Nutrition/Lifestyle

NUTRITION AT PRE-CONCEPTION

The joy of having a child comes with anxiety especially for first time mothers. The new lifestyle you have to embrace, your wardrobe changing, clothes no longer fit for your old self. The changes in lifestyle also follow feeding. At the thought of having a child, your diet should start changing as well.
Tips for healthy feeding before conceiving
Research shows that feeding well before becoming pregnant will lead to a healthy baby and mother . A woman planning to conceive should consider changing their diet . A variety of foods should be consumed at every meal to get adequate nutrients . These include
1. Energy giving foods, such as cereals like maize meals, rice, millet, sorghum, roots and tubers e.g. potatoes, cassava, and plantains like bananas.
2. Protein giving foods include animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, and fish, and plant products such as legumes like beans, peas, soya, and groundnuts.
3. Minerals and vitamin rich foods such as fruits and vegetable
4. Regular consumption of fiber rich foods which are essential for movements of the gastrointestinal tract (whole grains, fruits, vegetables).
5. Regular exercise
6. Adequate consumption of water (at least 2liters per day)
7. Regular deworming

Worth noting
1. Tea, coffee, spinach and soya beans. These should be taken two or more hours before or after taking iron/calcium containing foods or supplements.
2. Oranges, tangerines, mangoes, meat and fish products, tomatoes, green peppers,or vitamin c containing foods enhance absorption of nutrients thus should be taken after or with food.
Do you know your BMI(Body Mass Index)?Before you become pregnant , check whether your BMI falls within the normal range!
The BMI normal value for pregnancy should be 18.5 or higher but lower than 25.

NUTRITION IN PREGNANCY

Nutrient needs increase during pregnancy, without enough intake of nutrious food , a pregnant woman and her unborn baby are vulnerable to complications and at worst death.

N.B
An underweight mother should increase their food intake to gain the required weight. Pregnant mothers should eat a variety of foods. In addition to the regular 3 meals eaten , a pregnant mother should take an extra meal per day.
Food to be eaten during pregnancy
Energy giving foods, such as cereals like maize meals, rice, millet, sorghum, roots and tubers e.g. potatoes, cassava, and plantains like bananas.
Protein giving foods include animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, and fish, and plant products such as legumes like beans, peas, soya, and groundnuts.
Minerals and vitamin rich foods such as fruits and vegetable
Regular consumption of fiber rich foods which are essential for movements of the gastrointestinal tract (whole grains, fruits, vegetables).
Important micronutrients/vitamins you need before and during pregnancy and the types of food they are contained
1. Folic acid
Folic acid when taken in adequate amounts at preconception and conception, reduces the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defect (NTD) in the newborn
Sources of folic acid
Dark green leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach), citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals.
Supplement dosage

400 micrograms a day for one month before becoming pregnant.

Consequences of deficiency

-Risk of infants having neural tube defect.
-Higher risk of abnormal pregnancy outcome, including eclampsia, and premature delivery, and birth defects such as Clubfoot and cleft palate.

NB. Folic acid supplementation should be started at least one month before becoming pregnant

2. Iodine

Uses

-Iodine helps prevent iodine deficiency disorders like goiter
-Cretinism in children born to mothers with iodine deficiency while pregnant. This condition is characterized by mental deficiency, stunted growth, hearing, and sight defects.

Symptoms of iodine deficiency
Enlargement of thyroid gland (goiter) is the first sign of iodine deficiency, and presents as a swelling on the forward lower part of the neck.

Sources of iodine
Iodized salt,
Consequences of deficiency
-Cretinism (mental deficiency, deafness, dwarfism.)
-Goiter

3.Calcium
As the fetus is developing in the first three months, it uses / diminishes calcium levels of the mother. Calcium intake before pregnancy and during pregnancy is thus very important to have enough calcium for both the unborn baby and the mother
Uses of calcium
Calcium is needed for building bones and teeth, for blood clotting, for regulating nerve and muscle activity and for absorption of iron.
Sources of calcium
Dairy products (yoghurt, milk, and cheese), eggs, fish, beans, soybeans, beef and cereals like whole millet and rice.
Consequences of deficiency
-Depletes bone stores, rendering the bones weak and prone to fracture.
-Risks of pre-eclampsia

4.Iron
Adequate intake of iron before and during pregnancy prevents anemia

Signs of anemia

-Body weakness
-Easy fatiguability
-Pallor of mucus membranes
-Palpitations on exertion

Sources of iron

-Liver, red meat, kidney, fish, chicken, millet, ground nuts, and green leafy vegetables.

Avoid!

Avoid foods containing iron absorption inhibitors (tea/ coffee) just before, during and shortly after meals, and to consume foods containing caffeine two or more hours before or after iron containing foods or iron supplements.

Take!

Take of foods containing iron absorption enhancers just before, during and after meals
e.g foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, tangerines, mangoes, meat and fish products, tomatoes. green peppers etc.

Consequences of deficiency

-Increased peri-natal and maternal mortality
-low birth weight
-Increased risk of pre-term birth
5. Vitamin A

Uses during pregnancy
-Embryonic development, mucous membranes, infection resistance, bone growth, fat metabolism e.t.c
Sources of vitamin A
Carrots, pumpkins, green leafy vegetables, pawpaws, foods fortified with vitamin A like cooking oil.
Avoid!
Supplementation with vitamin A is NOT recommended because it provides high doses that lead to birth defects and liver toxicity.

WEIGHT GAIN IN PREGNANCY

Gaining weight during pregnancy could pose a risk as much as having little weight
Potential problems with too much or too little weight gain during pregnancy
– Women who gain too little weight are at increased risk of having anemia, premature rupture of membranes, and a low birth weight baby
– Women who gain too much weight are at increased risk of premature labor, larger babies, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure.
It is best to aim for something near the recommended gain shown in the table below.
Pre Pregnancy BMI Recommended Gain during Pregnancy Based on Pre-Pregnancy BMI (kg)
Normal (BMI > 18.5 – <25.0) 11.5 – 16.0
Underweight (BMI<18.5) 12.5 – 18.0 Overweight (BMI> 26-27) 7.0 – 11.5
Twin pregnancy 16.0 – 20.5
Obese (BMI ≥ -30.0 ≥6.0
(Adapted from the Institute of Me

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