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There’s many things that a woman needs to be concerned with when she becomes pregnant, and one is diet. Now she’s eating for two (or more).
Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is important for living well; however, now you have an extra incentive. Proper nutrition ensures that all essential nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and water) are supplied to the body to maintain optimal health. You need to make sure that you have the right nutrients to get yourself and your bundle of joy through what is a traumatic time for your body. You are creating life inside you, the least you can do is treat yourself well and give yourself the right kind of fuel to do your best.
During pregnancy, your energy and nutrition levels decrease. The pregnancy takes its toll on your body, depleting your fuel resources. You need to consume foods that will give you that boost so you have the energy reserves to optimize your overall health and strength. Did you know that women need to consume 240 more calories per day in their second trimester and 452 calories per day in their third trimester of pregnancy to enable healthy foetal growth? As well as 975 milligrams of iron needed to produce foetal and maternal blood? Having the right reserves of energy will help to ensure the mother’s strength and health through her pregnancy.
Need more incentive?
A well-balanced and nutritionally rich diet can help stave off health risks both for the mother and the child. A mother’s diet can play a larger role in foetal development than genetic factors. The foetus will respond to whatever you consume, meaning your child can adapt its metabolism to cope with an under-nourished diet. This can result in the foetus reducing glucose and insulin production, slowing the rate of growth and increasing the risk of low birth weight and can even lead to diabetes. Another side-effect of under-nutrition can be that the foetus will conserve blood flow to its most important parts – like the developing brain – depriving other major organs and muscles, which can go under-developed or not developed at all.
What can you do?
Some women are pre-disposed to have a less balanced diet based on their own health issues or dietary restrictions. If you are a woman who has conceived, or is hoping to conceive, you need to build up your nutrition levels. This can mean cutting out unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol, ingesting too much caffeine or not ingesting enough fruits and vegetables. If you suffer from a chronic illness which restricts your diet like IBS or Crohns disease, diabetes or food intolerances, speak to your health provider or nutritionist to organise an appropriate and nutritionally beneficial diet for you. I would suggest the same for vegan or vegetarian mothers, as pregnant women need an increased amount of protein in their diet. If you’re not getting it from meats or animal by-products you need to source it from another avenue. Supplements can help but it’s always more beneficial to have natural foods. For you and your baby.
You can do this
Pregnancy is a wonderful, illuminating and scary experience. Remember that no matter how scary or over-whelmed you get, women have been doing this since the human race came about. You are the next in a long line of courageous women who have continued the human race. This is the most natural thing in our history, all you need to do is play out your part. Look after yourself and your bundle of joy!
Orlaith Costello writes for Koster Clinic, she graduated with a Master Degree in Journalism, Media and Communications, and writes for several publications in Australia and abroad. Orlaith also writes about health and well-being including women's health and parenting in the hope that she helps others like her better understand the world around her.
Disclaimer: The above is general advice only and not intended as medical advice. You should not delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information in this article.