Feeding during pregnancy is paramount to the good health status of a pregnant mother.
Inadequate nutrients during gestation is probably the single most important environmental factor influencing pregnancy outcome.
Although physiological adjustments in nutrient utilization and metabolism are geared to improve the utilization of dietary nutrients during pregnancy, these adjustments may be insufficient to meet the demands for pregnancy and lactation if the woman is in poor nutrient status at conception.
Inadequate supply of nutrients is required to maintain the delicate balance between the needs of the mother and those of the in-born baby (foetus). An inadequate supply will cause a state of biological competition between the mother and the in-born baby in which the well being of both organisms is at serious risk.
Maternal poor nutrition due to insufficient food supply places a mother and her foetus at risk. However, one can mention other two groups of women at risk for having deficiency of nutrients at pregnancy.
One of such groups involves young ladies who become pregnant with low nutrient reserves. Another group of women are those who have short inter pregnancy intervals and may not have had sufficient time for their bodies to regenerate and possibly replace nutrients used during previous pregnancies.
In both cases, the mother’s nutritional status at conception may be compromised and her ability to support foetal growth and development may be less than optimal.
It seems reasonable to assume, however, that micronutrients may also be depleted in women with early or closely spaced pregnancies.
The effect of depletion for micronutrients such as iron, folic acid and vitamins on pregnancy outcome depends on their contents during pregnancy.
One would expect, however, that nutrients mobilized from maternal reserves to meet the needs of pregnancy and lactation must be replaced during the interpregnancy interval.
If that interval is too short or if there is a competition for the use of those nutrients between maternal and foetal growth, a deficiency of those micronutrients could develop and influence pregnancy outcome in future.
Both folic acid and iron are mobilized from maternal reserves during pregnancy, lactation and must be replaced in the interpregnancy period. If the maternal folate and iron status is poor at conception, an insufficient supply of these micronutrients could increase the risk of poor maternal and foetal outcomes.
Therefore, one can conclude that fetal development depends on genetic codes, maternal hormones, environmental factors and nutritional supplies.
A nutritional deficiency or overdose at a critical time can contribute to poor development. Consuming sufficient protein and fluids, the inclusion of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beneficial fats, avoidance of alcohol, drugs, caffeine and tobacco, and a balance of energy expenditure in sports or recreation with periods of rest and recovery, are vital to success.
Adequate nutrition begins before conception. The B vitamins, folic acid, zinc, protein and omega-3 fatty acids are essential prior to conception and in the first trimester when growth is pronounced and initial organ development is underway.
During gestation calories, protein and fluid intake are paramount. They affect cardiovascular parameters such as maternal blood volume and pressure, placental development and nutrient transport. Following birth, the mother’s recovery is dependent on the fuels available to repair tissue, nourish her organs and support breastfeeding.
Most of low basal weight problems can be prevented by improved prenatal nutrition and even small reductions in birth weight traced to reduced access to prenatal health care because of social and economic status problems
Nutrition must be adequate to prevent low birth weight and prematurely, as well as their consequences of mental and physical disabilities. Babies born under 2.5 kilograms are considered to have low basal weight.
Moderate aerobic exercise also reduces the risk for low basal weight and maternal preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension with proteins appearance in Urine).
Important to notice is that technology is improving survival rates for these conditions, but prenatal care, nutrition and moderate exercise are keys to their prevention.
Attention to these factors results in a healthy mother and in the absence of genetic abnormalities, uncontrollable environmental factors or accidents, it is clearly understood and expected that healthy mothers have healthy babies. Healthy babies born at full term are the goal for every pregnant mother and his doctor..
Mothers who eat an unhealthy diet during pregnancy may be putting their children at risk of developing long term, irreversible health issues such as obesity, raised levels of cholesterol and blood sugar.
Recent scientific research shows that mothers who feed on junk food diets are likely to produce baby’s with raised levels of cholesterol as well as higher levels of triglycerides, a type of fat found in the bloodstream. Both are known to increase the risk of developing heart disease.