NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT DURING PREGNANCY 1
The nutritional needs of pregnant women are verydifferent from the nutritional requirement of normal women. Pregnantwomen require more food as well as proper diet and micronutrients. Itis imperative that pregnant women receive the proper diet duringtheir pregnancy period. Failure to adhere to a proper diet would leadto the body consuming its own reserves and weakening the woman.Consequently, weakening and low weight during pregnancy might resultin low birth weight. A pregnant woman needs energy, especially in thesecond and the third trimester when the fetus cells are dividingrapidly, and growth is taking place. This energy is obtained fromproper dieting. This includes consuming the right quantity of foodand nutrients. According to Blackburn (2011), it is of paramountimportance that a woman gets iodine, vitamins, proteins, iron, andfolate during her pregnancy period to safeguard her health as well asthe health of the growing child. This essay discusses the nutritionalsupport that a pregnant woman requires. For such, the paper discussesessential issues that happen during pregnancy such as the energycosts, micronutrient requirements, and having a healthy diet.
Healthy Eating During Pregnancy
Healthy eating is an essential practice for apregnant woman. In the opinion of Gidus, (2012), pregnant womenrequire five main food groups: grains, vegetables & fruits, meat,fats & sugars, and milk. For each of the different groups, apregnant woman would require variable quantities. For instance, it isadvisable that a woman takes plenty of grains, especially wholegrainvarieties. The food standard agency recommends that a woman shouldconsume a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as fruit juices.The agency recommends a minimum of five portions of fruits in a day[CITATION Roy10 l 1033 ].Foods groups like milk and dairy products should be consumedmoderately, particularly choosing thelow-fat version of dairy products. Similarly, a pregnant woman shouldconsume a moderate amount of meat and meat products whenever she can.Lastly, food containing a lot of fats or sugars should be consumedsparingly. Sugars should especially be taken with caution because itcontributes to tooth decay[CITATION Roy10 l 1033 ].
The report by Royal College of Obstetricians &Gynecologists (2011) also indicated that pregnant women should avoidany food sources containing teratogen because these substances causecongenital abnormalities to the child. Besides avoiding teratogens,it is also imperative that the consumption of alcoholic drinks isavoided because it affects the early development of the fetus andmight lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which affects the child’slearning capability and behaviors later in life. Consumption ofcaffeinated drinks should also be limited to, “less than 200mg perday because high intake of caffeine might be a cause of miscarriagesand small-for-gestational-age babies”[ CITATION Lin16 l 1033 ].
Whereas the food intake and healthy eating habitsare major prerequisites for a pregnant woman, it is also importantthat the woman gets micronutrients through her diet or supplements.The micronutrients often ensure a healthy pregnancy. Some of the mostcommon micronutrients necessary for a pregnant woman includevitamins, minerals, and trace elements. According to (Blackburn,2011), “the necessary vitamins for a pregnant woman includevitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. vitamins A and D are fat-soluble”.As a result, they can easily be transferred across the placenta viadiffusion. On the other hand, Vitamins K and E are required at verylow levels and are usually lower in the baby than in the mother dueto the poor transfer of these elements between the mother and thefetus. Nevertheless, despite being deemed necessary for reducingpregnancy complications and oxidative stress, scholars and physicianshave found no functional significance of vitamins E to the fetus(Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, 2011). On theother hand vitamins, K helps in reducing blood clotting, thuspreventing serious complications such as excessive bleeding duringbirth.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, and it is transferredthrough diffusion across the placenta into the fetus. Unlike vitaminsK and E, physicians have noticed that vitamin C is in higherconcentration in the fetus than in the mother’s circulation (RoyalCollege of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, 2011). Vitamin C isnecessary as it contributes to the creation of collagen, a structuralprotein responsible for the formation of bones, cartilage, skin, andtendons. In addition to this, vitamin C assists the both the motherand the fetus in fighting diseases. The last vitamin needed duringpregnancy is vitamins B. this vitamin is essential for the growth anddevelopment of the nervous system as well as the development of thebaby’s brain. In addition to this, vitamin B6 helps in metabolizingcarbohydrates and proteins in the fetus, as well as assists in theformation of new blood cells, neurotransmitters, and antibodies[ CITATION DeB13 l 1033 ].
Besides vitamins, trace minerals like calcium,magnesium, zinc, and iron are necessary for the growth of the fetus.It is important that the mother receives these trace elements toensure the survival and health of the baby during and after birth. Atrace element like calcium is especially useful in the development ofthe skeletal structure. This implies that the development of bonesand cartilage are highly dependent on the availability of calciumduring pregnancy (Blackburn, 2011). Besides calcium, zinc is also anecessary trace element for the pregnant mother as it assists in theprevention of birth defects. This mineral is also important forhealing wounds, to maintain a sense of taste, and supporting theimmune system. Magnesium is also considered an essential traceelement during pregnancy. In the second trimester of pregnancy, theskeleton develops. Even though calcium is the major component neededduring this period, scholars are of the opinion that magnesium isalso a necessity in the development of the skeleton and tooth enamel.The inadequacy of these trace elements may lead to deficiencysymptoms such as leg cramps.
One of the major problems when supporting thenutritional requirement of a pregnant woman is advising them on therelationship between food consumption, energy cost, and fetal growth.It is imperative that pregnant women understand that consumption foodand proper dieting contribute to the production of energy to sustainthe life of the woman as well as to ensure the growth and developmentof the fetus. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians &Gynecologists (2011), there is a big correlation between the mother’sweight gain and the birth weight. In addition, the changes of weightduring pregnancy have been known to affect other outcomes includingperinatal morbidity, preterm birth, and the mortality of both thefetus and the mother.
It is advisable that pregnant women go for regularweight checks and manipulate their diets to ensure dynamic weightgain or loss depending on the prescription of the physician. RoyalCollege of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (2011) asserted thatproper manipulation of weight through diet keeps a woman at a‘normal’ weight range, which is beneficial to the fetus. In spiteof this assertion, the Royal College of Obstetricians &Gynecologists (2011) maintains that the hypothesis on normal weightrange has never been tested in an empirical study. As a result, it isvery difficult to determine whether the normal weight range isbeneficial or harmful to the fetus. Even though this aspect ofdieting remains in contention, scholars are of the opinion that fetalgrowth and development is highly dependent on the nutritional supportthat the mother gets during pregnancy. In addition, “a pregnantwoman needs micronutrient supplement such as vitamins A, B, C, D, E,and K” (Blackburn, 2011). Good nutritional support often translatesto the good health of the mother, which in is turn passed to thefetus to ensure proper growth and development.
Pregnant women have different nutritionalrequirements and require the support of their physician to ensureproper health of both the mother and the child. The literature onnutritional support for pregnant women indicates that the womanrequires to diet properly and get five major food groups includingfats, oil, & starch, meats and meat substitutes, vegetables &fruits, milk, and grains. These food groups ensure a healthy growthof the fetus and provide the necessary nutritional requirements.These supplements ensure proper development and formation of thefetus during and after pregnancy. In addition, they ensure thewelfare of the mother to avoid post-natal complications.Micronutrients also include trace elements like calcium, magnesium,iron, and zinc that are necessary for the formation of bones, blood,and stabilizing the immune system.
Blackburn, S. T. (2011). Maternal, Fetal, & Neonatal Physiology: A Clinical Perspective (3rd ed.). St. Louis, Mo: Saunders Elsevier.
DeBruyne, L. K., Pinna, K., & Whitney, E. N. (2013). Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Belmont, Calif: Wadswort.
Gidus, T. (2012). Pregnancy Cooking and Nutrition For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, N.J.
Linnard-Palmer, L., & Coats, G. H. (2016). Safe Maternity and Pediatric Nursing Care. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. (2011). Nutrion in Pregnacy. London: Royal College of Obstretricians & Gynaecologists. Retrieved Dec 10, 2016, from https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/scientific-impact-papers/sip_18.pdf