Nutrition During Pregnancy

The energy needs are hiked to foster growth and development of the tissues such as placenta, amniotic fluid and fetus, maternal tissues like uterus and breasts, tissue synthesis, and maternal fat deposition. The approximate extra cost of energy during pregnancy is 77, 000 kcal (FAO, WHO &UNU, 2004).

In addition, pregnant women require essential fatty acids which are important in the development of fetal nervous system and the brain. Rich sources include oily fish, but care should be taken with their consumption, since they may contain pollutants such as methyl mercury, which may be detrimental to the developing fetal nervous system (Theobald, 2003).

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Moreover, recommended additional protein intake during pregnancy has been estimated at 6 g per day. Protein helps in the growth of maternal tissues and development of conception products. Rich sources include meat, milk and milk products, beans, poultry and fish (FAO, WHO &UNU, 2004).

Furthermore, intake of the carbohydrate diet like sugar, starch and dietary fiber is not necessarily raised. However, women who experience constipation due to reduced peristaltic motion in the gastrointestinal tract will benefit from the consumption of dietary fiber, ranging from 12-24 g per day. Increased intake of fluids will also foster the regularity of bowel movement (Williamson, 2006).

In addition, vitamin A is needed to promote fetal and maternal tissue growth and for fetal storage. However, if taken in large quantities, vitamin A can be teratogenic; women should avoid rich sources of retinol like liver and supplements, unless advised by a practitioner. Other sources are dark green leafy vegetables, and dark yellow and orange fruits. Vitamin C intake needs to be increased for storage and for enhancing iron absorption. Sources are oranges, pineapples and lemons.

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Further, iron should be increased for fetal and placental growth and to foster production of more red blood cells. Rich sources include red meats and green leafy vegetables. The recommended dietary intake is an additional 9 mg per day or supplementation (Williamson, 2006).

Another mineral requirement is riboflavin, which helps with the release of energy in the body cells. An additional 0.3-1.4 mg per day of riboflavin throughout the pregnancy is recommended. Rich sources of riboflavin include milk and milk product, meat and meat products, cereals and yeast extract.

Moreover, increased intake of folic acid helps to prevent megaloblastic anemia. It is provided through supplementation, intake of folate-fortified foods or dietary intake of dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and legumes.

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On the other hand, pregnant women need to avoid unpressurised milk and milk products, raw or undercooked meat, since they may contain Toxoplasma gondiiwhich causes Toxoplasmosis infection that leads to mental retardation and blindness (Thomas, 2001).

Expectant women need to avoid excessive alcohol intake as it can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes low birth weight, abnormal facial appearance and congenital abnormalities. Such children may be stunted or mentally retarded. It also affects conception viability of the women (Goldberg, 2002; Beattie, 1999).

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