An expecting mother needs to pay careful attention to her health, lifestyle, and diet to have a healthy baby. One important parameter that indicates a healthy baby during pregnancy is fetal weight, assessed during the prenatal scans. Optimal fetal weight gain is an important part of fetal development.
As a mother’s diet is the primary source of nutrition for the baby, it becomes essential to include foods that help with optimal fetal weight gain during pregnancy. You are eating for two, but you need to increase your calorie intake by only 500 calories, in a well curated healthy diet. And that’s exactly what we would discuss here.
18 Foods To Eat To Increase Fetal Weight During Pregnancy
An expecting mother should take intense care of her diet to make sure the fetus is getting all the nutrients it needs for growth and development. Studies prove good quality diet during pregnancy lowers the risk of having a low birth weight baby.
Therefore, the food the mother eats during pregnancy influences the fetal weight. During the third trimester, especially during the ninth month, the fetus undergoes rapid weight gain. Hence, it is important to include foods to increase fetal weight in the 9th month.
Here are 18 foods to eat to increase fetal weight during pregnancy. When it comes to the healthy growth of the fetus, it is important to focus on vitamin D, Vitamin A, calcium, folic acid, iron, proteins, and DHA.
Including at least 4 of these foods throughout pregnancy in your daily menu will reduce the risk of low fetal weight.
Including eggs in the pregnancy diet helps with fetal weight gain during pregnancy. Eggs are an excellent source of vitamins A, and D. They also contain minerals like iron. Eggs also contain a significant amount of folic acid and choline.
The proteins in eggs are of such superior quality that they are taken as a reference protein. This means egg proteins are used to assess the quality of other proteins by matching against them.
According to studies, an expecting mother should consume 90 to 100 grams of protein every day. The proteins play a major role in fetal weight, growth, and development. However, the intake of protein depends on an individual’s weight. Check out this list of sources of proteins that you can use for your benefit. However, steer clear of eating raw eggs during pregnancy.
Related Reading: Scientific Reasons To Not Eat Raw Eggs During Pregnancy
2. Have milk daily for fetal weight gain
Milk is a rich source of calcium and protein. Cow milk is loaded with many nutrients essential for fetal development. It delivers amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and protein that are vital for fetal growth.
According to studies, drinking milk during pregnancy have a positive effect on fetal weight. For this, it is important to have a daily consumption of 200 to 500 ml of milk. You can have three cups at different times per day.
Compared to mothers who included 3 cups of milk a day in their pregnancy diet, those who consumed less than one cup, or never included milk during pregnancy, delivered smaller babies.
You can drink plain warm milk or you can add it to porridge and cereal. Remember not to drink milk after a heavy meal. Drinking a glass of warm milk with a dash of honey before bedtime provides quality sleep.
Related Reading: Soy Milk During Pregnancy – Benefits, Risks And Precautions
3. Milk products
Besides providing all the benefits of it also enhances gut health due to its probiotics property. Thus include buttermilk, raita, plain curd, or yogurt in the daily menu during pregnancy.
If you don’t like milk, have some paneer(cottage cheese) or make yourself a cheese sandwich. 50 grams of paneer or cheese equals a glass of milk in terms of nutrition. You can also add cheese to whole wheat pasta.
However, it is better to avoid cheese if you have pregnancy hypertension because of its salt content. Instead, stick with homemade paneer. Also, refer to these cheeses that you must avoid and make sure your cheese is always made from pasteurized milk.
4. Peas and Beans
These both are jam-packed with iron and proteins. They can be included in the pregnancy diet in both fresh or dried forms. Peas and beans can satisfy the major nutrient needs for fetal weight gain. Include these foods in your diet to increase fetal weight during pregnancy.
These are highly beneficial for vegetarians and provide almost all the nutrients one receives from meat and fish. Being rich in zinc, these come under the category of foods to increase fetal weight during pregnancy.
Another one of the important foods to increase fetal weight during pregnancy is soybeans. It is one of the richest storehouses of protein and is highly beneficial for vegetarians to fill their protein needs.
Besides being a rich protein source, soybeans also contain a significant amount of fiber, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, iron, and phosphorous
This can be included in various forms in the pregnancy diet. Soy milk, soy nuggets, and tofu (paneer version of soymilk that can substitute paneer in all recipes) are much loved. Tasty soy products can be included easily in the pregnancy diet.
However, the basic rule of food during pregnancy-moderation is the key– applies to soyabean and soy products as well. Half a cup of tofu or one cup of soy milk will serve the purpose.
However, those who are having hypothyroid issues should keep away from soybeans and soy products.
6. Lentils- a must in pregnancy diet
Another important group of foods to increase fetal weight during pregnancy is lentils. They are edible seeds from the family of legumes. Legumes, besides being a rich source of protein, are also packed with essential nutrients like folate, manganese, phosphorous, iron, and thiamin.
They also contain a significant amount of copper, potassium, and magnesium. They are also rich in plant-based fiber. Just including two servings of lentils serves the purpose of the protein intake to a great extent and helps with fetal weight gain.
7. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta–carotene. Once ingested, this antioxidant will be converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A is crucial for the growth of fetal tissues and cells. It also increases iron levels in the body, which is also beneficial for fetal growth.
You can include them in a pregnancy menu in different forms. You can stew them, or stir fry or bake them. They’re not only beneficial for the fetus, but also the mother.
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber and vitamin C and hence combat constipation and enhance the immunity of the mother.
Including pulses in the diet is an inexpensive and smart way to increase fetal weight during pregnancy. They is rich in iron and folate. Studies show that including pulses in the daily menu helps to ward off many health issues that can impede the normal progress of the pregnancy.
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9. Kale and asparagus
Green leafy vegetables like kale and asparagus are one of those foods to increase fetal weight during pregnancy. Green leaves are loaded with iron and two to three serves of green leafy vegetables will satisfy the daily requirement of iron.
They are loaded with essential nutrients, vitamin A, and antioxidants that meet the growing needs of the fetus & fetal tissues. Leafy vegetables are ideal to eat to increase baby weight in the third trimester. You can consume them in raw, cooked, baked, or stir-fried form to reap maximum benefits.
If consuming them in salad, opt for organic variety and thoroughly clean them to avoid risk of infections.
10. Orange juice
Start your day with a glass of fresh orange juice during pregnancy. Besides spiking the level of vitamin C and boosting your immunity, it also helps to increase the fetal weight. This is because it contains an ample amount of folic acid and folate.
Related Reading: 11 Healthy And Refreshing Juices During Pregnancy To Drink
If you are a fan of non-vegetarian food, chicken is an ideal food for baby growth during pregnancy. It is packed with superior quality proteins. 100 grams of chicken per day satisfy 50% of the protein requirement in a pregnant woman.
It also contains nine essential amino acids. It is rich in iron and zinc that facilitates new cell and tissue formation. Thus, including chicken in the pregnancy menu help in the cell and muscle development of the fetus, and thereby increases fetal weight.
Pumpkins are highly nutritious. They are a great source of essential Vitamins, like Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, and Vitamin C. It is also rich in iron, calcium, and zinc. It is also loaded with protein, omega 3, and carbohydrates.
Pumpkins are one of those vegetables to be included in your diet to increase fetal weight.
Related Reading: Pumpkin Seeds During Pregnancy- All You Need To Know
Salmon is one of the nutrition enriched fish that is highly beneficial for the mother and the baby in the womb. Salmon is one of the fish that contain the least amount of mercury. Hence it is one of the healthy fishes available.
It is loaded with omega 3 fatty acid and hence it helps with the central nervous system and overall development of the baby.
14. Spinach for fetal weight gain during pregnancy
Spinach is loaded with calcium and folic acid. While calcium is important for bone development, folic acid is important for the brain development of the fetus. It is important to include green leaves in the pregnancy diet.
Spinach is one of those healthy greens that helps to increase fetal weight gain during pregnancy.
Nuts like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts offer many health benefits. Nuts are loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids and other healthy nutrients. They also provide micronutrients like zinc, iron, and copper. Nuts also contain a significant amount of proteins.
All these constituents in nuts make them an ideal food to increase fetal weight during pregnancy. They can be included in the pregnancy diet as a mid-meal snack. A hand full of nuts helps to fight off hunger pangs too.
Related Reading: What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Eating During Pregnancy?
Broccoli is an excellent source of folate and fiber. It has relatively more protein than many vegetables. This is a vegetable besides green leafy ones, which provides iron, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and Vitamin K. It also contains potassium.
Therefore, including broccoli in the pregnancy diet can help to increase fetal weight. However, patient of hypothyroidism should avoid it.
17. Whole grain cereals
Make whole-grain cereals an important part of your pregnancy diet. There is a range of whole grains you can choose from. Replace refined cereals with whole grains. Whole grain cereals help to increase fetal weight.
Indian foods to increase fetal weight during pregnancy can be prepared using whole grains like brown rice, Dalia, bajra, and millets as main ingredients.
Besides being a good source of healthy fats, avocados are rich in fiber and vitamins C and E. Avocados are considered an ideal food to increase fetal weight. It contains many essential nutrients, such as potassium and folate, which plays a vital role in the growth of the fetus. Eat one avocado daily to reap the benefits.
Tips To Increase Fetal Weight During Pregnancy
Besides these foods to increase fetal weight during pregnancy, here are some other tips to help attain optimal fetal weight gain.
- Take ample rest and sleep throughout pregnancy
- Never miss prenatal vitamins prescribed by the doctor. These vitamins can potentially fill possible nutritional gaps
- Always try to stay relaxed. Stay away from all negative vibe. Always try to be happy
- Stay well hydrated
- Limit fried and oily foods. Focus on clean, healthy eating without disturbing the nutritional components
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Stay away from drugs, alcohol, and smoking
- Limit or avoid caffeine intake
- Avoid intake of excessive salty and sugary foods
Always stick to healthy food choices during pregnancy. It will make sure your baby’s growth and development are on track. Even though the above-mentioned foods can help to increase fetal weight, it is not a solution for low fetal weight.
In case of low fetal weight, it is important to follow the guidelines of your doctor to bring the fetal weight back to track.