Pregnancy Nutrition for Expecting Mothers05/09/2018
Proper pregnancy nutrition is a vital factor in proper fetal development because the fetus is physically incapable of providing for itself, nor can it show any visible signs of under-nourishment between monthly check-ups as a newborn can. That means that for the next nine months, it is going to be completely up to you (the mother-to-be) to ensure that you eat properly, taking in the vitamins and nutrients that are going to help you give birth to a healthy, happy baby while keeping yourself healthy at the same time.
Remember, the baby is going to take what it needs long before those nutrients ever have the opportunity to go through your system. By not eating properly, you’re not only harming your baby, you’re harming yourself as well. That is why it is important that you make sure you get the vitamins and nutrients that you need for the next nine months as well. Lack of attention might still lead to a healthy baby, but the baby is not going to change themselves! Mothers need to be healthy too in order to keep up with her little bundle of joy in the coming months. Giving birth is hard enough on the body. You certainly don’t want to add malnutrition into the mix.
The problem that many women face when it comes to pregnancy nutrition is that they simply do not understand. Why? Not because they’re stupid, or because they don’t want to do what’s best for their baby. It is because most books on pregnancy, particularly those that deal with the ins and outs of nutrition for the next nine months, are written by medical professionals. That makes sense, right?
Most mothers aren’t doctors, however, and that’s where the trouble comes. It is all well and good to sit down and look at a chart that shows how much of each mineral you’re supposed to take on a daily basis over the next nine months, but if you don’t understand what you’re reading and the effect it’s going to have on your baby, then it is not going to do you much good. You are going to spend a month, maybe two, looking at the labels on the back of your food. Then you are going to get sick of it and go back to your old eating habits, reasoning that you have always been healthy. You are taking your prenatal vitamins. What could go wrong?
In The Fit and Healthy Pregnancy Guide, you will find a thorough breakdown of the nutrients you need to ensure that you deliver a healthy baby when the time comes and basic guidelines for the trimester-by-trimester dietary changes you are going to have to make, all written in every day, ordinary English rather than medical jargons. What that means is that you don’t have to go and buy a medical dictionary to understand what you are about to read! Even if you can’t follow an ordinary, “recommended” pregnancy diet (which tends to get old after the first trimester) you can still give your little bundle of joy a “best odds” chance at making a great start in life.
If you have ever attempted to go on any kind of diet that involved reading the information on the nutritional labels of your food, you are all too familiar with the fact that those little words and symbols can start to look like Greek after a while. If you are not a doctor or a nutritionist, you probably have no idea of what Vitamin B or Folic Acid are, much less why they are important. The first step to conquering pregnancy nutrition is understanding what you are eating, how much you should eat, why you are eating it and how it is going to help your baby.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps the development of baby’s bones and teeth, as well as their heart, ears, eyes and immune system (the body system that fights infection). Vitamin A deficiency has been associated with vision problems, which is why your mother always told you to eat your carrots when you were a child! Getting enough Vitamin A during pregnancy will also help your body repair the damage that may be caused during childbirth.
- Vitamin B6: Also known as Pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 helps your baby’s brain and nervous system develop. It also helps mother and baby develop new red blood cells. Vitamin B6 has been known to help alleviate morning sickness in some pregnant women. Pregnant women should consume at least 1.9 mg per day of Vitamin B6. That amount rises slightly when nursing to 2.0 mg per day. Vitamin B6 can be found in fortified cereals, as well as bananas, baked potatoes, watermelon, chick peas and chicken breast.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 works hand-in-hand with folic acid to help both mother and baby produce healthy red blood cells, and it helps develop the fetal brain and nervous system. The body stores years’ worth of B12 away, so unless you are a vegan or suffer from pernicious anemia, the likelihood of a B12 deficiency is very slim.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron and build a healthy immune system in both mother and baby. It also holds the cells together, helping the body to build tissue. Since the Daily Recommended Allowance of Vitamin C is so easy to consume by eating the right foods, supplementation is rarely needed. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, raspberries, bell peppers, green beans, strawberries, papaya, potatoes, broccoli and tomatoes, as well as in many cough drops and other supplements.
- Calcium: Calcium builds your baby’s bones and helps its brain and heart to function. Calcium intake increases dramatically during pregnancy. Women with calcium deficiency at any point in their lives are more likely to suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis which directly affect the bones.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, leading to healthy bones for both mother and baby. Since babies need more Vitamin D than adults, babies that are only breastfeeding may need a Vitamin D supplement, so if your doctor recommends this don’t worry. You haven’t done anything wrong! Formula is fortified with Vitamin D, so if you are bottle feeding or supplementing with formula, your baby is probably getting sufficient amounts of this vital nutrient.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E helps baby’s body to form and use its muscles and red blood cells. Lack of Vitamin E during pregnancy has been associated with pre-eclampsia (a condition causing excessively high blood pressure and fluid retention) and low birth weight. On the other hand, Vitamin E overdose has been tentatively associated with stillbirth in mothers who “self-medicated” with supplements.
- Folic Acid: Also known as Folate or Vitamin B9, Folic Acid is a vital part of your baby’s development. The body uses Folic Acid for the replication of DNA, cell growth and tissue formation. A Folic Acid deficiency during pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida (a condition in which the spinal cord does not form completely), anencephaly (underdevelopment of the brain) and encephalocele (a condition in which brain tissue protrudes out to the skin from an abnormal opening in the skull).
- Iron: Iron helps your body to form the extra blood that it’s going to need to keep you and baby healthy, as well as helping to form the placenta and develop the baby’s cells. Women are rarely able to consume enough iron during their pregnancy through eating alone, so iron supplements along with prenatal vitamins are often prescribed. The extra iron rarely causes side effects; however, overdosing on iron supplements can be very harmful for both you and your baby by causing iron build-up in the cells.
- Protein: Protein is the building block of the body’s cells, and as such it is very important to the growth and development of every part of your baby’s body during pregnancy. This is especially important in the second and third trimester, when both mother and baby are growing the fastest. Protein can be found naturally in beans, poultry, red meats, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt. It is also available in supplements, fortified cereals and protein bars.
- Zinc: Zinc is vital for the growth of your fetus because it aids in cell division, the primary process in the growth of baby’s tiny tissues and organs. It also helps mother and baby to produce insulin and other enzymes. Zinc can be found naturally in red meats, poultry, beans, nuts, grains, oysters and dairy products, as well as fortified cereals and supplements.
Now that you’re familiar with the various vitamins and minerals that you are going to need to have during pregnancy, let’s touch on another topic that is near and dear to the female heart – calories. In light of society’s love with scrawny women, women who are less than thin have developed a major complex when it comes to calories. They count them, they burn them, they measure them, and they factor them. They avoid them whenever possible and are enthusiastic consumers of anything that has the words “low” and “calorie” printed on them. In short, women have made battling against calories their lifelong mission, dedicating themselves to it with a fervency that would equal any religious zealot in the world.
Caloric Intake During Pregnancy
The first thing you must understand is that pregnancy is not the time to be counting calories. If you are on a diet that involves severely restricting your caloric intake, get off it. For the next nine months, you have permission to not suffer for beauty. Not only is restricting calories not going to result in weight loss (you’re going to gain some as the baby grows whether you like it or not) it could potentially harm your baby.
Not getting enough calories during pregnancy can lead to the baby not having what it needs to develop properly. Low birth weight is a common complication, as is poor fetal development. The baby may have any number of deficiency-associated birth defects. In short, it is important that when you are pregnant, you get enough to eat. You can burn it all off after the baby is born, although to be honest, if you have time to worry about your weight, you will be handling new motherhood better than most!
Eating a Regular Diet
As children are exposed to more foods at an earlier age, the incidence of food allergy and intolerance is rising. Add to this, the problems of diabetes, vegan and vegetarianism, metabolic disorders and general dislikes and you can come up with an equation that equals trouble for a pregnant woman. The question is, what do you do when you can’t eat a regular pregnancy diet? The answer is, get creative! If you suffer from diabetes or a digestive disorder, or you have a major metabolic disorder, you probably have a pretty good idea of how to manage your diet to provide the most nutrients at a time without overdoing it. To be safe, however, it would be wise to speak with your doctor about what foods you can and cannot have (and in what amounts you are allowed to have them) in the coming months.
If you do not have a condition that requires specific, direct medical supervision and simply need to make some changes to the diet shown earlier, you’re going to find that it’s going to be simpler than you would think (although you’re probably going to be pretty sick of your core foods by the time you deliver!) With some dietary substitutions, however, you should still be able to maintain a healthy diet throughout the course of your pregnancy.