It is important that the pregnant woman’s diet is nutritionally healthy so that she produces a healthy baby while maintaining her own health. Even before pregnancy, a balanced diet is important for a woman of childbearing age in order to be able to cope with the demands of pregnancy.
There should be a popular saying that a pregnant woman should “eat for tow.” In a way, that’s true, but it doesn’t mean she should eat twice the amount of food. This is not necessary and can lead to obesity.
Nutritional advice for pregnant women is available from the midwife, doctor and community nurse, who carefully monitor the health of mother and child. During early pregnancy, a woman can feel or be ill at any time of the day or night. This can make good nutrition very difficult. All nutrients are important during pregnancy, but the following are particularly important.
- Essential fatty acids are needed by the fetus for brain growth and cell division.
- Vitamin D deficiency can lead to low birth weight and tetany in the baby and osteomalacia in the mother.
- Vitamin E is essential, especially in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. If the baby is born prematurely, they may need vitamin E supplementation.
- During pregnancy, a vitamin K deficiency can lead to bleeding in the first month after birth. To prevent this, most newborns are given vitamin K, either by mouth or by injection.
- Folic acid is needed very early in pregnancy for the proper development of the brain and nervous system of the fetus. Even before pregnancy, a woman needs sufficient folic acid in her diet. Folic acid deficiency can lead to miscarriage, slow growth, fetal malformations or premature birth.
- A vegetarian mother may be deficient in vitamin B12 and may need to take supplements during pregnancy and while breastfeeding to ensure she has adequate vitamin B12. The fetus stores vitamin B12 so that it has enough for the first 6 months after birth.
- The fetus needs a lot of calcium in the last few weeks of pregnancy as the skeleton is developing. If there is insufficient calcium or vitamin D during the pregnant woman’s diet program, she can lose calcium from her skeleton, which can lead to weakened bones and teeth.
- The mother must have enough iron during pregnancy. It is needed to fuel your own body and to provide iron to the growing baby for the first few months after birth. Breast milk and cow’s milk are both poor sources of iron, so this store is vital. During pregnancy, the hemoglobin level in the blood is checked regularly. If less than 10 mg is present, the mother is anemic.
- Constipation can be a problem in pregnancy. If this is the case, women should increase the amount of fiber in their diet and exercise gently.
Thanks to Natasha Rei