The food you eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding can affect the health outcomes of your child. This is because, during pregnancy, the body needs more nutrients to meet the needs of the mother and the unborn baby. For this reason, pregnant women often run into risks of inadequate nutrients. The risk is even higher in some classes of women like women who are on a special diet, women who smoke and women who are underweight or overweight/obese. Eating good foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding helps prevent the risk of diseases in a child as they grow older. At their early stage, good maternal nutrition ensures that the child gets all the required nutrients to form healthy tissues, organs and bones before they are born. It also provides a mother’s breast milk with all dietary requirements needed for the child’s development.
Nutrients for Pregnancy and Their Qualities
A healthy, normal-weight woman only needs a moderate calorie increase during pregnancy. Pregnant women are always advised to regulate their carbohydrate diets to avoid risk of weight gain. You can achieve a healthy caloric level by slightly increasing your protein and fatty foods intake. The world standard of caloric intake for pregnant women are:
1. 69 kcal per day for the first trimester.
2. 266 kcal per day for the second trimester.
3. 496 kcal/day in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Recommended supplement: Zileda Comprehensive Vitamin Soft Capsules for Pregnant Women——This supplement contains 21 different vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fatty acids (EPA&DHA) to provide mothers-to-be with the necessary nutrition to help their babies develop healthily.
A pregnant woman requires more protein during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. During this time, the fetus requires more protein synthesis to build tissues and maintain fetal growth. The average protein requirement for pregnant women are:
- 1 g of protein per day in the first trimester of pregnancy.
- 8 g of protein per day in the second trimester.
- 26 g of protein per day in the third trimester.
FAT (Omega 3)
Polyunsaturated fats, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are vital for infant development. DHA is a type of omega 3 fatty acid. DHA is essential for brain and retinal development of the fetus during pregnancy. Even after childbirth, the child requires high amounts of omega-3 acids in their breastmilk to enhance their brain and cognitive skills.
- Studies suggest that women take up to 100–200 mg DHA per day during pregnancy and lactation.
- Consuming 2-4 servings of fish per week during pregnancy ensures the proper development of your child.
Recommended supplement: Jamieson-High-efficiency DHA Omega + Ginger 100 soft capsules. Specially formulated for expectant mothers, the addition of ginger extract can prevent and relieve the discomfort caused by pregnancy. Each capsule contains 440mg Omega 3 fatty acids, which helps to promote the development of the baby's brain, eyes and nerves.
Iron is a micronutrient, and micronutrients constitute more of what should be eaten during pregnancy. Studies suggest that pregnant women require more iron during the third month of pregnancy. Iron plays an essential role in transferring oxygen to tissues. Unfortunately, iron deficiency is rampant in children between 6 and 36 months. Inadequate iron intake causes severe consequences like anaemia in pregnant women. This is why iron supplementation in pregnancy is often recommended to improve pregnancy.
- The global recommendations for iron intake levels start from 27 mg per day for pregnant women.
- You can also increase the intake of iron foods like Lean meat, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, and nuts.
- If the iron level in your blood becomes low, a midwife or specialist may advise you to take iron supplements to curb the deficiency.
Recommended supplement: Jamieson-Mild Iron Capsules——High-speed iron absorption formula suitable for adult mothers. Each 28mg iron capsule can maintain a healthy immune system and prevent iron deficiency.
Iodine helps babies build healthy organs and tissues. This nutrient also stimulates many metabolic processes that control heart, muscle and digestive functions, brain development and bone maintenance. Numerous studies have linked iodine deficiency to premature birth and brain development. Doctors also recommend that pregnant women should increase their iodine intake, especially after 12 weeks of pregnancy. During this period, fetal thyroid function requires more iodine.
- Fish and shellfish are major sources of iodine for pregnant women.
- Iodine is also found in vegetables and fruits. Milk, egg and meat are some other low sources of iodine.
- To prevent iodine deficiency, always use iodized salt and supplement your diet with adequate amounts of this mineral.
The fetus needs calcium to build tender bones, and after birth, the baby needs calcium to form strong teeth, bones and maintain bone mass into adulthood. Calcium deficiency is a major factor affecting children's health.
Note: Doctors advise pregnant women to take 50 mg of calcium daily until the eighteenth week of pregnancy before increasing intake up to 330 mg per day until childbirth.
Milk and derivatives remain the main sources of calcium. Examples of what you should eat during pregnancy to boost your calcium are:
- Milk, cheese and yogurt;
- Green leafy vegetables
- Soy drinks with calcium concentrate;
- Bread and flour fortified foods;
- Bones of fish, such as sardines and pilchards
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day. The skin supplies the body with vitamin D when exposed to adequate sunlight. Sometimes, seasonal factors may affect our supply of vitamin D and increase risk of a deficiency. Vitamin D helps regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. This function promotes growth of strong bones, teeth and healthy muscles.
- It is advised for pregnant women to engage in mild outdoor physical activities in the early hours of the day.
- Foods like are oily fish, eggs, and red meat are healthy sources of Vitamin D.
Folate plays a vital role in many metabolic processes in fetal cells. These chemical processes facilitate cell division and fetal development. Therefore, folic acid deficiency and congenitalnervous systemdefect related. In addition, taking folic acid supplements is relatively safe for pregnant women. Doctors recommend that pregnant women take folic acid supplements (up to 800mcg per day) two months before conception, and then need to take 400-600mcg of folic acid tablets per day during pregnancy.
Some food sources of folate include:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fruits (such as oranges)
Recommended supplement: Jamieson folic acid tablets 1000mcg- A high-quality choice that is vital to the health of pregnant women and fetuses. Taking 1000mcg of folic acid tablets helps fetal development and prevents congenitalnervous systemdefect.
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