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Diet during Pregnancy Print

The foetus derives primary nourishment from the pregnant mother. What she consumes affects the growth and development of her child, physically, mentally and even spiritually. A bad diet can result in miscarriage. Consumption of religiously forbidden foods or earnings harms the spirituality of the child. It is therefore vitally important that she adheres to a healthy and spiritually wholesome regimen.

Before Conception
Potential parents should pay attention to their fitness before conception. Healthy parents tend to produce healthy babies. Both parents should eat a nutritious balanced diet. The Quraan forbids that which harms oneself. Smoking and alcohol are harmful, even if there might be a distinction in their rulings. Regular exercise is important. Allah’s Messenger (Allah’s salutations and peace be upon him) has also taught us supplications to be recited before sexual intercourse.

During Pregnancy
Women who smoke have a higher risk of miscarriage and of having an underweight baby. Birth defects are also a possibility.

Nutritional quality is even more important than quantity during the first three months of pregnancy, when rudimentary organs are beginning to develop. The foetus deprived of proper nutrition may not develop correctly and may even spontaneously abort.

A balanced diet should include:
  • Complex carbohydrates for iron and zinc (whole-wheat bread, pasta and green vegetables);
  • Milk for calcium, vitamins and protein;
  • Lean meat, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds for protein, iron, B vitamins and zinc;
  • Oily fish and vegetable oils for essentials acids;
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables for fibre, vitamin C and folate.
What to avoid
Soft rind cheeses and unpasteurised dairy products may carry the bacteria for listeriosis, an infection that could lead to miscarriage, or severe illness in the baby. Cook meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly to kill bacteria. Excessive amounts of vitamin A can cause birth defects. Pregnant women should therefore avoid foods such as liver. Similarly they should limit caffeine intake to 300 mg (coffee, tea, chocolate etc.) Only medication prescribed by professionals should be taken during this sensitive period.

There is a link between folic acid deficiency and neural tube defects and there is a greater risk of miscarriage in such cases. The Department of Health recommends supplements of folic acid at 0.4mg per day for women from three months before conception up till 12 weeks into pregnancy. Supplements of iron and folic acid may be prescribed during the latter stages of pregnancy to prevent anaemia. 
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