Proper nutrition during pregnancy is the key to trouble free and successful childbearing. Nourishing elements and vitamins containing in healthy food contribute to the good development of the newborn organism and formation of child’s future eating habits. Among the important nutrition components are keeping to a special diet, proper weight gain, safe food handling, appropriate use of mineral and multi-vitamin supplements, and avoidance of alcohol, caffeine, drugs, and smoking. The research paper focuses on the principles of proper nutrition during pregnancy, basic recommendations of nutritionists, and food that a pregnant woman should avoid.
Dietary Requirements and Recommended Food
Undoubtedly, pregnant woman must pay attention to the food she eats. Many people think that during pregnancy, woman should it twice more, but in reality, she should increase not the amount of food, but the amount of useful elements in products she chooses. Generally, pregnant woman needs almost all elements in a greater amount. Balanced diet will help a baby develop properly and grow healthy. In general, eating foods can be divided into five groups: vegetables, fruit, milk, meat, and grain products. Each group of healthy foods is rich in different nutrients. If some product cannot be related to any of these groups, then, it is not essential for your body.
Taking into consideration the information above, one can outline the list of products that are to be eaten during pregnancy:
- Pregnant woman needs vegetables and fruits every day as almost all of them contain vitamins and minerals necessary for the baby. Nutritionists recommend avoiding eating vegetables and fruits with salt, sugar, or fat and giving preference to fresh fruit rather than juices. Expectant mother can enjoy the variety of salad vegetables and legumes. The majority of foods present in this group is the source of vitamin C and folic acid (Bowden & Tannis, 2009).
- Pregnant woman should include grain products to her daily diet. Among the grain products are bread, rice, pasta, and many others. This group of food is rich in carbohydrates for energy, fiber, magnesium, zinc, and protein. Besides, these products make a woman feel fuller removing the feeling of hunger.
- For future child has strong bones, pregnant woman should drink milk and its alternatives. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in protein and calcium, which are necessary for building strong teeth and bones. At the same time, these components keep the body of a pregnant woman strong as well.
- Finally, it is important to eat meat every day as it keeps both a woman and a child healthy. At the same time, the meat that a pregnant woman eats must be not too fatty. If a woman is a vegetarian, she may constitute meat with products rich in the same elements. They are dried peas, tofu, lentils, and beans (Jones & Hudson, 2009).
For pregnant woman, iron and folic acid are two of the most essential nutrients, thus, the daily menu of a pregnant woman should contain the food rich in them. Iron carries oxygen to the baby. It can be found in lean meat, fish poultry, dried beans and peas, dark-green vegetables (for example, broccoli and spinach), whole-grain cereals and breads (Bowden & Tannis, 2009). Sometimes, pregnant women take an iron supplement if they are not able to keep their blood iron levels up by means of food containing this element. Another essential element is folic acid, which is a B vitamin that helps the body make blood cells and prevents the defects of neural tube. Folic acid is found in any kind of liver, black-eyed peas, lentils, whole-grain cereals, vegetables, and fruits, namely in orange, grapefruit, banana, and tomato.
Besides, during pregnancy, woman must drink much water because too little liquid put a heavy burden of kidney and may lead to kidney failure. Among the healthy beverages that a pregnant woman should intake are water, soup, real fruit juice, and milk (Jones & Hudson, 2009).
Nowadays, many women are to take prenatal multi-vitamin and mineral supplements during pregnancy. As a rule, they contain all the elements that are necessary for the proper development of a child, including folic acid and iron mentioned above. However, not every pregnant woman needs these supplements. Sometimes, they can cause unhealthy nutrient interactions and harm a child. Pregnant woman needs supplement only in case when her diet is poor and lacks any of basic groups of food; if the woman is pregnant with two or more children; if the woman smokes, uses drugs, or drinks alcohol (ADA & Ward, 2009). Women who follow a vegetarian diet usually have to take prenatal supplements containing vitamin B12, zinc, and vitamin D. In other cases, there is no need to take any additional nutrients. It is important that supplements are to be taken only with the advice of a doctor.
Another issue the pregnant woman should pay her attention to is the gain of weight. First, the process of weight gaining influences baby’s birth weight. Pregnant women must remember that pregnancy is not a time to lose weight (IOM, 1990). The baby who is born too small faces many problems while growing and tend to be more prone to widespread diseases. At the same time, it is unreasonably to eat too much. If the weight of the baby is too big, it can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, difficult delivery, and many other problems in the future. Nevertheless, weight gain is a usual part of normal pregnancy. The amount of pounds gained during nine months of childbearing depends upon many factors, namely, the weight before pregnancy, food eaten during this period, and specific characteristics of organism.
Food that should be Avoided During Pregnancy
The majority of nutritionists argue that there is no need to avoid any particular food, but generally, they single out some food that can be constituted by healthier products and thus, be more beneficial to the child. In this way, pregnant women should avoid food that is canned, packaged, or micro waved as this food may contain potentially harmful elements like preservatives, colorings, and flavor (American Red Cross, 1984). It is better to reduce various cakes and biscuits as they can cause gestational diabetes. During pregnancy, woman should also avoid rich food.
Of course, the best way to save child’s health is to avoid alcoholic drinks, coffee, and caffeine containing drinks as the harmful elements of these products can cross the placenta and harm the proper development of a baby. Besides, they can leach useful nutrients from the organism of a pregnant woman. Particularly, alcohol can be a cause of learning disabilities, mental retardation, and even birth defects. Speaking about caffeine, it can become a cause of birth defects and increase the chance of low birth weight. Pregnant woman should substitute potentially dangerous food with safe products. For example, it is better to abandon salami and give preference to home cooked meat. Fast food and pre-prepares salads are to be substituted by freshly made salads. Raw seafood, in its turn, is usually replaced by canned fish or well-cooked seafood.
One of the major concerns during pregnancy is the quality of food. Therefore, woman should avoid undercooked or raw products, as well as food that can contain toxic contaminants (IOM, 1990). To be sure that the food is safe, pregnant woman must pay attention to the hands washing and cooking surfaces and be sure that the process of cooking is safe and can cause no harm to her baby.
One-Day Menu (The 32nd Week of Pregnancy)
Planning her menu, pregnant woman must take into consideration the fact that nutrition plays the key role in the development of her future baby. She has to be full of energy during the day, and it is understood that the energy is fully dependent upon the elements and minerals which get into the organism with food. The daily menu of a pregnant woman must include protein (eggs or fish), carbohydrate (vegetables and fruit), healthy fats, and other useful elements. Normally, pregnant woman has to eat every three hours. It is essential to drink much fluid, limiting coffee, soda, and tea. Pregnant woman should eat enough to gain weight properly, but, at the same time, she has to eat not “for two” but as usual, choosing healthy food with a double portion of elements necessary for the development of the new organism (Jones & Hudson, 2009). Based on these main principles, I have designed a one-day menu suitable for a female who is 32 week pregnant.
Breakfast: grain cereal, banana, milk/eggs with grain toasts and tomato juice.
Late morning snack: pudding with nuts and berries.
Lunch: fresh vegetables, grain bread (it can be a sandwich or two), low fat yogurt, apple or another fruit.
Late afternoon snack: cheese cake/ low fat cheese with crackers.
Dinner: rice or pasta with chicken and green salad/vegetable soup.
Late evening snack: grain cereal with milk.
Summing up, nutrition during pregnancy is the issue that an expectant mother should pay much attention to. Being the key to successful childbearing, nutrition helps the new organism to develop in a right way. The main groups of food are vegetables, fruit, milk, meat, and grain products. They contain iron, folic acid, vitamin C, zinc, protein, carbohydrates, and many other important minerals and vitamins that have a positive impact on a new growing organism. All the necessary elements and vitamins containing in food influence not only the growth of a baby but also its future eating habits and immune system. After the thorough research, it was found out that proper nutrition means keeping to a pregnancy diet, proper weight gain, safe food handling, appropriate use of prenatal supplements, and avoidance of potentially dangerous food.