Guidelines for Healthy Nutrition during Pregnancy

Maintaining proper guildlines for healthy nutrition in pregnancy periods are very crucial to enhance healthy growth and development of your baby. Understanding the concept of diet that is good for you and your baby and the one that you should avoid during pregnancy is a way of developing and maintaining healthy nutrition and balanced diet. Today’s article will be focused on the guidelines for healthy nutrition in pregnancy.

Nutrition in pregnancy

Nutrition in pregnancy are series of diet that are taken before, during and after pregnancy to ensure the delivery of a well nourished and healthy baby and also maintain the well-being of the mother. The food that are consumed by the mother during the period of pregnancy have impact on the growth, development and nourishment of the baby.
Poor nutrition and excessive intake of other food nutrients such as sodium can result into growth disorder in babies, elevation of the mother’s blood pressure and other pregnancy related health conditions.
Therefore it is important that pregnant women should moderately include the intake of food nutrients such as iron, folic acid, protein, calcium, vitamin a, Vitamin e, vitamin d and also avoid excessive intake of salt and caffeine so as to prevent complications that might arise from unhealthy nutrition during pregnancy.

Important nutrients that you require during pregnancy

The following are the nutrients as well as guidelines for maintaining a healthy nutrition during the period of pregnancy:

Iron

Iron helps to deliver oxygen to your baby through the red blood cells and you need a total of 27 milligrams (mg) per day during pregnancy. The food that are rich in iron include leafy vegetables, sardines, cashew, baked potato, red meat, peas and dried beans.

Calcium

Calcium is required by the body for strong bones, teeth and muscle formation, It is also important for the normal functioning of the heart and blood clotting. You need 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily during pregnancy. The source of calcium include dairy products like cheese and yoghurt, milk, fish, orange juice, bread, soya beans, leafy greens and nuts.

Folic acid

folic acid is highly important for the production of blood during pregnancy and you should aim for at least 600 micrograms of it so as to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. The food source of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, lentis, beans, nuts, eggs, peas and citrus fruits.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for good eyesight, healthy bones formation and skincare. It helps the proper functioning of the kidney, heart and lungs.You need 770 micrograms of vitamin A daily during pregnancy to maintain a healthy diet. The food source of vitamin A include milk, liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, grapes and lettuce.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is very crucial in the body to support the absorption of calcium which gives your baby a healthy strong bones and teeth, it is also good for healthy skin, good eyesight and a very strong immune system which resist series of infections than might affect the mother and her baby. During pregnancy you need 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D daily, the food source of vitamin d include exposure to sunlight, fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon, fortified milk, orange juice, cheese, egg yolk and beef liver.

Proteins

Protein is required for bodybuilding, repair of worn out tissues and development of other vital organs in the body. They are essential for strong bones, cartilage and muscles, blood production and healthy skin. Pregnant women require 75 to 100 g of protein daily during the period of their pregnancy and the food source of protein include meat, egg, fish, beans, soya beans, poultry, milk and seafood.

Iodines

This mineral is essential for healthy brain development of babies and body growth. You should consume 290 micrograms of iondines per day. The food that are rich in iodine include fish, seafood, cheese, milk, yoghurt and cereals.

Salt

Pregnant woman should eat salt moderately as excessive intake of salt can increase their blood pressure and lead to hypertension. High blood pressure in pregnant women can cause serious health complications for both mother and her baby if not well managed.

Is it safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy?

No, pregnant women should stay away from consuming drinks that contain alcohol as they can result into serious problems for both the mother and her baby and the common symptoms include stillbirth and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). The Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC) warnsthat no amount of alcohol is safe for pregnant women and they should avoid taking it as alcohol consumption can cause pregnancy disabilities and affect the baby.

Weight gain during pregnancy

Weight gain is also very important during pregnancy and it should be well monitored throughout pregnancy period by you and your doctor because too much weight gain or obesity can elevate your blood pressure and cause hypertension. Obesity in pregnancy can result into stillbirth, heart problems in baby, premature birth, infections in mother, insomnia and cesarean delivery.

Weight loss during pregnancy

losing weight during pregnancy can be beneficial especially in women that are obesed and it should be well managed and monitored by you and your healthcare provider. Pregnant women who have healthy weight should avoid weight loss as it can contribute to problems during pregnancy for them and their babies. Losing too much weight can increase your risk of low birth weight

What type of Foods are Beneficial for Consumption during Pregnancy?

The following foods will provide the nutrients as well as other health benefits that are required by you and your baby during pregnancy:

  • Fruits and vegetables : They are important source of vitamins, minerals and fibre that are essential for lungs, kidney and heart functions, good eyesight , healthy skin and strong bones and teeth of your baby . Examples of fruit and vegetables include pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes, cashew, grapes, pears, mangoes, blackberries , pineapples, leafy greens, apricot and blueberries.
  • Proteins : it is important for bodybuilding, good skin and development of other vital organs in your baby. Proteinous food that are good for pregnancy include beans, egg, nuts and seeds, sardines, lean meat, salmons and pork.
  • Grains : examples of grains that are beneficial during pregnancy include oatmeal, rice, barley, wheat and cornmeal.
  • Dairy products: examples include low-fat yoghurts and soyamilk.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

  • Fish with high mercury content: Mercury is an heavy metal that is mostly found in polluted cities and fish that are found in this region are not safe for consumption when you are pregnant. High mercury intake can compromise your immune system, damage vital organs and also cause deficiency in fetal development. Examples of high mercury fish include swordfish, mackerel, tuna and shark.
  • Raw eggs: avoid raw eggs and food that contains raw eggs such as salad dressings, poaches eggs and hollandaise sause as they might be contaminated with the infectious foodborne pathogens. Foodborne illness can cause health problems that will affect your pregnancy such as abdominal cramps, risk of ectopic pregnancy, nausea, vomiting, dehydration and body weakness.
  • Undercooked meat/ Raw meat: the consumption of raw and undercooked meat is totally unsafe when you are pregnant because they might have accumulated harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning such as E. coli and Salmonella. These bacteria are harmful to you and your baby and they might cause serious health problems to your baby such as stillbirth, blindness, cerebral palsy and low intelligence quotient.
  • Caffeine: the intake of caffeine should be reduced to the lowest level or totally avoided when you are pregnant because your baby lack the enzyme to metabolize them. High consumption of caffeine can result in to low birth weight, fetal growth retardment and heart disease
  • Unwashed fruit and vegetables: it is important to wash fruits and vegetables before consuming them because unwashed fruit and vegetables are prone to contaminations by infectious bacteria such as Salmonella, Bacillus cereus and E. coli. These bacteria are harmful to you and your baby as they can cause problem throughout pregnancy and also affect your babies eyesight, brain and other vital organs.
  • Unpasteurized milk and fruit juice : drinking unpasteurized milk and juice is very unhealthy when you are pregnant because they may contain harmful bacteria such as campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella and Bacillus cereus. Therefore drink milk and juice that has been pasteurized and freed from all bacteria that can threaten you and your baby’s health.

Importance of good nutrition in pregnancy

  • It reduces neural tube defects
  • It helps to reduce the risk of premature birth
  • It enhances healthy development of fetal brain
  • It ensures a healthy skin and good eyesight of your baby
  • It is essential for the development of strong bones, teeths and muscle
  • It reduces the risk of low birth weight
  • The practice of eating good food can also stimulate the production of blood that is needed by you and your baby
  • Healthy diet development reduces the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy

Therefore it is very important to make a good choice of nutrition during pregnancy period so that your baby can derive the best part of it and get nourished. Eat more of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and proteinous food. Avoid alcohol and excessive intake of salt, sugar and caffeine.

About Adebayo Taiwo

Adebayo Taiwo hails from Africa. He's a Microbiologist , Health Safety and Environment Specialist and a Health Advisor who is concerned about the well-being and healthy lifestyle of people around the globe. The health of my people is my pride.

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