The Importance of Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most important periods of nutrition in human life. During pregnancy, there is only one source for the baby’s nutrition, growth and development: the mother. Therefore, a healthy diet becomes even more important during pregnancy. The growth and development of the baby during pregnancy occurs when the food consumed by the mother reaches the baby through the placenta. 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. Age at conception, infection during pregnancy, drugs used, alcohol, cigarettes, number of pregnancies, exposure to environmental factors… Undoubtedly, the most important thing 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.

Since the baby also meets its needs from the mother during pregnancy, the mother should add to her normal nutrition in the nutrition plan in a way that will meet the needs of the baby. However, this situation has led to a false idea among the public that a pregnant woman should be fed for 2 people. However, the more risky malnutrition during pregnancy is for the mother and the baby, the more harmful the overnutrition is.

Problems that may occur in the mother and baby as a result of malnutrition during pregnancy:

  • The risk of toxemia increases in pregnant women.

  • Edema may occur due to insufficient intake of protein.

  • Problems such as anemia, osteomalacia, tooth decay and loss may occur.

  • Energy and protein requirements increase with pregnancy. Failure to meet this requirement results in weight loss.

  • It can adversely affect the birth and breastfeeding process.

  • As a result of malnutrition during pregnancy, the risk of death, birth, low birth weight,/premature birth, congenital anomalies (heart diseases, neural tube defects,…) and mental retardation increases.

Problems that may occur in the mother and baby as a result of overfeeding during pregnancy:

  • cesarean delivery

  • Postmaturation (delayed date of birth)

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

  • Macrosomia babies (Over-normal babies)

  • Excessive weight gain and increased risk of developing gestational diabetes

To summarize, during pregnancy, the mother should eat healthy in order to meet her own energy and nutrient needs, to keep the stores in her body in balance, to ensure that her baby grows, develops, comes into the world, and to ensure that the milk that will be secreted during the breastfeeding period is productive.

General recommendations to ensure 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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