Learning you are pregnant can certainly rattle your foundations. Right from the word go, a mother must make decisions that no longer just involve her. Taking on the job of a full time baby incubator requires enormous responsibility and it can be tough readjusting ones habits.
We live in a day and age where there is a wealth of information at our finger tips. And whilst there is no doubt that this knowledge has allowed for massive progress in areas such as health and medicine, it can sometimes seem like an information overload. The latest research this week, can completely contradict what was out last week. There are some things however, that are defined in their certainty. One of these things, is the importance of nutrition during pregnancy.
For those of living in a western society, we are privileged to have both the awareness of and access to, healthy nutritious foods. Where most people can consume what they choose with limited effect on others, a pregnant mother has the responsibility to make choices in the interest of both herself and the child.
A considerable amount of research is now out on the importance of certain vitamins, minerals and foods to ensure healthy development of the fetus. As always opinions may conflict and ultimately a woman must make the decision that feels right to her. There are however, a few key givens, in creating the best possible environment for your baby’s development.
There is overwhelming research to document the dangers of smoking during pregnancy on a baby. Aside from the increase of miscarriage and premature labour, the risk of possible birth defects is significant. When a woman chooses to smoke during her pregnancy, she puts her unborn child at risk of low birth weight, developing cleft lip, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and/or learning disabilities.
When a pregnant mother takes a drink of alcohol, the alcohol is passed through the placenta to the baby. Alcohol interferes with their ability to get enough oxygen and nourishment for normal cell development in the brain and other body organs. Research has shown that a developing fetus has very little tolerance for alcohol and infants born to mothers who drink during pregnancy can have serious problems. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a pattern of mental and physical defects which develop in some unborn babies when the mother drinks "too much" alcohol during pregnancy. The problem is nobody is certain just how much "too much" is. A baby born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can have serious handicaps and therefore could require a lifetime of special care. With so much at stake, is it really that much of a sacrifice to pass up that glass of wine for a few months?
This is particularly important during the first trimester and your doctor should prescribe you with a supplement for those first critical months. It helps to insure proper formation of the brain and spinal cord, without which there is a higher chance of miscarriage, and a 1 in 1000 chance that the child will end up with a Neural Tube Disorder (NTD) such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Taking folic acid on a daily basis can reduce risk by as much as 70%.
A balanced diet
Most of this is common sense and providing a woman has already built healthy habits around her diet, little special attention is necessary. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences specifies certain increases in the Recommended Daily Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for pregnant and lactating women. For example, more iron is needed not only because of fetal demands, but also because the mother's blood volume may be increased as much as 30 percent.
Pregnant women also have an increased need for B vitamins, which usually can be met by eating more whole grains, milk and egg products. They also need an extra 400 milligrams of calcium daily. Nearly all of this extra calcium goes into the baby's bones. If there is not enough calcium in the mother's diet, the fetus may draw calcium from the mother's bones. Calcium deficiency in pregnancy may result in osteoporosis.
While most of these additional requirements can be made up by conscious effort in dietary intake, if a mother is not meeting these requirements, supplements may be necessary.
There is a great deal of information out there offering advice to mothers-to-be of how they best serve themselves and their child during pregnancy. I recommend any woman who wishes to take control of her pregnancy and ensure minimal risk and maximum nourishment for their unborn child, to read, ask questions and make informed decisions that are right for her and her baby.
Check out my other article on keeping sane and staying healthy during pregnancy.
schmeidi hasn't written a blurb about themselves.
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