A Pregnant woman’s health condition is measured from her health status that showed before her pregnancy, and early health status will also help the unborn child and the mother to become healthy during pregnancy and after the delivery.
Many factors affect the state of the health condition of the mother and the conceived child, such as diet, occupation, medical history, parity, medications, socioeconomic status, genetic endowment, and lifestyle.
When To Start Taking Supplements
The traditional way of approaching a healthy pregnancy is to have enough nutrition and care during pregnancy; however, new researchers have found that the future mothers should be prepared for their pregnancy from the time they decide to have a baby.
After conceiving, it will take one month or more to be aware of the pregnancy, but, the baby’s organs start to develop many weeks earlier than that and an essential period of fetal growth is missed out if you do not pay attention to your preconception care.
The planning that you have for the preparation of pregnancy contains nutritional balancing in which your diet plays a significant role.
These supplements contain multivitamins with minerals to reduce any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Also, it contains fish oil in order to build stores of essential fatty acids before your pregnancy.
It is advised to avoid smoking, caffeine, and alcohol while you are pregnant. And you have to be aware of the medication that you are taking are safe for a healthy pregnancy or not.
For this, you have to seek your doctor’s advice. The body weight is also very important to have an average body weight before your pregnancy.
A woman’s nutritional needs will increase during pregnancy to nourish growing fetus and as well as herself. This is because what you consume during pregnancy is the only source of energy for you and your conceived child. And also, your body needs more energy to create new organs, to maintain the metabolism and to form an entirely new human being inside your womb.
This extra nutrition intake is not only useful for your baby that grows, but also for your body growth; the breasts, the abdomen and also the internal organs such as uterus grow in size.
Nutrients That You Need
Most crucial nutritional components include protein, lipids and fats, carbohydrates, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, minerals, and fibers.
There is an old statement that says “pregnant mothers should eat for two”. Because of this statement, most mothers tend to eat double the amount of food to gain extra calories, but to take the necessary extra calories in pregnancy can be easily obtained by adding several snacks throughout the day.
Without eating large meals two or three times a day, you can have small snack or two throughout the day and consume smaller meals several times per day. This can fill your body’s calorie requirements.
Proteins are important for healthy fetal development, and they are the key elements of enzymes, hormones, muscles, immunity, and collagen. Fats are other essential nutrients that are used for baby’s growth inside the mother’s womb.
The essential lipids include sterols, phospholipids, triglycerides and omega three fatty acids. These lipids are important to form the cell membranes, hormones, and body tissues. Omega 3 fatty acids help in developing proper eye functions and cognitive abilities.
The amount of Omega 3 consumed during pregnancy can even determine the IQ level of a child in his childhood as well as in adulthood, and also Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats are responsible for producing immune precursors, body’s defense agents and in keeping the inflammation of the body at a low level.
A mother needs to take carbohydrates for the growth and development of the fetus, and also mother needs the energy to bear the unborn child in her womb. It is necessary that pregnant women should maintain a constant supply of glucose for the well-being of the fetus.
Vitamin D is very important for the growing fetus. It plays a major role in preventing chronic diseases such as cancers, heart diseases, immune disorders, osteoporosis and type 1 diabetes mellitus. Vitamin D also helps to ensure the growth of strong bones in the fetus.
Vitamin A is essential for the growth, development of a healthy vision, protein production and cell differentiation of fetus.
It is considered to have vitamin B complex for the women who are of the childbearing age. Especially folate and B12 is used during pregnancy because they play a major role in fetal development and preventing serious birth defects. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of red blood cells and to maintain a healthy sensory nervous system.
A lack of vitamin B12 in pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause neurological damages in the growing child. A deficiency of vitamin D in the early stage of pregnancy can cause neural tube defects in the baby leading to pre-term delivery. Folate, known as folic acid is necessary for fetal growth.
This must be given before and after your pregnancy. Folic acid is important for all women who are ready for their pregnancy. Fibers in food will help the mother by reducing constipation, which is a common side effect of pregnancy.
Minerals that are important for pregnant women are calcium, iodine, and iron. Calcium is more important for the mother than the child as it prevents the loss of her bone density. Calcium that is necessary for baby’s bone growth is supplied by the circulating calcium in the mother’s blood.
But, if there isn’t enough calcium in the mother’s blood, this calcium is extracted from her bones, which might reduce her bone density.
Iodine is crucial for a woman’s healthy thyroid function during pregnancy, and any deficiency in iodine can cause stunted physical growth, severe mental disability, and deafness. Also, insufficient iodine can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Iron helps the mom and the baby to carry oxygen through the blood.
Dr. Nuwanthi Fernando, MD
Member of the European Medical Writer’s Association