Nutrition and pregnancy
Nutrition and pregnancy are intricately tied to each other in that proper nutrition is essential both conception and a healthy pregnancy.
Nutrition is a key factor in the future well being of a conceived child. In fact, some aspects of diet during pregnancy are proven to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality by helping supply the mother with nutrients.
Nutrition before pregnancy
Nutrition prior to conception is important since pregnancy and childbirth require many of the body's resources. Pre-pregnancy nutrition should focus on strengthening the immune system and is a major factor in successfully conceiving healthy children. The ideal range of weight for mothers who want to conceive is a body mass index between 20 and 26. They should maintain this BMI and proper nutrition. The amount of fat content may be considered the most important factor of pre-pregnancy nutrition. For this reason, obese women are advised to lose weight before trying to conceive.
Particularly important nutrients include: magnesium and zinc, folic acid, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
Nutrition during pregnancy
The embryo is most susceptible at the beginning of pregnancy. At this time there is no mechanism (since the placenta has yet to form) to protect the embryo from any deficiencies that the mother may possess. For this reason it is critical that the mother consume the proper amount of nutrients and energy.
Nutrients that must be increased include proteins, thiamin, riboflavin, foliate, vitamin C and vitamin D.
As with any healthy diet, alcohol is suggested in only small amounts, no more than 15 units a week. This is particularly due to the fact that excessive amounts of alcohol cause birth defects and malformations.
It is essential that mothers, particularly nursing mothers, maintain proper nutrient and energy intake after childbirth for the health of both their children and themselves.