The Impact of Nutrition in Pregnancy
TheImpact of Nutrition in Pregnancy
TheImpact of Nutrition in Pregnancy
Nutritionin pregnancy is a very crucial topic due to the impact it has on thehealth of both a mother and a fetus from the point of conception toafter birth (Sethi,2014).In totality, nutrition in pregnancy looks into the dietary planningand intake by the mother and the child throughout the stages ofconception, pregnancy, and birth. When looked at in this manner, itis evident that the importance of a good nutrition by the motherbegins months before conception and ends after the period ofbreastfeeding has ended. This paper purports to discuss nutrition inpregnancy during these periods. As such, it will look into what agood nutrition is during these different periods and its impacts onboth the mother and the child. It will also show the impacts of notmanaging a good nutrition during these stages of pregnancy. In theend, the paper purports to give a good account of the nutritionalrequirements in pregnancy and the impacts of having or lacking suchto both the mother and the child.
Nutritionalintake by a mother or potential mother has great impacts on the stateof health of a newborn child. The dietary habits a woman practicesfor months before conception, throughout her pregnancy, and afterbirth during breastfeeding are vital to the health and survival ofthe child. While in pregnancy, the fetus is directly dependent on themother for any dietary intakes. As such, it is whatever the mother isable to consume that the child is going to be exposed to. This meansthat when the mother takes a healthy balanced diet, the nutritionalprovisions to the fetus will be the same. However, when a mothertakes harmful substances and neglects to have a nutritional diet planboth her and the fetus will suffer resulting in the birth of anunhealthy child. In the absence of observing a healthy nutritionalplan, health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, anemia, and variouscardiovascular diseases amongst others (Haider,Olofin, and Wang, 2013).It is vital to consider that most of these conditions may not show atbirth or younger ages of the child, but be expounded when they getmuch older later in life. In order to avoid a child with such healthconditions and complications, it is vital for another to ensure sheconfines herself to a healthy nutritional diet plan recommended forpregnancy months before conception to after breastfeeding. This willhave beneficial health effects on both the mother and the child.
Havinga bad nutrition during pregnancies includes taking in excess ofcertain nutrients, taking in less of certain nutrients, and taking ofunhealthy substances or those that have a negative impact on thestate of one’s health. Globally, it is estimated that over 25% ofbabies are born with lower than optimal body weights due to theimpacts of the mothers not adhering to proper pregnancy nutritiondietary plans before and after conception (Williamson,2006).Furthermore, more than 50% of children born are at one time oranother unable to attain the recommended weight increase over thefirst one year due to the lack of a proper nutritional intake. When amother takes in excess or less of the recommended nutrient intakesbefore, during, and after conception, they have a negative healthimpact on their child. Personal continued habits such as alcohol anddrugs intake, smoking, and addiction to caffeine also have anirreversible impact on the development and health of a baby. This isespecially crucial during the months prior to conception and theearly months of pregnancy when the fetus is under formation anddevelopment stages. At this stage is where such habits can lead tothe underdevelopment of the fetus resulting in a child with healthcomplications and disabilities.
Inat least six months prior to conception, it is vital for thepotential mother to adhere to a healthy dietary plan in preparationfor the fetus. This is because it will act as a detoxifying periodwhere harmful toxins and imbalanced nutrients in her body are removedand balanced out. When the body of the mother is the habitat of afetus, they become like one where anything and everything present inthe mother’s body translates to the fetus’ body. Duringpregnancy, the fetus will obtain all nutrients and vitamins requiredfor formation and development directly from the body composition ofthe mother. As such, in the event the mother’s body is intoxicatedwith harmful substances or an imbalance of nutrients then the samewill be translated to the fetus thus affect its development. Adheringto a healthy diet months before conception is most vital due to thedetoxifying effects it will have on the body making it healthy andready to support the healthy development of the child. It is vital tonote that such a detoxifying and preparation process of a potentialmother’s body takes a long period of time and is thus advised to bea life mission for every mother both for their health and that ofany potential children they will have in their lifetime. The longer awoman adheres to a proper nutritional diet plan the healthier herbody gets with time to support the development of a healthier fetus.
Inaddition to adhering to a balanced diet intake and avoiding harmfulsubstances such as alcohol, drugs, and smoking, a potential mothershould start taking several nutrient supplements months before theconception period. Folic acid, Iodine, and Vitamin D supplementationare amongst the most important at this stage. Folic acid can be foundin leafy vegetables and is vital to prevent spina bifida and neuraltube defects from developing in a fetus. In most pregnant womenIodine is normally found to be in fewer amounts (Sethi,2014).Its supplementation is vital to prevent cretinism, abnormal thyroidfunction, and mental development problems in a fetus. Vitamin D hasfor long been assumed to be in plenty due to sunlight. However, thisis not the case as most pregnant women have less and less amounts ofit as the pregnancy develops. Vitamin D supplementation is vital toensure the fetus will have normal bone development and prevention ofrickets. Other vital supplements include those of vitamin B12,docosahexaenoic acid, and iron. Docosahexaenoic acid can be found infood substances such as oily fish, flaxseeds, eggs, and pumpkin seedsamongst others (Jensen,2016).This is vital for a balanced weight development of a fetus. Iron inthe body is vital for the health and development of both the fetusand the placenta specifically, during the second and third pregnancytrimesters. Iron’s contribution to hemoglobin’s is also vital toprevent maternal hemorrhage which has been documented as big cause ofglobal maternal mortality. The intake of such supplements with aproper balanced diet nutrition before conception one can be assuredthe fetus will be provided with all the correct amounts of allrequired nutrients for formation and development. This shouldtranslate to a fully formed and healthy fetus.
Ahealthy diet and nutritional supplementation should be continuedafter conception and during the whole period of the pregnancy. In theearly stages of pregnancy, the placenta is not fully developed. Thismeans the fetus is obtaining nutrients directly from the mother’scirculation without any form of mechanism to protect it against thetransfer of any deficiencies. Due to this direct intake, it is vitalthat the mother takes the desired nutrients and in correct amounts.It is also vital they completely abstain from intakes of any harmfulsubstances such as alcohol and drugs as they too will be directlyshared with the fetus due to the lack of a developed placenta toassist sieve against such. In cases of mother observed to havenutritional challenges, iron, folic acid, and multiple micronutrientsupplements are recommended to ensure the proper development of thebaby (Haiderand Bhutta, 2015).These are vital to prevent against weight challenges and stillbirths. At this stage, neural tube birth defects in the child’sdevelopment can be prevented through supplementation of folic acids.Folic acid also plays a vital role in the formation of every humancell through governing the synthesis of the precursor of DNA. When afetus is exposed to folic acid deficiencies, it will be affected witheffective cellular growth and thus organ and physical development. Italso advised concentrating of fruits and leafy vegetable intakes.Zinc supplementation is also advised as vital in the prevention ofpreterm births. Calcium supplementation for women who have lowcalcium diets is found to be important in preventing preterm births,risks of preeclampsia, and strength development of the baby.
Duringpregnancy period it is vital to pay close attention to the foodintakes due to the impact they may have on the developing baby. Theintake of certain types of fish and soft cheese has been linked tooffering reduced exposure risks of the baby to bacteria such assalmonella or any harmful substances in the mothers’ body such asalcoholic substances. This occurs due to their effectivestrengthening of the functionalities of the already developedplacenta. Dietary vitamin A can be obtained in two forms retinolfrom some animal products such as liver and as carotene in vegetablesand fruits. Intakes of large retinol amounts such as throughexcessive liver consumption can lead to child abnormalities and birthdefects. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption at this stage isvery risky to the formation of fetal alcohol syndrome. Even whentaken in moderation, alcohol has risky effects to the child’smental development, and according to the world health organization itshould be completely avoided during pregnancy. Instead, one isadvised to have an increased intake of water to account for theincrease in placenta volume which 85% is water and development ofthe fetus which is 70-80% water (Williamson,2006).Increase in water intakes also refers to increased intakes of otherhealth fruits such as fresh juices which will offer both water andnutritional benefits.
Afterdelivery, the child now becomes detached from the mothers body. Theonly remaining connection is breastfeeding. Here, the child is fullydependent on the mother’s milk for nutrition. As such, the mothershould be able to provide the child with the required quantity ofmilk with the required quality in nutritional value. Proper nutritionafter delivery serves the vital function of the recovery of themother’s health and strength, and the assurance of enough andnutritional milk production for breastfeeding. The health of themother is of utmost importance at this stage because they are now thesole food source of another human being. This means not only having aproper diet and nutrient intake but also preventing themselves fromany risks of nutrient deficiency conditions. At this stage, a mothershould continue adhering to proper nutritional diet and large waterand fluids intake the human milk is consistent of 80% of water. Itis also vital to avoid alcoholic and drug substances which willaffect both the health of the mother and milk production in quantityand quality. According to Haider,Olofin, and Wang (2013),iron supplementation at this stage is advised to prevent thedevelopment of iron deficient anemia. A healthy mother with properdietary and nutritional intakes will translate to a proper and healthdevelopment of the child. When it reaches the point when the child isbeing weaned off milk, proper nutritional care is vital to ensurehealthy transition and development. This stage signifies a bigtransition for the child and thus proper care should be given tosupplement them of what they are going to lack from the continuedreduction in breastfeeding milk.
Haiderand Bhutta (2015) state that nutritionaleducation in pregnancy is a vital tool in ensuring healthynutritional practices in pregnancies. In nutritional health, thewhole society is educated on the recommended dietary intakes. It alsofocuses on special dietary and supplement education to special groupsin the society as pregnant women and those with specific healthconditions. Nutritional education is a vital part of nutrition inpregnancy as it ensures women are empowered to ensure their healthand that of their baby is secured. This is currently a recommendationof the world health organization for all health institutionsglobally. While most public health institutions offer this for free,it is also offered in consult at private medical institutions forthose who would like.
Monitoringnutrition in pregnancy is vital for the healthy development of boththe child and mother. It is a process that should be started monthsbefore conception and ideally recommended for a potential mother toadhere to it throughout the course of her lifetime. Nutrition inpregnancy looks into pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and post-pregnancyperiods where the fetus or baby is still dependent on the mother fornutrition. Adhering to a strict balanced diet is advised during theseperiods with the use of specific nutrient supplements. At all stages,different amounts of supplements such as folic acid, iron, calcium,vitamins D and B12 are recommended (Jensen,2016).These are vital for ensuring healthy formation and development of thefetus and baby preventing risks to conditions such as stillbirths,anemia, genetic defects, and neuro tube defects amongst others.Furthermore, alcohol intake, drugs, and smoking should be avoided atall stages of pregnancy to ensure none of their harmful substancesare passed onto the baby or affect its development. Nutrition inpregnancy is a vital monitoring process that is the responsibility ofthe mother and should be adhered to with strict nutritional educationand advice.
Haider,B. Olofin, I. and Wang, M (2013). "Anaemia, prenatal iron use,and risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes: systematic review andmeta-analysis." BritishMedical Journal.
Jensen,C. (2016). "Effects of n-3 fatty acids during pregnancy andlactation." TheAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83.
Haider,B. and Bhutta, Z. (2015). "Multiple-micronutrientsupplementation for women during pregnancy." TheCochrane database of systematic reviews, 11.
Sethi,K. (2014). "Iodine deficiency and development of brain".IndianPediatric journal, 71(4):325–9.
Williamson,C. (2006). "Nutrition in pregnancy." BritishNutrition Foundation, 31:28–59.
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