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The Importance Of Nutrition During Pregnancy

The Importance Of Nutrition During Pregnancy

The basic building blocks of our bodies are nutrients. Proper nutrition involves consuming a balanced and healthy diet in order to ensure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs. Whether you are pregnant, trying to provide all the essential nutrients your baby needs to grow, or you are trying to keep yourself healthy, it is important that you consume enough water, vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

If you currently maintain a healthy weight and aren't pregnant with twins or triplets, doubling your food intake will only result in excessive weight gain, which in turn may increase the risk of complications during pregnancy. Although your growing baby and body require additional nutrients, you can rely on what nature has to offer to make your body more efficient healthwise during your pregnancy, so that it absorbs more nutrients from the foods you eat.

It is crucial that you are aware of the importance of nutrition during pregnancy as your overall health directly affects your little one. Continue reading to discover more about the importance of nutrition and the various dietary needs that arise during pregnancy.

Why Nutrition Is Important For Pregnant Women

As you are probably aware, pregnancy causes a great deal of physical and hormonal changes in the body. You'll need to choose healthy foods from a range of sources in order to sustain both you and your developing baby. Having a healthy, balanced diet will give you strength, keep you feeling good and will provide everything that you and your baby need nutritionally. Getting all of the essential nutrients required is crucial because the food you consume is your baby's primary source of nourishment.

Not receiving the necessary nourishment however can result in severe health conditions. If pregnant mothers do not receive sufficient nutrition, there is a high possibility that some of the baby’s genes can get altered. This could cause their organs and tissues to develop abnormally. As the foetus is accustomed to an environment of nutritional scarcity, they may also struggle to adjust to consuming a normal and healthy amount of food after birth. This will thereafter increase the likelihood of your child having to battle cardiovascular and metabolic disorders as an adult.

Ensure that your baby receives the required amount of nutrition by feeding them breast milk, which meets the baby's nutritional requirement after delivery. Furthermore, the nutritional status of a mother is impacted by the composition of her milk, which in turn directly affects her infant's nutritional status.

In order to achieve this, the best recommendation is goat milk. It is a nutrient-packed natural source of nourishment that many mothers have turned to for generations. Goat milk is a better option for pregnant mothers than any other animal milk because it has higher levels of calcium and vitamin D, as well as lower levels of natural milk fat. As a result, it is easier for our bodies to digest and absorb.

Nutritional Requirements During Pregnancy

It's natural for your body to have increased nutritional needs during pregnancy - after all, you're feeding the baby growing within you! Even though the old presumption of "eating for two" isn't entirely true, you do require more macro- and micronutrients to support yourself and your baby. Calories, or energy, are provided by macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is important to eat more of each type of nutrient during pregnancy.

You can follow these nutritional guidelines during pregnancy:

  • 1200 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 600 to 800 micrograms of folate
  • 27 mg of Iron
  • 70 to 100 grams (g) of protein per day, however, this should be increased each trimester.

Most women can meet these increased pregnancy nutrition needs by choosing a diet that includes a variety of healthy micronutrients and macronutrients such as:

  • Protein
  • Protein is critical for the proper development of your baby’s organs and tissues. Protein contributes to your increasing blood supply, allowing your baby to receive more blood. Additionally, it promotes the growth of breast and uterine tissues during pregnancy as well. As your pregnancy progresses, your protein requirements increase through each trimester as well. Pregnant women can even consume more protein than recommended, as per some experts.

    You can get protein from the following food types:

    • Chicken
    • Salmon
    • Lean beef
    • Nuts
    • Beans
    • Peanut butter
    • Cottage cheese
  • Calcium
  • Calcium is particularly important during pregnancy to ensure that your baby grows strong bones. It also plays a role in regulating your body's fluid use. If you cannot consume dairy products, try getting your calcium from other foods, such as vegetables, okra, spinach and scallions - which are known to have rich calcium content in them. It is also beneficial to consume milk/soy milk while pregnant to add variety to your diet. There are a number of benefits associated with goat milk, including how rich it is in protein, calcium, and vitamin A, and a high content of essential fatty acids and vitamin B2. No matter what type you choose, you should avoid drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk during pregnancy as it may contain harmful bacteria that can cause infections that affect both you and your unborn child.

    There are a number of good calcium sources, including:

    1. Milk
    2. Cheese
    3. Yoghurt
    4. Seafood and fish that are low in mercury, such as salmon, shrimp, catfish, and canned light tuna
    5. Dark green, leafy vegetables
    6. Calcium-set tofu

  • Folate
  • The lack of folate or folic acid can cause serious birth disorders ranging from various degrees of paralysis, incontinence, and occasionally intellectual incapacity as neural tube defects directly impact the baby's brain and spinal cord.

    Folic acid is most important during the first 28 days following conception when neural tube defects are most common. The problem is that it may take you longer than 28 days to realise you are pregnant. Therefore, you should consume folic acid before conception and throughout your pregnancy.

    Foods that contain folate include:

    • Nuts and peanut butter
    • Dried beans and lentils
    • Eggs
    • Liver
    • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Iron
  • Blood flow is boosted by iron which works with salt, potassium, and water. Taking an adequate amount of iron would mean that both you and your baby are getting the necessary amount of oxygen transferred into your bloodstreams. Your body produces extra red blood cells in the second half of pregnancy so that there are enough for both you and your unborn child. The centre of every red blood cell is made of iron. Your body is unable to produce iron, instead, it must be obtained through the foods you eat. Most green vegetables contain folate, which can be easily absorbed. You should consume 27 mg of iron daily, ideally with some vitamin C to boost absorption.

    Iron can be found in the following foods:

    • Dark green, leafy vegetables
    • Lean beef and poultry
    • Eggs
    • Enriched breads or cereals
    • Citrus fruits

    The Do's And Don'ts Of Food Intake During Pregnancy

    Ensure that you and your baby are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals by eating a variety of nutritious foods. A pregnancy nutrition plan isn't very different from a regular healthy eating plan, just a bit more intense. In fact, keep eating as you normally would during the first trimester. As your child grows, however, you should increase your daily calorie intake by 350 calories during the second trimester and 450 calories during the third trimester. Food that is freshly cooked or prepared is highly recommended.

    Foods that are beneficial to your health and the development of your foetus during pregnancy include:

    • Vegetables: Get vitamin A and potassium from vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach, cooked greens, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, red sweet peppers and carrots.

    • Fruits: You can get potassium from fruits including mangoes, apricots, cantaloupes, prunes, bananas, red or pink grapefruit, and honeydew.

    • Dairy: soymilk, skim or 1% milk, fat-free or low-fat yoghurts for a good dose of potassium, calcium as well as vitamins A and D.

    • Grains: Get essential iron and folic acid from cereals or cooked cereals.

    • Proteins: This includes beans and peas; nuts and seeds as well as all types of meat such as lean beef, salmon, trout, lamb, sardines, herring and pollock.

    Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

    Certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy as they may cause you to become ill or may be incompatible with your baby. It is essential that pregnant women know which foods they should avoid, while being extra cautious about what they eat when they're pregnant. Therefore, try to avoid overly processed junk foods like chips and soda as often as possible, as they provide hardly any nutritional value. This does not mean to say that you need to eliminate all of your favourite food from your diet during pregnancy, rather, make sure they're balanced with the essential nutrients to ensure that you don't miss any important vitamins and minerals.

    Here is a list of foods pregnant women should avoid consuming:

    • Avoid unpasteurized milk and different types of food made with unpasteurized milk such as soft cheeses, including camembert, queso blanco and fresco, feta, brie or blue-veined cheeses. Look for the label indicating that it was ‘made with pasteurised milk’.

    • Avoid eating hot dogs and luncheon meats unless they are served fresh off the grill or are well-cooked.

    • Do not consume raw or undercooked meat including raw eggs or seafood. Don't consume sushi that contains raw fish.

    • Spreads and pâtés that are kept refrigerated are not recommended.

    • Keep away from smoked seafood that has been kept refrigerated.

    Conclusion

    When a woman is pregnant, her body undergoes many physical and hormonal changes to sustain her and her growing foetus. Since the foetus's only source of food is the mother, the nutritional requirements of a pregnant mother increase dramatically. Consequently, eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy can contribute to good brain development, a healthy birth weight, and also reduce the risk of many birth defects.


    Receiving adequate nutrition during pregnancy prevents fatigue and other health complications that may arise in the future, such as osteoporosis. Ensure that you eat nourishing wholesome foods, and limit your intake of processed and fast foods that do not provide you with any nutritional value.