Before heading into the details, I would like to put an emphasis on the importance of nutrition during pregnancy. Throughout the life cycle, energy needs and overall cellular functions for an individual remain the same, but particular life stages — such as infancy, pregnancy, or elderly — result in different requirements for specific nutrients in addition to distinct health risks and metabolic changes. During pregnancy, in particular, maintaining an adequate diet is essential for the well-being of the mother and her unborn child. It is crucial to be aware of the bidirectional relationship that exists between the mother and her child. This indicates that a mother depends on her child just as much as her child depends on her. Therefore, any sign of malnutrition throughout pregnancy and later on, can have lasting effects on both individuals. So, now we can discuss how you can avoid malnourishment and carry out a safe, nutritious pregnancy.
The key to a nutritious diet throughout pregnancy is being aware of the essential nutrients required. Similar to any individual, pregnant women need to consume a balanced and adequate diet containing, whole grains, lean protein, essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Although there are many factors that tie into the exact amount of nutrients necessary to meet a specific individual’s needs, simply maintaining a diet rich in all the food groups previously mentioned will increase your chances of meeting your required nutritional needs. In Figure 2, shown above we can see four of the main nutrients that are extremely important throughout the course of pregnancy. In fact, iron is the most common deficient nutrient found in women who are pregnant, therefore taking an iron supplement or 27 mg per day during pregnancy is highly encouraged. Similarly, folate has also been found to be in great deficiency among pregnant women, so it is recommended that about 600 ug be consumed per day as well in order to avoid deficiency diseases to the unborn baby. Lastly, as seen above calcium is an essential mineral needed throughout pregnancy in order to help bone mineralization of the baby. Approximately, 1000 mg of calcium intake is recommended per day. As mentioned, higher amount of certain nutrients are needed in pregnancy in order to meet the mother’s and child’s nutritional standards.
In addition to following a nutritious dietary pattern, being aware of the high risk of foodborne ilnesses faced by pregnant women is important. Pregnant woman are more prone to facing foodborne ilnesses due to the fact that there immune systems are being altered, therefor causing a low resistance to certain diseases that could potentially effect a mother and her unborn child. In order to avoid such illnesses, it is important to follow food safety when preparing your diet or cooking. Food safety includes steps like, washing your hands, maintaining raw meat, poultry, or seafood separate from ready to eat foods, as well as washing all utensils and making sure that all meals are thoroughly cooked.
In essence, as long as you become aware of the nutritional requirements needed throughout pregnancy, what vitamins and minerals are the most deficient in pregnant mother, and how to follow food safety precautions to avoid food borne illnesses, you should be glad that you have a much higher probablility of carrying out a successful pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy, beatiful child.
Below is a link to more information on foodborne ilnesses: