Every woman would want to give birth to a healthy baby and healthy mostly equates to being bulky. So, the weight of the baby is a concern. Though most babies are born with an average weight of 2.75 kg (a healthy weight), numbers that go below this do not go down well with the people, including the medical fraternity. And with the changing lifestyles, low birth weight is now becoming a common scenario.
Very few studies suggest that the weight of the foetus can be increased with proper intake of food; but it is not an impossible feat. Irrespective of proper evidence regarding this, doctors do suggest women having foetal weight issues to make changes to the diet to set things right. The importance must actually be given to eating the right amount of nutrients than 'eating for two'. Let's delve deep into this.
How Is The Foetal Weight Measured?
The weight of the unborn baby is measured during the time of the ultrasound scan. The scan is usually done for 3 to 4 times during the course of the pregnancy at regular intervals to keep a track of the baby's health. The machine takes the measurement of the foetus. These are calculated as follows:
- Biparietal Diameter
- Femur Length
- Head Circumference
- Occipitofrontal Diameter
- Abdominal Circumference
- Humerus Length
With the numbers of the above, a formula is used to arrive at the weight of foetus. Two main measurements that determine the weight are the biparietal diameter and abdominal circumference. The measurement is not always accurate and the chances of a difference are +/- 10%.
Reasons For Low Foetal Weight
A baby with a low foetal weight must be administered properly. The reasons for the same might include:
- Underweight mother
- Poor diet
- IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction)
- SGA (Small for Gestational Age)
- Maternal age
- Pre-existing medical conditions
Ideal Weight Gain In Indian Babies
According to studies, the ideal weight gain for Indian babies would probably be as follows:
10th week: 4 g
15th week: 70 g
20th week: 300 g
25th week: 660 g
30th week: 1.3 kg
35th week: 2.4 kg
36th week: 2.6 kg
37th week: 2.9 kg
38th week: 3.1 kg
39th week: 3.3 kg
40th week: 3.5 kg
This is only a chart that acts as a guide to keep an eye on the baby's weight. The weight of the baby does not have anything to do with the health. There are small babies who are healthier than bigger ones and vice versa too. After all, each child is different. However, if the reason for a low fetal weight is due to poor diet, it is high time to make changes to the food intake.
Foods To Be Included To Gain Foetal Weight
Note: It is suggested to have foods rich in protein to gain proper foetal weight than to have unhealthy fats and carbohydrates. The needed quantity of protein per day for a pregnant woman is around 80 g. There are some sections of people in the medical field who say that this quantity is too much and might result in a larger baby than needed.
So, a balanced diet must be taken by carrying women by having more of the foods listed below for sufficient foetal weight.
The quality of proteins in eggs are so high that it is taken as a reference when comparing the proteins in other foods. In addition, they also contain folic acid, choline, and iron. Most of the protein in the egg can be absorbed by the body when it is taken in the hard-boiled form. One hard-boiled egg a day is more than enough for a pregnant woman.
Dry Fruits & Nuts
Healthy weight gain of the foetus is possible with sufficient intake of dry fruits and nuts. Most doctors also suggest having nuts for women with foetal weight issues. They are a good source of protein and are not fatty. Nuts include almonds, peanuts, pista, walnuts, and many others. The best dry fruits to be had are dates, dried apricots, black raisins, and figs. Consume a handful of them as an evening snack.
Minimum 2 glasses of milk a day is a must for pregnant women. It can go upto four a day. It is undoubtedly one of the best sources of protein and a study says that an intake of 200-500 mL per day can have a positive effect on the foetal weight. Most of the benefits from the milk can be reaped when taken in the plain form. It can also be added to porridges and smoothies.
Yoghurt has the capability to prevent the risk of low birth weight in babies. The surprising fact is that in addition to being a protein source, yoghurt has more calcium content than milk. It is also rich in vitamin B complex and zinc. Carrying women are suggested to have three servings of yoghurt a day.
Leafy Green Vegetables
A good amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, iron, and magnesium can be obtained by having leafy green veggies at least thrice a week. Broccoli also falls under this category. Vitamin A is important for good eyesight and plays a key role in the development of skin and bone in the baby, which obviously leads to weight gain.
Lean meat is a great protein source which is important for the development of muscles and tissues of the foetus. Components such as iron and vitamin B complex help in the brain development of the baby too. A portion of chicken, lamb, and even seafood 2-3 times a week will do good.
Refined cereals like maida and cornflour should be replaced with whole grains. Whole grains include millets, dalia, and brown rice. Protein, iron, magnesium, carbohydrates, and fibre can be obtained from them. It is good to make sure to have a minimum of two servings of whole grains on a daily basis during the course of pregnancy.
Besides being abundant in protein, fish is the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. One must make sure not to have fish with high mercury content. Fish is a good option for the overall development of the foetus.
Cottage cheese or paneer is an Indian favourite, especially for vegetarians. 40-50 g of low-fat paneer equals to one glass of milk. It can be added to pastas, gravies, rotis, etc. Homemade ones are better off than the store-bought cottage cheese.
Two servings of legumes a day are compulsory when pregnant. Chickpeas, soybeans, kidney beans, peas, lentils, and many others are high in protein and carbohydrates but low in fat. Legumes are essential for a healthy baby with ideal weight.