Importance of Nutrition in Pregnancy
Good nutrition is essential for a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy period. The best time to reconsider and review your nutritional practices is when you are having your first pregnancy especially the first weeks into the pregnancy since it is when the major fetal body systems are being formed and rapidly developed. Sometimes it’s essential to make their nutritional and lifestyle changes months before conception takes place.
Folic acid is one such ingredient that you could take in the months prior to conception so that your body has enough for baby’s requirement to develop the nervous system and brain and prevent certain neural tube birth defects. Either folic acid rich foods like orange juice, fortified cereals, grapefruit, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, lentils, peas or a daily folic acid supplement (400 micrograms) is recommended.
If you undertake poor eating habits during a pregnancy it will be detrimental to yourself and to the child’s health, bearing in mind that your baby eats what you eat. Alcohol ingestion and smoking cigarettes has its effect on your baby. Babies are addicted to these substances when they are born and suffer a lot as a result of the withdrawal that occurs after the baby is born. The possibility of miscarriage, low birth weight, birth defects and growth retardation is also there. It is always a good idea to seek help to eliminate these substances if you truly care for your baby.
Weight gain during pregnancy is very encouraging, it may be caused by such factors as the average placenta weight, breast enlargement, amniotic fluid, uterine mass, increase in fat deposits and volume of blood as well as other fluids in addition to the developing baby’s weight.
These increases on average on a daily basis thus the expected weight gain. To counter this increased caloric needs you therefore need to increase the serving size but should not be made up of fatty foods but rather with additions in grains, dairy, fruits, vegetables and protein.
You should note also that the weight gain should occur gradually during the pregnancy but it should not occur in the first trimester due to nausea and vomiting. To counter this you should take more fluids.
Eating for two means eating right since pregnancy requires more nutrients than calories. Proteins help in organ growth such as breast enlargement and uterus size increment as well as fetal development. Good sources of these are eggs, meat, milk, fish and beans. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and they come from cereals, fruit and milk. Another important nutrient source is fats which are essential, but should not surpass 30% of the total calories in the body. They help in vitamin absorption and development of fetal nervous system. Avoid hydrogenated or saturated oils or fats. Monounsaturated oils like canola and olive oil are healthy choices.
Some women eat whatever they want and justify it as their baby’s requirement. An additional 200 to 300 calories is what you require and more than that will cause weight gain. Excess sugar intake and you run the risk of getting gestational diabetes. So make wise food choices and enjoy a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby!