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