Nutrition during pregnancy

What is nutrition?

Nutrition is the processes involved in the taking in and utilising food substances by which growth and repair of the body tissues are accomplished. The process involves ingestion, digestion, absorption, and assimilation. Nutrients provide energy and biomolecules necessary for carrying out the various metabolic activities. Nutrients are substances in our daily diet that our bodies need so they can function and grow. The body gets the nutrients that it needs from a healthy and balanced diet. They include the right amount of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water in the diet.

 

Why is nutrition important during pregnancy?

Adopting a nutritious, well-balanced eating plan during pregnancy is essential for the growth and development of the unborn. The eating habits of the mum-to-be directly affect the unborn. The body needs many more important nutrients than required before pregnancy. Making healthy food choices every day will help the mother and the baby gain the proper amount of weight. Eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy is linked to good fetal brain development, a healthy birth weight, reducing the risk of many birth defects and anaemia, as well as pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness. Healthy and tasty blends of nutritious foods can improve fertility and pave the way for easier labour. 

For a woman to give birth to a healthy baby, it is always recommended to maintain a healthy diet, remain active, and drink lots of fluids. When building a healthy eating plan, you must understand which nutrients you need most and focus on whole foods that give you higher amounts of the good stuff.

 

Must have nutrients in diet 

Protein

Protein is crucial for the normal cell growth and function of the baby. Eating protein throughout the pregnancy acts as a natural diuretic for the mother, helping to prevent swelling, fluid build-up, and toxaemia. During pregnancy meetings, your daily protein needs may also lower the risk of complications like fetal growth restriction and preterm labor. 

The amount of protein a pregnant woman should intake depends on a few different factors, such as physical activity and weight, but about 71 grams per day is required.

Sources of protein include lean meat, poultry, seafood, cottage cheese, eggs, lentils, nuts, and soy products.

 

Folic Acid

Folic acid should be taken before conception and continue throughout the pregnancy as most neural tube defects occur. Folic acid can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects and anencephaly defects, which are linked to birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects can lead to varying degrees of paralysis and sometimes intellectual disability.  

The proper amount of Folic acid in pregnancy diets has been shown to decrease the risk of premature birth and to have a low birth weight baby as well as contribute to blood and cell production. 

The appropriate amount of folic acid recommended by the doctor is 400 micrograms a day before conception and 600 to 1,000 micrograms of a day throughout pregnancy.

Green leafy vegetables, asparagus, cereals, beans, oranges, and sunflower seeds, are the healthiest sources of folic acid.

 

Iron

During pregnancy, the body requires double iron supplements. This is because the body needs this iron to make more blood to supply oxygen to the baby. Thus enough iron stores develop healthy red blood cells to prevent anaemia. Severe iron deficiency during pregnancy also increases the risk of premature birth, having a low birth weight baby, and postpartum depression with symptoms of headaches or fatigue. 

During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the body increases, so one should get 27 mg (milligrams) of iron a day.

The diet must contain spinach, whole grain bread, cereals, lentils, and poultry, as a part of an iron supplement.

 

Calcium and minerals

Calcium builds strong bones and teeth as well as supports the healthy functioning of the muscular and nervous systems. Calcium during pregnancy also reduces the risk of preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that causes a sudden increase in blood pressure. 

For pregnant women, the amount of calcium needed is 1,000 milligrams (mg) a day.

Low-fat dairy products are the best-absorbed sources of calcium. Greek yogurt contains more calcium than most other dairy products and is beneficial. Non-dairy calcium sources include broccoli, kale, fruit juices, canned salmon, and breakfast cereals.

 

Vitamins

Vitamin B complex helps maintain a healthy nervous system and contributes to the effective use of carbohydrates and fats.

Vitamin D helps calcium absorb to build up a baby’s bones and teeth. Vitamin B12 plays an important factor in DNA synthesis. Pure cod liver oil, omega-3 fish, banana, pork, poultry, tuna, and other fatty fishes are good sources of vitamins.

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