Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 3, Tuesday January 15, 2008




Nutrition for expecting mothers

IT is very important that an expecting mother eats right. Nutrition during the foetal stage of the soon-to-be-born, plays a profound impact on the neonatal health of the child. It is only a myth that a mother should eat double, for her and the baby. What is true is that during pregnancy a woman has to provide good nutrition for two individuals.

The growing baby gets all its nourishment from its mother. If the mother is lacking in any nutrients her baby might lack them too.

In the first few weeks her appetite may fall dramatically and she may not feel like eating proper meals, especially if she suffers from nausea and sickness. During the middle part of her pregnancy, her appetite may be the same as before while towards the end of her pregnancy, her appetite will probably increase. The best and wise way to follow would be to eat when she feels hungry. It's important to remember that the developing baby needs regular sustenance, so try not to miss meals. Even if you're not feeling hungry, chances are your baby is, so it's wise to eat every four hours.

Tiredness can be a major problem at this stage of pregnancy, and getting up in the morning even to go to work may be almost impossible. One may feel nauseous too, and the last thing on the mind is a healthy breakfast. However, it important for you and your growing baby that you don't skip breakfast altogether.

Here are some tried and tested tips to deal with nausea to help you:

Keep plain biscuits or toast biscuit or crackers by your bed and nibble one or two before getting up

When you feel sick, sip a ginger-based drink, such as ginger ale or a cup of hot water with a slice of fresh ginger

Eat small, bland snacks between meals

If the smell of food makes you feel worse, ask someone else to cook, or make and freeze extra portions of meals when you feel better.

Your baby needs a good supply of vitamin D and calcium to help make healthy teeth and bones. Fish is the main dietary source of Vitamin D. Eggs are a good source too. Moderate exposure to the sun also generates Vitamin D. Calcium is important not only for nerve transmission but also muscle contraction, healthy teeth and bones. Most women nineteen and older - including those who are pregnant-often don't get the daily 1000 mg of calcium that's recommended. Make sure that you are eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, especially dairy foods and canned fish with bones. Almonds, cheese, chickpeas, milk, tofu, spinach, yogurt, dark green vegetables, sesame seeds are also rich sources of calcium.

By around week 14, your baby's thyroid gland starts to function, and starts to make its own hormones. The thyroid gland needs iodine to work properly. Seafood such as fish, prawns, salmon, sardines, seaweed and trout are good sources of iodine. The body needs more protein at this time. Iron is also very important and good sources of iron include pulses, bread, green vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals red meat, poultry, salmon, eggs, dried beans and peas, dried fruits, leafy green vegetables, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals.

A pregnant woman needs 27 to 30 mg of iron every day. Iron is needed to make haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of blood cells. A daily intake of vitamin C ensures better absorption of iron. Try to have some drink containing Vitamin C, such as a glass of fruit juice or any citrus fruit with iron-rich meals. You can also make yourself a glass of lemon sherbet or squeeze a little lemon in your meal. Avoid drinking tea with iron-rich foods as this reduces absorption. If the iron level in your blood is low, your doctor will advise you to take iron supplements. Without enough iron, the body can't make enough red blood cells and the body's tissues and organs won't get the oxygen they need to function properly.

It's important to drink plenty of fluids as well, especially water. Blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy, and drinking enough water each day can help prevent common problems such as dehydration and constipation.

Intake of alcohol is strictly prohibited during pregnancy. Studies have linked alcohol consumption with various congenital anomalies of the new born. It is also wise to cut down on caffeine rich drinks. However, caffeine in moderate amounts poses no real harm to the baby. There are certain foods that one should avoid when pregnant. Avoid eating raw eggs and food containing raw or partially cooked eggs. Make sure you only eat meat that has been well-cooked. This is especially important with poultry and products made from minced meat. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat, and keep it separate from foods that are ready to eat. This is because raw meat contains bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

Myth If a woman craves for sweets, she will have a girl.

Fact: This just isn't true, because a particular type of food can't determine whether your baby will be a boy or girl. But in order to have a healthy pregnancy it's important to get the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals, eat well balanced meals and talk to your doctor about taking a daily multi-vitamin supplement that contains folic acid. Folic acid may reduce the risk a certain birth disorders such as neural tube defects.

Myth-If you're carrying your baby low in your uterus, you're going to have a boy.

Fact: How you carry your baby has nothing to do with its gender. Each patient carries her baby differently depending on her anatomy and body build, the size of her baby, how many month she is into her pregnancy and whether the baby has settled into the pelvic area. In a second or third pregnancy, the women may feel like they are carrying lower simply because their abdominal and pelvic muscles aren't as strong as in prior pregnancies.

Myth-If you drink castor oil or eat any hot fruit like papaya, you'll go into labour.

Fact: Nothing a woman eats or drinks can start labor. A combination of factors combine to initiate labour, and it only happens when both mom and baby are 'ready.'

Myth-If you have heat burn during pregnancy, your baby will have lots of hair.

Fact: There is no evidence to suggest a co-relation between heart burn and how hairy your new baby will be. During pregnancy, your gastro in systems may slow down and your stomach may have less room as your uterus grows. As a result some woman experience a burning sensation in the middle of their chest she should eat several hours before she goes to sleep, and eat small, frequent meals. Avoid foods that cause heart burn and antacids with advice from her doctor.

Myth-As long as you breast feed your bay, you can't get pregnant.

Fact: This is a very common myth. Although breast feeding affects a woman's menstrual period and may delay ovulation, it doesn't completely protect her from becoming pregnant therefore woman who are breast feeding should use birth control to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

Myth: Delivery ways are hereditary

Fact: Heredity has no place here. The kind of delivery you will have depends entirely on you body type, the baby's position and your state of body and mind throughout your pregnancy.

Myth: Avoid the computer

Fact: There's no evidence to prove that exposure to the computer is harmful for pregnant women. Practice moderation and there's no need to disconnect.

Myth: You can't get pregnant if you're breast-feeding

Fact: It's said that breast-feeding works a birth control only during the first six months, after which you're on your own. Chances of pregnancy increase after the mother resumes her menstrual cycle.

Myth: Keep away from metal detectors

Fact: Metal detectors are nothing but magnetic field rays and they cannot cause you or your unborn foetus any harm.

Myth: Certain foods will give you a fair or dark baby

Fact: Skin colour depends on the genes handed down by the parents; saffron or any other ingredient will not change them

Nazia Atique
Source of Myths and Facts: Femina Health


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