. Nutrition recommendations for pregnant women remain unchanged, even during COVID-19.
-Eat atleast three main meals, with one nutritious snack (in first trimester) and two nutritious snacks in the second and third trimester.
-Each meal must comprise one item from energy giving foods (cereals, fats and sugar), body building (pulses and legumes, nuts, milk and milk products, eggs, meat, fish and poultry) and protective foods (vegetables and fruits).
-Continue daily dose of micronutrient supplements (iron and calcium)
-Check status and seek appropriate advice for low/high gestational weight gain and severe anemia during antenatal visit.
-Stay hydrated (Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water or fluids per day).
-Take rest for 2 hours in the day and sleep for 8 hours at night.
-Do atleast 20-25 minutes of physical activity every day.
-Intake of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and other addictive substances should be restricted. They are harmful for the baby and also negatively influence immunity.
3. Most important precaution is to exercise here, in addition to respiratory hygiene; maintaining hygiene while purchasing, cooking and storing food by self and food handlers at home.
4. You can continue to eat non-vegetarian food and egg. It does not increase risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection. Precaution to be exercised is to ensure non-vegetarian food is thoroughly cooked.
5. No food can be designated as a super food to prevent or cure CoVID in pregnancy. Although several foods rich in antioxidant nutrients (Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin A), Iron, Protein, Zinc and Selenium and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids boost immunity. These include:
1) Dark green leafy vegetables amaranth leaves, fenugreek leaves spinach etc.
2) Vitamin C rich foods lemon, amaranth leaves, orange, melon, gooseberries, etc.
3) Yellow-orange fruits &vegetables carrot, papaya, mango, etc.
4) Nuts almonds, walnuts, coconut (dry), gingelly seeds, safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, Niger seeds, mustard seeds etc.)
5) Millets bajra, ragi, jowar etc.
6) Whole pulses and legumes bengal gram (whole), horse gram (whole), green gram (whole), rajma, soyabean etc.
7) Egg & Non-Veg Meats, chicken, fish and egg
8) Milk and milk products curd, paneer
9) Omega 3& 6 fatty acids rich oil safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil etc.
10) Herbs, spices and condiments garlic, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, cloves, basil/Tulsi
6. Pregnancy itself is a stage of psychological and physiological stress. Fear and anxiety due to COVID-19 outbreak coupled with the body’s state, can become overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Additionally, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and Docosa hexanoic acid (DHA) a fatty acid are vital for foetal brain development, optimal levels of neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) - which play a role in mood, anxiety and sleep, energy levels and appetite.
Hence, ensuring that pregnant woman eats foods rich in these nutrients is vital.
1) omega-3 fatty acid: fish or marine sources, flaxseeds, walnuts
2) folic acid: fish, rajma, soyabean, spinach, field beans, mustard leaves, beetroot and mango ripe.
3) vitamin B12: milk, egg, chicken, salmon.
4) vitamin B6: Rohu fish, sunflower seeds, drumstick leaves, walnut, black gram whole, banana, lentil whole, french beans.
5) While at present, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it may be possible that people can become infected by touching a surface or object contaminated by the virus and then touching their face. Maintain extra precautions for food hygiene while purchasing, cooking and storing food by self and food handlers at home
6) Be alert for danger signs of CoVID or any obstetric emergency and seek care.
For any COVID-19 related queries, call your State Helpline/Ministry of Health & Family Welfare’s 24X7 helpline at 1075 or 011-23978046.
(courtesy: Lady Irwin College/Unicef)