Nutrition During Pregnancy

The survival of your baby depends wholly on your well-being. Through the placenta, all the essential substances including food and oxygen are transferred to the fetus. Hence, your baby is affected by anything that happens to you. Caring for yourself by having a nutritious diet, adequate exercise, and feeding your mind with positive thoughts would result in a problem-free pregnancy and a healthy baby. By the fourth month of pregnancy, you appetite will increase noticeably. You may be feeling hungry all the time because of the increased metabolism of you and your baby. However, being pregnant is not an excuse to overeat. As your doctor might have told you, gaining too much weight may cause complications such as high-blood pressure and a difficult delivery. You still have to watch your weight even as you ensure that you and your baby are getting sufficient nutrition. An average of 500 additional calories a day will be enough. Remember that you cannot eat everything that comes to mind. Taking several small and nutritious meals throughout the day is more advisable than having just one high-calorie meal. As the baby in your womb grows, some parts of your digestive system are pressed, making it difficult for the system to function as efficiently as when your belly is still empty. Hence, eating more than the average amount is not healthy. To facilitate digestion, just take light meals or snacks (but no junk food!) when you get hungry.

Foods to Avoid – Foods that are less cooked and half-raw contain the highest nutritional value. Eat fresh fruits and don’t overcook vegetables. Make sure, though, that they are properly washed first to remove dirt that may contain harmful bacteria. Avoid eating foods high in additives and preservatives and mixed with food coloring. These contain chemical substances that are not good for your health. Lower your sugar intake, especially if you have diabetes. Avoid love calories drinks; they may contain harmful additives. Fresh fruits drinks are best. High-acid drinks like coffee, and cola affect the digestive system. They also contain caffeine, which is not good for you and your baby’s health. Some food like raw eggs, meat and certain kinds of cheese may contain dangerous bacteria. Half-cooked meat may contain parasite-like toxoplasma, which may contain dangerous to your baby. Meat and eggs should be cooked well.

Special Nutritional Requirements

  1. FOLATE – A member of the vitamin B family, folate is essential to the formation of red blood cells. Research has shown that taking a high amount of folate reduces the risk of birth defects in the brain and spine. Neural birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly can be prevented if the proper amount of folate is present in your diet. AS mentioned, folate can be found in green leafy vegetables, liver and beans.
  2. IRON – Extra iron means more hemoglobin, which can increase the number of red blood cells. The more hemoglobin your blood contains, the more oxygen your baby will receive through the placenta. Iron-deficient women often suffer anemia which causes tiredness, fainting, and paleness. Thus, iron deficiency during pregnancy may put the baby at risk. If you cannot get sufficient iron from foods, ask your doctor to prescribe an iron supplement tablet.
  3. CALCIUM – This is essential for building string, healthy bones and teeth. Drink high-calcium milk (although any kind of milk contains calcium) and eat more dairy products (such as cheese) to prevent bone loss and reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis as you get older.
  4. FIBERS and FLUIDS - as pregnancy takes its course, some women may complain about constipation. To ensure good digestion and smooth bowel movement, take a high-fiber diet and drink plenty of fluids. Vegetables and fruit drinks contain fibers that sweep away wastes from the digestive system.

A balanced diet is one that is rich in vitamins and minerals but low in fat. Some of the best sources of essential nutrients are:

    • Meat, fish, eggs, bean curd, and nuts. These are rich in proteins
    • Dairy products. These include milk and milk products such as cheese, butter, yogurt, etc.
    • Grains and cereals. Such as rice, corn, pasta, bread, wheat, barley, etc.
    • Fruits. These are better when fresh or frozen. Canned fruits in heavy syrup is not recommended because it contains more sugar and calories
    • Vegetables. Fresh and frozen are recommended. Do not overcook because that may reduce the nutritional value.
    • Water should be purified, distilled, or boiled to reduce the presence of amoeba and certain bacteria.

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