Running head: PREGNANCY LIFE STAGEPregnancy Life Stage 1
Does nutrition status affect fertility? Good overall nutrition, rather than eating any specific food, greatly improves your chances of conceiving a child. For women, nutrient deficiencies and low-calorie diets at one extreme, and obesity at the other, can disrupt ovulation. Poor nutrition can also have an impact on male fertility. In order to get pregnant, doctors recommend that both women and men eat healthy, exercise and keep a positive mental attitude to increase chances of fertilization.
Eating healthy, exercise and keeping a positive mental attitude are equally important during pregnancy and after pregnancy. According to www.familyinternet.com, “carrying a baby for nine months and then providing it with breast milk afterward is a major nutritional stress on a woman’s body. Food intake increases only 15-20%, but requirements for specific nutrients such as folic acid, zinc, and certain B vitamins may increase by 30-100%.” In addition, less than optimal nutrition can result in low-birth weight babies with increased risk of heart disease and non-insulin-dependent diabetes as adults. (www.childbirth-connections.com). Both over-eating and under-eating can adversely affect the qualities and quantities of breast milk, which is explained further under Dietary Requirements During Pregnancy. During pregnancy, nutrients are passed from mother to fetus through the placenta, and after birth, through breast-milk.
The main vitamins and nutrients needed by mother and fetus is explained in the chart below:
ProteinNeed for pregnant women is increased by 10 to 15 grams daily (1 glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein).Forms structural basis for all new cells and tissues for both the mother and fetuswww.tdh.tx.us
Carbohydrates50-100 g/dailyPrevents ketosis, which, during pregnancy, can cause brain damage to the fetus.www.tdh.tx.us
Folate400-800 micrograms dailyPrevents anemia during pregnancy, may prevent miscarriage, preserves the integrity of genetic material, and lowers risk of neural tube defects like spina-bifudawww.familyinternet.com
Calcium1000-1500 mg/dailyMilk production and growing boneswww.familyinternet.com
Iron30 mg beginning 12th week of pregnancyBinds oxygen to hemoglobin and prevent iron-deficiency anemia“Nutrition During Pregnancy”, National Academy of Sciences
Vitamin DAdequate sun exposure, or 10 mg/daily for complete vegetarians and 5 mg/daily for woman who don’t eat vitamin D-fortified foods (dairy products)Promotes fetal growth, bone formation, tooth enamel formation and the proper utilization of calciumwww.familyinternet.com
Vitamin B-62-5 mg/day during 1st & 2nd trimester, not to exceed 20 mg/day in the last trimester; higher doses may shut off milk productionManufacture of hormones, hemoglobin, neurotransmitters, many enzymes, and amino acids.www.familyinternet.com
Vitamin E200 IUDecreases risk of premature babies and low-birth weight infants and may lower the risk of miscarriage.www.familyinternet.com
Vitamin AFollow the RDA of 2700 IU dailyProvides baby with vitamin A reserves and sustains adequate breast-mil concentrations.www.familyinternet.com
Zinc10-30 mg daily is sufficient and considered safe; excessive intake of zinc can lower HDL-cholesterol.Reduces risk of miscarriage, labor complications, neural tube defects and low-birth babieswww.familyinternet.com
Food plays a major role in promoting a healthy life. However, during the pregnancy cycle, nutrition is of even greater importance because of the effects on both the mother and baby. Many people have said that a pregnant mother is eating for two, which in fact is correct. The mother needs a certain amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, water and fiber in the diet each day.
One suggested food plan, developed by FamilyWeb.com, suggests that during the first 2 to 3 months of pregnancy, a woman should try eating small amounts frequently throughout the day to keep the energy higher. If the mother only eats larger amounts of food less frequently, she may experience discomfort due to her energy levels reaching highs and lows. The food plan also recommends that the mother eat raw vegetables, fruits, juices, milk, breads and cereals in between meals as a way to keep the metabolic rate and energy steady.
Each food group has recommended or suggested serving amounts for a pregnant woman. An outline of the serving amounts for each food group is as follows:
The Five Food GroupsSuggested Number of Servings
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dried beans, peas and nuts3 or more
Whole grains, enriched breads and cereals9 or more
Fats and sweetsVary according to calories needed
It is very important that, during pregnancy, that the mother eats the suggested amounts from each of the food groups in order to maintain a balanced diet and healthy nutritional intake. The foods in each group all play a vital role in the diet because of the following reasons:
Fruits and Vegetables – The foods in this group contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, which is a natural laxative and aids in the regularity of the mother.
Milk and Dairy Products – This group contains calcium and other nutrients produce strong bones and teeth for the mother and child.
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dried beans, peas, seeds, and nuts – This group of foods is needed to supply protein needed to help build new tissues and maintain the health of body cells.
Whole grain or enriched breads and cereals – Breads and cereal foods provide vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron. Whole grains and cereals provide essential elements such as zinc and also fiber. These foods aid in the production of energy.
Fats and Sweets – This of foods such as margarine, butter, jellies and sugars are high in sugar, fat and salt. These should be used to meet additional caloric needs after the basic nutritional needs have been met. Eating too much of these can crowd the other necessary nutrients.
Furthermore, it is best to get vitamins and minerals from the foods eaten rather than from supplements because this is a good sign that the mother has an adequate diet. However, the doctor may prescribe supplements for iron and folacin because of increased needs during pregnancy. Also, vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron. By taking iron supplements with orange juice or such, the mother may double and even triple the amounts of iron absorbed. Also, it is essential that the mother drink 6 to 8 glassed of water each day during pregnancy in order to stay properly hydrated.
There have been stories of pregnant women with cravings such as pickles and ice cream. Although this may be true, it is fine to eat foods that the pregnant mother craves occasionally. However, she needs to remember the dietary and nutritional needs that other foods
previously mentioned are essential to being a healthy mother and having a healthy baby. (www.familyweb.com).
While eating the recommended diet a mother should almost automatically gain the proper amount of weight. The recommended amount of weight gain for the first trimester is 3-5 pounds. The recommendation for the second and third trimester is one pound per week, which will lead
to the recommended 25-35 pounds of total weight gain (ivillage.com). It is suggested that women who are underweight should gain 28-40 pounds, women who are overweight should only gain 15-25 pounds, and women pregnant with twins should gain 35-45 pounds (women.com). The blood volume, breast and uterine tissue, amniotic fluid, baby, placenta, and fluid retention account for 10-15 pounds of normal pregnancy weight gain (www.ivillage.com).
Weight loss or obesity during pregnancy is something that needs to be watched carefully. Some researchers believe loss of weight during pregnancy causes ketones to be liberated into the women’s blood. They feel that the ketones may be toxic to the babies developing brains. There is an easy way to measure ketone levels, by simply using a dipstick to test the urine. You can find dipsticks, such as ketostix at any drugstore. Obesity can cause various complications during pregnancy. Obesity, which is 20% or more overweight is associated with increased chance of pregnancy problems, such as:
Caesarian deliveries (women.com)
Besides weight control, exercise is also very important during pregnancy. Active mothers who exercise will feel better. Outdoor exercise and recreation give you a chance to get
sunshine and fresh air. Walking is particularly good because it strengthens some of the muscles you will use in labor.
Some exercises such as, tailor sitting, the tailor press, the tailor stretch, spinal C-Curve, and the deeply folded position are useful for strengthening muscles used in labor and delivery. Another great exercise called the kegel exercise, better known as the invisible exercise, is
designed to also strengthen pelvic muscles. These exercises are all quite simple to do and should be done for a few minutes each day during pregnancy.
Maintaining fitness levels while pregnant will provide strength and stamina during labor, and help you get back into shape more easily once the baby is born. Women who exercise before getting pregnant can keep doing so during pregnancy. However, women must remember to always consult with their obstetrician or other health care provider before beginning any new or rigorous exercise/activity while pregnant.
Last but definitely not least, there are the social environmental effects of pregnancy. Home life, work life, school, family and relationships all can have positive or negative effects on a mother’s social environment. Due to the social effects of teen pregnancy, it is considered a negative social environment. Teens are generally not ready to handle the nutritional and environmental needs during pregnancy. It is essential that a mother keeps and positive mental state and stress to a minimum, because if not, there are higher risks of miscarriages due to chemical reactions in the body. Stress can also lead to substance abuse and pregnant women should also stay away from drinking alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Because of damages proven by research, these habits have become socially unacceptable. Such ailments, like alcohol use are associated with premature birth, low birth weight, and increased labor complications. According to the Texas Department of Health, smoking women are two times more likely to suffer a miscarriage than non-smokers and drug use can be fatal to both the mother and child.
Not only is it important to eat right, exercise and keep a positive mental state during pregnancy. It is just as essential to be aware of the needs of a mother before getting pregnant. Pregnancy is a stage in life, where lifestyle plays a vital role in promoting a healthy life for both a mother and a child. This is why women who become pregnant should contact their doctor immediately to start optimizing their needs as well as the needs of the child.
Natal Care, The Pregnant Lifestyle. http://www.familyweb.com/pregnancy/natal,2000
Shanahan, Shelly, Nutririon and Weight. www.women.com, 2000.
Plumbo, Peg, Weight Gain Reccommendations. www.ivillage.com, 2000.