The importance of a pregnant woman’s nutrition is that she is the only source of fetal nutrition. What are the ideal nutrition rules for a pregnant woman? Get to know her in the next article.
During pregnancy, you may have a keen desire to eat pickles and cream; this is good if done mildly. But, remember, everything you eat during pregnancy affects the developing baby in your gut.
During pregnancy, you are the only source of nutrition for your child, and every food your child needs should be eaten. Only you can guarantee that your child has access to optimal food.
And you need to know which foods provide your fetus with the right nutrition.
The role of calories in the nutrition of pregnant women
The importance of nutrition for pregnant women is reflected in the fact that access to adequate energy is important for the growth and development of the fetus and for the mother’s ability to cope with stress, such as infection or bleeding attacks.
Additional energy is required during pregnancy to:
Production of new tissue in the fetus and in the mother
The new metabolism required by the new tissue
the increasing need for the energy required to move additional body mass during physical activity.
Because the woman’s body mass increases by 20% during pregnancy, strong motor activities require 20% extra energy. So, the total amount of calories is calculated to be about 80,000 calories—300 calories per day.
Energy requirements must be adjusted depending on the frequency and volume of the pregnant woman’s physical activity, and since energy consumption varies considerably, the optimal indicator of adequate intake is appropriate weight gain.
This relatively small increase in daily calories is important for proper pregnancy, and the additional calories required daily are equivalent to about one cup of ice cream or a piece of toast with cheese.
The increase in calories in the first half of pregnancy increases maternal fat, and deposited fat is an important energy stock that supports the growing needs for the conservation of the fetus, which grows rapidly in the last trimester of pregnancy.
The calories taken in the second half of pregnancy will support the pregnant mother’s increasing requirements for metabolism and physical activity, as well as the rapid development of the fetus.
The role of proteins in the nutrition of pregnant women
Proteins are one of the most important nutrients in pregnant women’s nutrition, as they provide the necessary growth element for body tissue, including a developing child, the placenta, and an increase in the size of the mother’s blood and the fluid surrounding the child.
During pregnancy, 3–4 protein meals are recommended daily, and meat, eggs, and other foods, such as legumes, are excellent sources of protein.
Fish are a good source of proteins and other foodstuffs, but fish contain mercury that can particularly harm the fetus’s nervous system, so it is preferable to reduce the amount of fish you eat while pregnant.
Fish intake guidance for pregnant women
The United States Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration Agency (FDA) recommend that pregnant women follow the following three guidelines within their nutrition:
Do not eat shark, swordfish, or mackerel, as these fish contain high levels of mercury.
Eat less than 12 ounces (2 average meals, 340 grams) each week of low-mercury fish:
The five most prevalent species of low-mercury fish are: shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
Beware when eating white tuna; it contains more mercury than canned light tuna, so reduce your white tuna intake to 6 ounces (one medium meal, or 170 grams).
Complex new tissue is produced during pregnancy at a rate greater than any other time in a woman’s life, and proteins are necessary for this purpose. But during pregnancy, the requirements of proteins cannot be separated from those of calories and nutrients.
Since energy needs are prioritized during pregnancy, proteins will be used to save energy if carbohydrates and fat are not consumed in sufficient quantities.
Recommendations for protein quotas for pregnant women
It is recommended that pregnant women take 70 grams of proteins per day, which is approximately 25 grams more than non-pregnant women per day. This is equivalent to:
16 ounces (equivalent to 453 grams) of yogurt.
or one ounce (equivalent to 28.35 g) of cheese.
or 3 ounces (equivalent to 85 grams) of meat.
Special dietary modifications are rarely needed to cope with this increase, as most Americans eat more than recommended amounts of proteins.
Carbohydrate feeding for pregnant women
Carbohydrates should make up the bulk of the calories you consume; they are the main source of energy in the body. There are two types of carbs:
simple or refined carbohydrates.
Complex or complete carbohydrates; the latter are whole grains.
Like glucose, it is ready for the body to use immediately and provides “instant energy”, examples of which include table sugar, honey bees, soup, fruit juices, and solid desserts (which can be useful in cases of nausea).
They are not nutritionally valuable, but they only add calories to our food.
Consisting of whole grains, potatoes, pulses, and beans, the body must break them down into simple carbohydrates before it can use them, so they supply a steady supply of energy over a period of time.
Starch-rich foods also offer fiber that accelerates digestion and helps keep it “regular.”
The role of minerals and vitamins in pregnant women’s health
It is no secret that vitamins and minerals are important for the health of the pregnant woman and the fetus. What is their specific role? What does it matter?
Calcium is of great importance in the nutrition of pregnant women, and it enters the composition of bones and teeth, mainly available in milk and dairy products, but broccoli and canned fish are also good sources of it as well.
Since most pregnant women eat only 75% of the recommended calcium amounts, you may need to increase the amounts of calcium-rich foods in your diet.
Cheese, yogurt, yogurt, and cream are good sources of calcium.
If you suffer from lactose intolerance (milk sugar), green leafy vegetables, canned salmon, and sardines (with their bones) are calcium-rich foods.
Calcium-rich foods can be added to pregnant women’s diets, such as orange juice.
Pregnant women are advised to eat four meals of calcium-rich foods daily. Many women may not meet their entire calcium needs via food alone. Therefore, calcium supplements may be recommended during pregnancy.
Iron requirements increase about twice as much as a pregnant woman’s nutrition, to 30 milligrams instead of 15 milligrams per day. The child and mother need more extra iron, due to:
Increase the size of the mother’s blood.
Support for postpartum requirements
Red meat, whole grains, bread, leafy grains, and vegetables are good sources of iron; the iron in meat is absorbed more efficiently. When eating iron-rich foods with vitamin C, iron absorption is stimulated.
Folic acid was found to be a vitamin dissolved in water.
It has great importance and affects the development of fetal cells.
Low levels of folic acid may be accompanied by birth defects in the neural tube and other negative consequences for pregnancy.
Research suggests that taking folic acid during the weeks before and after pregnancy may help prevent congenital neurological tube defects.
The United States public health authorities recommend that all pregnant women be provided with 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid per day, which may prevent exposure to this problem.
Since folic acid deficiency can affect the fetus early in pregnancy, women who plan to conceive must eat foods rich in folic acid. These include:
Vegetables with dark green leaves and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and peas).
Eating diverse foods from all food groups can meet the nutritional requirements of pregnancy for most ladies.
Ladies with a pre-pregnancy history of birth defects in the neural tube are recommended to take a treatment dose equivalent to 10 times that amount, or 4 milligrams, which requires a prescription from your doctor.
Vitamins are essential for maternal and child health. Vegetables and fruits are good sources of many vitamins, some rich in vitamin C and others containing vitamins A, B, E, minerals, and folic acid.
Although some B vitamins can be obtained from vegetables and fruits, the largest amount of B vitamins comes from meat, fish, dairy products, cereals, and coconuts.
By eating the right foods during your pregnancy, you will usually get the vitamins and nutrients (except iron, folic acid, and calcium) you need.
However, if your doctor considers that your food does not provide you with the nutrients you and your child need, perhaps she will prescribe supplements containing vitamins and minerals during pregnancy.
It is very necessary to pay attention to the need not to take large amounts of vitamins, as excess amounts of certain vitamins (such as vitamin A) can cause congenital defects.
Liquids and salt in the nutrition of pregnant women
During pregnancy, your blood and body fluids will almost double in size, so it is important to eat enough fluids; the recommended amount per day is 8–10 cups of water, juice, or milk.
If you suffer from minor swelling of the ankles, face, or fingers, do not reduce the amount of fluids you take, and while salts should not be taken excessively, they should not be avoided during pregnancy. Taking salts in moderation is important to the pregnant woman.