The purpose of this review is to help pregnant women maintain healthier pregnancies through an adequate diet. It should be clear for all pregnant women that there will be a dietary change during their pregnancy period. The pregnant woman’s body requires a greater level of nutrients’. Those nutrients’ can ideally be found in a consequent diet specifically elaborated for the pregnant woman or in food supplements. Having an accurate knowledge about the Best diet for pregnancy and different type of food supplement during pregnancy becomes therefore very essential.
1. Dietary Change during Pregnancy
For most women, there should be an increase in milk products, fruit, and sweet items and decrease or elimination of caffeine, alcohol, and meats intake. The need for dietary change is to maintain a healthier pregnancy for both the woman and the fetus in the womb. The essential in the new diet will include:
- Safe foods for pregnant women
- Optimal amounts of energy
- Good proportion of micro and macro nutrients’.
The purpose of this diet is to avoid undesirable health issues that commonly arise with pregnancy condition such as exaggerate weight gain, ingestion of harmful substances, malformation of the baby, low birth weight, preeclampsia, pre-term birth, neurodevelopmental problems such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, etc.
Below is the recommendation of the Health Canada and The Public Health Agency of Canada For the nutrients’ intake for pregnant women.
Table 1. Dietary recommendations for pregnancy.
|EWCFG||Add 2–3 servings from any food group during the second and third trimester in addition to the daily recommendation.|
|Vegetables and Fruit||7–8 servings|
|Grain Products||6–7 servings|
|Milk and Alternatives||2 servings|
|Meat and Alternatives||2 servings|
|Cooked ﬁsh||150 g/week|
|Calcium||1000 mg before and during pregnancy|
|Iron||18 mg before pregnancy; 27 mg during pregnancy|
|Folic acid||400 µg before pregnancy; 600 µg during pregnancy|
|Caffeine||Maximum 300 mg/day|
Recommendations from Health Canada . EWCFG: Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
Although most women are very much aware of the need for healthy eating during pregnancy, they may be short of the most needed specific recommendations from experts. Other conditions can be associated with the challenge of eating such as nausea, vomiting, tiredness, vomiting or even appetite loss. In this case, they may need a specific guide such as
Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition
This book will provide you with the views of an expert in the domain of Prenatal Nutrition. There has never been a more comprehensive and well-referenced resource on prenatal nutrition. With Real Food for Pregnancy as your guide, you can be confident that your food and lifestyle choices support a smooth, healthy pregnancy.
2.Food supplement during Pregnancy: mineral and vitamin supplements
Mineral as food supplement
As already said, there are some hormonal and physiological changes associated with the pregnancy condition. The pregnant woman needs more nutrients’ than the period prior to pregnancy. Multiple micro nutrients are often taken by pregnant women in developed countries, but their benefits are limited, except for prophylactic folic acid taken during the periconceptional period.
Some serious health problems might be associated with micro nutrients deficiency for both the pregnant woman and her child. When we talk of micro nutrients, we are speaking of vitamins and minerals. In cases where the diet of the pregnant woman cannot provide her with all the micro nutrients that she needs, it is imperative for her to take these micro nutrients as supplements. Those micro nutrients will treat the woman directly and provide a greater level of security against maternal morbidity and mortality. The primary focus of nutrients’ supplements (and mostly iron and folate) was for the following:
- perinatal mortality
- preterm delivery
- And low birth weight.
Calcium deﬁciency is rare in pregnancy but it appears when the pregnant woman has a diet poor in dairy products. Low calcium and magnesium concentrations have been associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, although a causal effect has not been shown (10; MJ Keirse, unpublished observations, 2000). According to McCarron (DA McCarron, unpublished observations, 2000), it is safe for a pregnant woman to take an iron supplements during pregnancy. The maximum intake tolerable is fixed at 2500mg/day.
Iron deficiency can also occur in pregnancy; this causes anemia and has been associated with maternal mortality. Iron deficiency is known to affect immune status by reducing the delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction, graft rejection, and cytotoxic activity of phagocytes. Prophylactic iron supplementation is recommended in developing countries (Stoltzfus RJ, Dreyfuss ML. Guidelines for the use of iron supplements to prevent and treat iron-deficiency anemia. Washington, DC: INACG/WHO/UNICEF, 1998) and in the United States (Institute of Medicine. Nutrition during pregnancy. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1990) for all pregnant women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy; in other countries, iron supplementation is recommended only for anemic women with proven iron deficiency anemia, as in Great Britain Hibbard BM. Iron and folate supplements during pregnancy: supplementation is valuable only in selected patients. BMJ 1988; 297: 1324–6.), or for women with low pre-pregnancy iron stores, as in Canada (Health Canada. Nutrition for a healthy pregnancy: national guidelines for the childbearing years. Ottawa: Health Canada, 1997). Safety issues related to iron are discussed by Yip (Yip R. Significance of an abnormally low or high hemoglobin concentration during pregnancy: special consideration of iron nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72(suppl):272S–9S.).
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Vitamin A deficiency occurs during pregnancies when the diet is poor in carotene rich vegetable and fruits or if the body cannot properly absorb the vitamin A. The deficiency of Vitamin A in a pregnant woman can cause problems such as maternal mortality, premature birth, intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight, and antepartum hemorrhage.
In the case of either a dairy poor in Vitamin A or poor absorption of Vitamin A by the body, it will be imperative for the pregnant woman to take some Vitamin A supplement. Evidence-based results proof that Vitamin A supplement can greatly impact the health of the pregnant woman and the baby in the womb. Statics report the following:
- Weekly Vitamin A (7000 µg) in Nepal reduced maternal mortality by 40%; the prevalence of subclinical vitamin A deficiency by 84% (West KP, Katz J, Khatry SK, et al. Double-blind, cluster-randomized trial of low dose supplementation with vitamin A or b-carotene on mortality related to pregnancy in Nepal. Br Med J 1999; 318:570–5). And the risk of night blindness by 38% (World Health Organization. Requirements of ascorbic acid, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, folate, and iron. World Health Organ Tech Rep Ser 1972;452).
- Supplementing pregnant women in their second trimester with both vitamin A (2400 mg) and iron daily for 2 mo improved hemoglobin concentrations more so than did supplementation with iron or vitamin A alone. ( Suharno D, West CE, Muhilal, Karyadi D, Hautvast JGAJ. Supplementation with vitamin A and iron for nutritional anemia in pregnant women in West Java, Indonesia. Lancet 1993;1: 1593–6).
- Vitamin A therapy, in the form of cod liver oil, for women with puerperal fever reduced the severity of puerperal fever and reduced maternal mortality by about two-thirds when given with the usual treatment for sepsis (Mellanby E, Green HN. Vitamin A as an anti-infective agent: its use in the treatment of puerperal septicemia. Br Med J 1929; 1:984–6).
Vitamin E, D and K deficiencies in pregnancy are rare. Their supplements are not required.
Hypervitaminosis Increases the risk of fetal malformation, and supplementation should not exceed 3000 mg/d (World Health Organization. Safe vitamin A dosage during pregnancy and lactation. Geneva: WHO, 1998. [WHO/NUT/98.4.). Excess vitamin A also has adjuvant effects that increase lymphocyte proliferation, tumor resistance, graft rejection, and cytotoxic T cell activity, possibly by inhibiting T cell apoptosis.
As the pregnancy progresses, the concentration of the blood with folic acid, Vitamin C, Plasma thiamine, riboflavin decrease because of the fetus intake. Vitamin B-6 concentrations decline during pregnancy as a physiologic adjustment secondary to increased blood volume or as a result of increased requirements for active transport across the placenta.
Vitamins can be taken individually. Folate and Iron can also be taken individually. However, more recent researchers advocate multi nutrients supplements. The purpose of multiple-micronutrient supplementation during pregnancy is twofold: to improve pregnancy outcome and to improve breast-milk quality.
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The importance of exercise during pregnancy.
In order to maintain or even improve on your overall wellness during pregnancy, you do not only need to eat well or to take food supplements but more importantly, you need to maintain some level of exercise. Some levels of exercise may help in preventing loss of appetite, overweight and the development of some diseases related with pregnancy. The type of exercise to be adopted depends on the sensibility of each woman. But generally speaking, the exercise should not require excessive physical efforts.
Importance of exercise after pregnancy.
After pregnancy, you will still need to exercise. Particularly, you need to control your bladder and your weight after you have delivered your baby. The TOTI DELUXE KEGEL EXERCISE SYSTEM kit may go a long way in helping you maintain a sound body after you have given birth.
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- REINFORCE BLADDER CONTROL – This 8-piece Kegel exerciser weight set helps women strengthen and tone their pelvic floor to reduce incontinence and “leaking”
- SUPPORTS WOMEN POST PREGNANCY – Kegel exercise balls are made especially for women who struggle with peeing when laughing, running, sneezing or coughing.
- PROGRESSIVE WEIGHT TRAINING – Ideal for beginners looking to improve bladder control, our Kegel training balls come in 8 different weights for increased support.
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