Walking around campus, I have come across very many expectant young mothers. Seemingly, there will be so many baby showers before the year ends. Well, before we are ready to welcome our newborns just how healthy will they be?
Pregnancy is a time when the appetite is altered and nutritional needs change such that, what the expectant mother eats or drinks, can affect her baby’s health and her own comfort. The first advice in maintaining a healthy pregnancy, would be to regularly visit antenatal clinics for examinations so as to ensure you are aware of your baby’s progress and your own.
During pregnancy, extra nutrients are required, for the growing fetus and for placenta. A good intake of folate mostly during the first trimester, from foods such as peas, whole grain cereals, nuts and legumes is important in preventing neural tube defects and some other malformations in the fetus.
If a mother is deficient in vitamin A from foods such as eggs, carrots, spinach or even watermelon, then it is more likely that the baby will suffer from night blindness soon after birth.
Protein metabolism is more efficient during pregnancy and so is the absorption of iron. Inadequate supply of protein and iron therefore will result to anemia in the expectant mothers.
With calcium, its absorption becomes more efficient. Milk is the chief supplier of calcium. However, if the mother has an inadequate of the mineral calcium, the body will derive it from the bones and teeth of the mother to ensure it is availed to the baby.
The increased need for iodine should not be overlooked as it may cause cretinism. A normal amount of iodine-fortified salt supplies the required amounts also seafoods contain iodine.
The consumption of alcohol is discouraged during pregnancy as it induces the fetal alcohol syndrome, which is characterized by damage in the central nervous system and abnormal facial malformations. Births weights are lower in babies of mother who choose to continue smoking during pregnancy.
Expectant mothers should also maintain hygiene in their nutrition due to the danger of salmonella infection that is more serious in pregnancy.