Trekking through the endless and mud-filled trenches of hedonism can be a tedious undertaking in life, but the bearing of a child is a ray of light and a fundamental milestone to tick off the bucket list. This is why many people do all they can to make sure their pregnancies are as smooth and their unborn babies are as healthy as possible. A balanced diet is the best way for women to get most of the nutrients they need before, during, and after pregnancy. However this might not be the case with many women who may come up short of these vitamins and minerals during their child bearing years, this may have a profound negative effect on the health of the mother and the unborn child. Here’s how to bridge important nutritional gaps for you and your unborn child. .
Primed for Pregnancy
There’s absolutely no reason to wait for a positive pregnancy test to improve your dietary intake prior to supporting a healthy pregnancy. There’s plenty you can do right now to help ensure your good health and that of your unborn child.
You should start pregnancy at the healthiest weight possible to give your child a better chance of proper development and to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, lean meats, and low-fat is the best approach to weight control before pregnancy. The diet of many women is low in several nutrients and this could prevent one from conceiving while in their best shape even when their weight fall in the normal weight range.
Folic acid, a B vitamin, helps to prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida ( A birth defect in which a developing baby’s spinal cord fails to develop properly) during the first thirty days of pregnancy. Fortified grains including bread, cereal and pasta provide the same form of folic acid that is found in dietary supplements.
Before and during pregnancy, women should avoid taking dietary supplements with more than 10,000 International Units (I.U.) of vitamin A. While vitamin A is beneficial for many reasons, excessive levels of preformed vitamin A (retinol) may cause birth defects. Look for a dietary supplement with the majority of vitamin A as beta-carotene.
Iron is another nutrient of concern for women in their childbearing years. While it’s important to be adequately nourished with an array of nutrients during pregnancy, iron stands out because suggested intakes increase significantly after conception.
Iron helps the body transport oxygen, prevent anemia and reduce the risk of preterm and low birth-weight in babies. No matter how balanced your diet is, it is difficult to get all the iron you need from ingested food alone hence supplementation is vital.
Suggested intake for all of the B vitamins, including folic acid, increase during pregnancy and these demands are typically met with a balanced diet, with the possible exception of vitamin B12. Women who avoid or skimp on animal foods may not get enough B12 and should rely on fortified plant foods and dietary supplements to meet their nutritional needs.
Iodine is a mineral involved in baby’s brain development. Iodized salt and seafood are rich in iodine.
Seafood is also a source of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fat, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), helps to support your child’s brain and visual development during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and in the first few years of life. For this reason and others, pregnant and nursing women should eat fish at least twice weekly. If you don’t eat the recommend amount of fish, omega-3 supplements can be of great help in filling this gap.
>Calcium & Vitamin D
You would think that the suggested intakes for all nutrients would increase during pregnancy, but that’s not true for calcium and vitamin D. However, many women don’t consume enough of these bone-building nutrients before they conceive, and may not get enough during pregnancy. Calcium is necessary to build baby’s bones and teeth, and to maintain the strength of mom’s skeleton. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium in the body.
Vitamin-D fortified milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. However, while three eight-ounce glasses of milk supplies adequate calcium for pregnancy, you’d need to drink six glasses to satisfy the suggested vitamin D intake. If you don’t eat at least three servings of dairy or calcium-fortified foods daily, you may need extra calcium. Most dietary supplements supply the majority of the vitamin D suggested during pregnancy, and food can only add to that.
>After the baby arrives
Once you deliver, your body begins to gradually return to its normal state before pregnancy. If you’re breastfeeding, you need to take extra care of yourself during this time.
Eating right provides you with the fuel and nutrients you need to recover from the effects of pregnancy, but you may skimp on healthy foods because you’re busy. You should try as much as possible, to eat nutritious meals and snacks because nutrition is a high priority for breastfeeding mothers. In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, diet determines the quality and quantity of breast milk. Some nutritional needs, including those for vitamins A and E, certain B vitamins, vitamin C, and iodine, are actually higher during breastfeeding than during pregnancy.
If breast milk isn’t sufficient in supplying the much needed nutrients for example when it’s low vitamin D, all babies, including those that are exclusively breastfed should consume 400 International Units (I.U.) of vitamin D daily from the first days of life to help prevent rickets, a bone-weakening disease.
Whether breastfeeding or not, finish the remainder of your daily vitamins, along with other necessary supplements such as calcium. When your prenatal supplements are gone, start taking a daily multivitamin designed for women under age fifty to sufficiently supply your nutritional needs.