The Importance of Healthy Eating During Pregnancy for Mother and Baby

A healthy diet is very important at every stage of life. Undoubtedly, one of the most important periods is pregnancy. Because the nutrition of the expectant mother during pregnancy is effective both in her own health and in the health of her baby.

During pregnancy, there is only one source for the nourishment, growth and development of the baby: the mother. The baby obtains all the energy and nutrients it needs from the mother under all circumstances. It is very important for the health of both of them that the mother acts with the awareness that every food she consumes will reach her baby, and that she is fed in a way that meets the energy and nutritional needs of both herself and her baby during the pregnancy.

There are some factors that affect the health of mother and baby during pregnancy. These:

  • age at conception

  • infection during pregnancy

  • drug used

  • Alcohol

  • Cigaret

  • Number of pregnancies

  • Exposure to environmental factors etc.

Apart from these factors, one of the most important factors is nutrition. Adequate and balanced nutrition of the mother during pregnancy is very important both for the protection of her own health and for the physical and mental development of the baby.

During pregnancy, since the baby provides its energy and nutritional needs from the mother through the placenta, the nutrition of the expectant mother should be arranged to meet the needs of both. However, it is often said among these people, “You are two creatures, you must eat for two.” should not mislead expectant mothers. Expectant mothers may consume more food than necessary, worrying that their baby will not be fed enough. However, it should not be forgotten that the more risky malnutrition during pregnancy is for the mother and the baby, the more risky is overnutrition.

With the nutrition of the expectant mother during pregnancy;

  • It must meet its own energy and nutritional needs.

  • He should keep the stores in his body in balance.

  • It should ensure that the baby grows, develops and is born in a healthy way.

  • It should ensure that the milk that will be secreted during the lactation period is productive.

In order to achieve all these, it is very important for the mother to have an adequate and balanced diet, that is, a healthy diet. Unhealthy nutrition during pregnancy causes various health problems in both mother and baby.

The main health problems that can be seen in the baby due to unhealthy nutrition (undernutrition or overnutrition) during pregnancy are as follows:

  1. Stillbirth

  2. Early birth

  3. Physical and mental development disorders

  4. low birth weight

  5. Congenital anomalies (heart diseases, neural tube defect,…)

  6. Meconium aspiration (a condition known as the baby swallowing feces during pregnancy)

  7. Macrosomia babies (Over-normal babies)

The main health problems that can be seen in the mother due to unhealthy nutrition (undernutrition or overnutrition) during pregnancy are as follows:

  1. Anemia

  2. cesarean delivery

  3. Postmaturation (delayed date of birth)

  4. excessive weight gain

  5. Increased risk of developing gestational diabetes

  6. Edema

  7. Tooth decay and loss

  8. Weight loss (Energy and protein requirements increase with pregnancy. Failure to meet this requirement causes weight loss.)

  9. Bone tissue damage (Osteomalasia):

  10. Pregnancy toxemia (poisoning) / Preeclampsia-eclampsia

  11. Pica (Eating non-nutritive materials (earth, lime, etc.))

  12. Increased digestive problems during pregnancy (Nausea, Constipation, Heartburn/burning)

  13. Birth complications

  14. Deterioration or death of the mother

  15. Negative impact on the breastfeeding process

With adequate and healthy nutrition during pregnancy;

  • The physical and mental development of the baby is provided.

  • The baby is born with a normal weight.

  • Maternal health is protected.

  • The risk of birth complications is reduced.

  • Milk yield increases during the lactation period.

So how to ensure a healthy diet during pregnancy?

Here are general recommendations for maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy:

  • Nutritional diversity should be given importance to provide all the vitamins and minerals necessary for the mother and baby.

  • Meals should be consumed sparingly and often.

  • Care should be taken to consume an average of 2 glasses of milk/yogurt + 2 slices (60 grams) of cheese + 3-4 servings of meat group/legume/eggs + 5-7 servings of fresh vegetables and fruits + 4-7 servings of bread group on average per day.

  • Consuming whole grain products containing B group vitamins helps to meet the increased need during pregnancy.

  • Dark green leafy vegetables, dried legumes, eggs, cauliflower, whole grains, milk and products containing plenty of folic acid, which is one of the most important nutrients during pregnancy, should be included in the diet.

  • For the intake of zinc, which is important in tissue development, foods such as meat, seafood, milk and products, eggs, oilseeds should be included in the diet.

  • It is important to consume foods rich in iron (red meat, eggs, legumes, molasses).

  • Iron absorption can be increased by consuming fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C (peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, spinach,…) with meals.

  • Excessive consumption of tea and coffee should be limited as they will adversely affect the health of the baby. Since it prevents iron absorption, it should be consumed 1-2 hours before meals. The best choices to be consumed as beverages are milk, ayran, unsweetened low sugar compote, compote, lemonade and freshly squeezed fruit juice.

  • Attention should be paid to water consumption.

  • In order to prevent constipation, which is common during pregnancy, attention should be paid to a high-fiber diet.

  • Ready-made packaged foods and processed products should be avoided.

  • To prevent excessive weight gain, sugary, floury and fatty foods should be avoided.

  • Iodized salt should be preferred.

  • Since there is a risk of hypertension, attention should be paid to salt consumption.

  • Alcohol and smoking should not be used.

  • Vegetables/fruits that may harm the baby with toxins taken with food should be washed thoroughly and hygiene rules should be observed in matters such as preparation, cooking and storage of foods.

Remember, the best thing you can do for your baby and yourself is to eat healthy.

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