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Pregnancy is the most beautiful phase in a woman's life. It brings about emotional and physiological changes as well as poses extra demands on the body. Good nutrition during pregnancy helps keep the mother and baby healthy.

In this phase the body needs extra nutrition for the developing fetus, pregnant woman herself and the lactation period to follow. These nutritional demands have to be met for a healthy child and mother. The diet before and during pregnancy should be rich in calories, proteins, vitamins and minerals. This need varies in the three trimesters.

The diet during pregnancy should comprise of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, low-fat dairy foods and lean meats, chicken and fish (low in mercury), dried beans and lentils, and nuts and seeds.

A pregnant woman should avoid certain foods like unpasteurized milk, raw or uncooked meat, poultry, fish and eggs, alcohol and caffeine.

It is always advisable to eat 5-6 small meals each day, instead of 3 large ones. Avoid skipping meals as the baby needs regular sustenance, and the expectant mother also needs to keep up her energy levels. Having healthy snacks like salads, sandwiches, soups or fresh fruits between meals is also a good idea.

The baby needs healthy foods packed with nutrients and not ‘empty calories’ such as those found in soft drinks, candies and desserts.

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