Nutrition for the pregnant woman

Nutrition for the pregnant woman

Feeding for a pregnant woman does not differ much from that of normal periods, although it must cover not only the nutritional needs of the mother but also those of the unborn child and ensure the regular course of pregnancy. 

This commonly leads to say that the expectant mother should “eat for two”, certainly an exaggerated statement. It is true, however, that if the woman’s diet does not cover the needs of the fetus, the growth of the latter will affect maternal nutrient reserves, which, in addition to increasing the risk of diseases for the mother, can negatively influence the development of the child.

The additional energy demand for gestation is relatively contained, varies according to the period (on average it is around 300 kcal per day) and is such as not to cause significant changes in the normal dietary habits of the pregnant woman: it is important to take this into account, to avoid risky weight gains occur beyond the desired limits.

  • PREGNANCY WEIGHT INCREASE

The desirable weight gain of pregnant women and their need additional energy are different in function of the Pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI). 

  • The following general indications can be given:
  • For those who become pregnant underweight (BMI less than 18.5) energy needs are greater and weight gain desirable is between 12.5 and 18 kg.
  • For those who start pregnancy in a normal weight situation (BMI between 18.5 and 25), the desirable weight gain is among the 11.4 and 16 kg. A hypothesis of correct progression is that which foresees an increase of 3.5 kg after the first 20 weeks and, subsequently, of about 0.5 kg per week.
  • For those who become pregnant in overweight situations (BMI greater than 25), it is desirable to contain the increase of weight between 7 and 11.5 kg.
  • For those who are obese in early pregnancy (BMI greater than 30), the recommended weight gain is around 7 kg.

For those who become pregnant underweight (BMI less than 18.5) energy needs are greater and weight gain desirable is between 12.5 and 18 kg

With regard to the nutrition of a healthy peer, the nutrition of a healthy pregnant woman will require some more attention in terms of quality, especially in relation to proteins, the type of fat and some vitamins and minerals. The increased demand for protein, typical of the condition, the pregnant woman can meet by resorting to fish, lean meats, eggs, milk, cheeses and dairy products, but also to bread, pasta, rice and other cereals which, if not too refined, also contribute to preventing constipation, a frequent disorder during pregnancy. 

Dried legumes provide proteins, iron and calcium, but in some cases they can favor the appearance of meteorism and abdominal colic, conditions that are particularly recommended to avoid during pregnancy.

Among vitamins and minerals, pregnancy involves decidedly higher needs as regards calcium (in the 3rd trimester about 200-250 mg pass every day into the skeleton of the fetus: if it is not the maternal nutrition that supplies them, it will be the mother’s bones to deprive themselves of it, by descaling), iron (needs almost doubled compared to the adult woman: it is often necessary to resort to supplements), folates (doubled needs, opportunities for supplements) and also other vitamins such as B1, B2, B12 and Vitamin A. 

It is therefore necessary to enrich the basic diet with milk and dairy products and consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, preferring those colored in yellow-orange and the broad-leaved dark green vegetables.

As for water, the pregnant woman, in addition to her own needs, must also cover gestational and fetal ones (maternal blood, amniotic fluid and annexes, blood and fetal tissues) for a total demand at the end of about 8 liters: it is therefore appropriate that the normal ration of 1 liter and a half-2 liters has slightly increased.

Among the seasoning fats, even for pregnant women, the absolute best is extra virgin olive oil. As a general rule, during pregnancy it is advisable to refrain from consuming sausages, but above all it is necessary to exclude raw or undercooked food of animal origin and alcoholic beverages of any kind.

  • How to behave
  • During pregnancy avoid excessive weight gains and be careful to cover your increased needs in protein, calcium, iron, folate and water: therefore you usually consume fish, lean meats, eggs, milk and derivatives and a wide variety of vegetables and fruit.
  • In particular, throughout your fertile age, take care that your intake of folate covers your needs. In this way you will reduce the risk of changes in the neural tube (spina bifida) in the fetus.
  • During pregnancy, do not consume raw or undercooked food of animal origin and do not drink alcoholic beverages.

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4 Responses

  1. Nutrition is a decisive factor in having a good pregnancy. But one should not exaggerate with obsessions and with the fear of gaining weight

      1. In particular, as regards the correct weight gain, the pregnant woman, during the first three months of pregnancy, should maintain her ideal weight established on the basis of age, height and constitution.

        1. Important not to increase the overall calorie content: the popular saying that a pregnant woman must eat for two is not true, rather periodically check the body weight in order to avoid excessive weight gain.

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