PREGNANCY is all about -
These things will remind every mother reading this, her days of pregnancy, her days of blessing. These days have also left some unwanted and unforgettable memories in a few mothers. Some memories in their mind and for some on their body. Yes, you read it right.
The memories and the thoughts of being hungry, nauseous, tired, can’t sleep, terrified, thrilled, anxious, pregnant and all those tantrums which made your 9 months of pregnancy a miserable time leaving you with gestational diabetes, anemic, hypertension, thyroid hormone imbalances, c-section, underweight baby, loss of blood from the mother, hospitalizations, baby born with defects, sudden abortions and in some worst case scenario, death of the baby.
Most of these scenarios could have been and can be avoided by taking your pregnancy not just as a blessing, and for some who take it as a disease, but also as a responsibility. Coming to responsibility, many of the men out there might be avoiding the reading of this section by assuming that, pregnancy is all about ladies. The responsibility of the successful pregnancy and this piece of reading is also for every man out there whose mother, sister, friend, colleague, wife, and neighbor and also daughter will be pregnant someday. By gaining the knowledge on how to have a healthy pregnancy and the maximum outcome of it will ensure that such above mentioned scenarios can be avoided to a great extent and that can be achieved by eating right before and during the pregnancy. Pregnancy is not about just those 9 months, it’s all about giving birth to a new life, for which your body needs preparation way before time by eating right, taking the right supplements and adopting the right activities.
The woman who enters pregnancy with full nutrient stores, sound eating habits, and a healthy body weight has done much to ensure an optimal pregnancy outcome. Then, during pregnancy itself, if she eats a variety of nutrient-dense foods, her own and her infants health will benefit further. And the infants, who are well nourished in the womb, have an enhanced chance of entering life in good physical and mental health. The effects of under nutrition during reproduction will vary depending upon the nutrients involved, the length of time it is lacking and the stage of gestation at which it occurs. If women are underweight before pregnancy, with poor nutritional status, lead to Low Birth weight infants, premature spontaneous rupture of membranes, infection and anemia.
Ever imagined how all this happens? Right from early stages when the embryo is just about 2 inches long to a fetus growing at a tremendous pace increasing in size and weight from mere 15grams to 2700grams around the 40th week. To support this rapid growth, which includes formation of bone, production of blood, building of muscles, brain, other tissues, the fetus solely depends upon the nutrients supplied by the mother and the mother can supply all these nutrients adequately when she is on a good nutrition regimen giving the body all the required vitamins and minerals and facilitating their better absorption with the right combination.
We have always heard about our ancestors asking us to eat more during pregnancy, as the mother is the only source from where the growing baby can acquire all the nutrients for proper growth. Well, all they meant is eating energy dense foods rich in proteins, fats, carbohydrates and the vitamins and minerals which have their own roles to play in the protection of the mother and in the development of the baby.
ENERGY – we need more energy dense foods during pregnancy for
PROTEIN - Extra protein is required during pregnancy for
If protein requirement are not met during pregnancy:
FATS: The requirement of fats in the form of EFA’s are very high during pregnancy as these are very essential to the formation of new tissues. A pregnant woman’s diet should contain minimum 20% of fat. These fats relax muscles and blood vessels of the uterus and makes delivery easier. Lack of fats in diet adversely affects pregnancy outcome. Hence, dietary intake of these is very vital during pregnancy as these are also important for neural development and growth. Fatty acids rich sources are oils, ghee, walnuts, fish, peanuts, meat, eggs.
CALCIUM: The requirement of calcium doubles during pregnancy.
VITAMIN D: this vitamin is very important as it is required for maternal calcium absorption. Deficiency during pregnancy results in neonatal hypocalcemia and hypoplasia. Excess Vitamin D results in complications like atherosclerosis, hypercalcemia, calcium deposit in organs and mental retardation in infants. Exposure to sunlight is usually sufficient to provide the recommended amount of Vitamin D during pregnancy. Vitamin D and calcium are also useful to reduce muscular cramps in pregnancy.
VITAMIN B9 (FOLIC ACID): We all have known about the folic acid supplements during pregnancy and in some cases, even before we got pregnant but, little did we know about its work and the food which can provide us with folic acid and help us overcome the deficiency.
IRON: There is an increased requirement of Iron during pregnancy.
VITAMIN C: The antioxidant vitamin we all have known about, taking in the form of green tea, supplements, citrus fruits etc.
SODIUM: We have all known about the unusual cravings during pregnancy occurring due to the hormonal and biochemical changes. Craving for foods like pickles, papads, chaat, fried foods with the fear of suffering from hypertension during pregnancy which usually occurs due to excess intake of sodium commonly known as salt. The fear is so much that some ladies during pregnancy restrict their intake of salt completely or to less than required.
ZINC: Zinc deficiency during pregnancy adds to the risk of LBW infants and also risk of preterm delivery. Zinc deficiency post-delivery during nursing leads to fetal mortality and malformations.
VITAMIN A: Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy leads to night blindness, severe anemia and preterm deliveries in mother. Low retinol also leads to systolic hypertension.
VITAMIN K: Vitamin K produces prothrombin, needed for the normal coagulation of blood, needed to prevent neonatal haemorrhage.
WATER SOLUBLE VITAMINS: As these set of vitamins are not stored in the body, they need to be supplied every day to the body through our diet. These vitamins can be acquired by all the kinds of vegetables and fruits, etc. A few of them are explained here.
THIAMINE: thiamine during pregnancy helps to relieve the nausea of pregnancy.
RIBOFLAVIN: Low riboflavin may lead to skeletal malformations like shortening of bones and fusion of ribs.
VITAMIN B6: Low Vitamin B6 results in high blood pressure, oedema and proteinuria during pregnancy. Also helps in controlling nausea during pregnancy.
ALCOHOL: Alcohol consumption for anyone is not good. Just imagine about its effects when consumed during pregnancy.
CAFFEINE: Tea or coffee first thing in the morning is bad for one’s health is known to all. But, excess of it during pregnancy has its own consequences to offer. More than 3 cups of caffeine a day lead to low birth weight infants and also spontaneous abortion.
Even after people know so much about good foods and nutrition during pregnancy, they still tend to avoid for the various reasons known to them. When not eating adequately, she supplies nutrients to the baby in the womb by withdrawing them from the tissues of her own body. This tissue depletion weakens her so much that she is unable to cope with the stress and strain of child bearing. Weight gain during pregnancy is ok, it’s ok to be fat in the normal range, but its not ok to deprive yourself of the nutrition and not taking care.
Frequent visits to a family doctor and mainly a nutritionist will enable the pregnant woman to learn what she should eat to safeguard her health as well as for an uneventful pregnancy and deliver an strong and healthy baby.
So, just make healthy choices for your baby, visit a nutritionist to know the requirements of your body and the baby growing in it and always remember “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined because you have a beautiful and healthy soul growing within you, so the best way to keep your baby healthy is to keep yourself healthy.”