What is Maternal Nutrition?
Maternal nutrition during pregnancy and health of the offspring. The ability of a mother to provide nutrients and oxygen for her baby is a critical factor for fetal health and its survival. Improvement of maternal nutrition during pregnancy is of key importance to improve the health of both mother & baby and failure in supplying the adequate amount of nutrients to meet fetal demand can lead to fetal malnutrition.
Importance of Maternal Nutrition
The energy, proteins and nutrients in human milk come from the diet as well as maternal body stores. Women that do not obtain sufficient nutrients from dietary sources may be at risk of deficiency in some minerals and vitamins that perform important functions.
When should I start making healthy food choices?
Ideally, making healthy food choices should begin in the months prior to conception; however, for some women, as soon as she finds out she is pregnant, it is important that you make sure her diet is as good as it can be.
What should I consume before pregnancy?
Folic acid supplementation is recommended prior to conception, to prevent the development of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. It should be taken as at least 0.4 mg/day throughout the first trimester of pregnancy, 0.6 mg/day through the pregnancy, and 0.5 mg/day while breastfeeding in addition to eating foods rich in folic acid such as green leafy vegetables.
Iodine levels are frequently too low in pregnant women, and iodine is necessary for normal thyroid function and mental development of the fetus, even cretinism. Pregnant women should take prenatal vitamins containing iodine.
Vitamin D levels vary with exposure to sunlight.
A large number of pregnant women have been found to have low levels of vitamin B12, but supplementation has not yet been shown to improve pregnancy outcome or the health of the newborn.
Iron is needed for the healthy growth of the fetus and placenta, especially during the second and third trimesters. It is also essential before pregnancy for the production of haemoglobin.
Nutrition during pregnancy
Eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy is linked to good fetal brain development, a healthy birth weight, and it reduces the risk of many birth defects. A balanced diet will also reduce the risks of anaemia as well as other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness. Good nutrition is thought to help balance mood swings and it may improve labour and delivery as well.
A well-balanced pregnancy diet includes:
- vitamin C
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- iron-rich foods
- adequate fat
- folic acid
You can also take prenatal vitamins, they can provide the extra nutrition that the developing fetus needs.
Weight gain and control
A simple way to satisfy your nutritional needs during pregnancy is to eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups every day. It’s important to discuss and monitor your weight and nutritional needs with your doctor throughout the pregnancy. Weight gain recommendations will vary for women who are underweight before conceiving, for those who are obese, and for those with multiple pregnancies, such as twins.
Aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging, and swimming, stimulate the heart and lungs as well as muscle and joint activity, which help to process and utilize oxygen. Aerobic activity also improves circulation and increases muscle tone and strength.
What should I not consume?
Do not consume anything that is not pasteurized and thoroughly heated. Also raw food too.
- Healthline. Healthy Pregnancy. Accessed on 16th October 2018.