Nutrition for pregnant women

Natalie Roberto Research Paper: Child Development Nutrition “Must-Knows” for Pregnant Women The single most important thing that you can do for your baby is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. A well-balanced diet is one that includes foods from all food groups in appropriate amounts, to ensure proper nutrition. One of the most important times to be healthy is the time before and during pregnancy. Pregnant women should know what to eat, what not to eat, and the vitamins and minerals that are needed. While pregnancy is a normal alternative condition for the female body, all nutritional essentials need to be met.

For a healthy pregnancy, the mother’s diet needs to be balanced and nutritious – this involves the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and consuming a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. A woman should aim for five portions of fruit and/or veggies per day. They may be in the form of juice, dried, canned, frozen, or fresh. Fresh and frozen fruits usually have a higher vitamin nutrient content. Fruit regulates bowels and helps to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids during pregnancy (MayoClinic. com: Pregnancy Nutrition: Healthy-Eating Basics).

The vitamin C in fruits are crucial for the baby’s bones and teeth, as well as the collagen in the baby’s connective tissue. It is important to have a healthy daily intake of calcium. Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese, milk and yogurt are rich in calcium. During pregnancy, the developing baby drains the mother of many resources, including calcium. Your baby needs as much calcium as possible for proper growth and development of bones, muscles and blood clotting abilities. For these essential needs to be met, the baby starts pulling the calcium from your body.

Lastly animal-sourced proteins include fish, lean meat and chicken, as well as eggs are needed too. These proteins are essential for your baby’s brain growth along with aiding in muscle growth and repair. The World Health Organization recommends that a pregnant woman eat a minimum of 75 grams of protein per day. Protein is much easier for the woman and the baby to digest and does a lot of work on the immune system to keep both the baby and the woman healthy. The food pyramid is an excellent food guideline plan that all pregnant women should follow to aintain a healthy lifestyle for the baby and her. Another part of keeping of with the proper nutrition for a healthy baby when pregnant is to know what foods to avoid. Taking in high doses of caffeine daily during pregnancy – whether from coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, or energy drinks – has long been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. A 2008 study from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research confirms this study. The study found that women who consumed 200 milligrams or more of caffeine per day had twice the miscarriage risk as women who consumed no caffeine.

Caffeine constricts the blood vessels that can reduce the blood supply to the baby affecting the height and weight of the baby. It is also best to avoid soft cheeses during pregnancy. They may be unpasteurized and contaminated with listeria – bacteria that can trigger food poisoning. These soft cheeses have a high fear factor because they’re not aged, like cheddar or Parmesan, where the process kills bacteria naturally, says Hope Ricciotti, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School.

Listeria can cause a food-borne illness called listeriosis, which is extremely dangerous for a pregnant women and her unborn baby. Listeriosis can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, and fetal death. A pregnant woman is more prone to Listeriosis because of the normal pregnancy changes that affect the immune system. Lastly, the most important to thing to never ever do while pregnant is to intake any alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states that there’s no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.

If the pregnant woman drinks, the baby drinks too. Women who drink frequently or heavily put their unborn baby at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which has effects ranging from mild to severe learning disabilities, physical abnormalities, and disorders of the central nervous system. More than half of women who drink while pregnant will more than likely have a child with mental retardation. While there are many beneficial foods/drinks that are needed during pregnancy, there are many that should never be consumed during the months of carrying a baby.

It may be hard for some pregnant woman to get enough vitamins and minerals in their foods so it is often helpful to take supplements. Pregnant women often take a prenatal vitamin. It contains folic acid and important nutrients needed during pregnancy. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord of the baby. It may also protect the pregnant woman against cancer and stroke. Iron is another important nutrient for pregnant women. It also can be found in prenatal vitamins. Iron helps the muscles in both mother and baby develop.

It helps prevent anemia, a condition in which a woman’s red blood cells are too small and too few. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body and to the baby. Iron can also lower the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Getting enough iron becomes especially important in the second and third trimesters, when maternal blood volume increases and the fetus begins to store the mineral for the first few months after birth. A shortage of iron can leave an expectant mom tired, pale, and infection-prone.

The National Academy of Sciences currently recommends that pregnant women get 5 micrograms of vitamin D each day if they’re not exposed to adequate sunlight (your body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun). The pregnant woman’s body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. Many vitamins are essential to the baby’s proper development.

In conclusion, a healthy and balanced diet both before and during pregnancy is of great importance to the carrier and the baby. A healthy mom and healthy baby is the goal for every pregnancy. To ensure a healthy baby, women need to know the proper foods to intake, what to never eat, and the proper vitamins that are essential to both the growing bodies of the woman and baby. “A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years, and in your heart till the day you die” (Mary Mason).

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