Most of us consider pregnancy a very ordinary period of life. However, nutrition specialists have not ceased studying it till now in an attempt to draw nutritional plans for pregnant women during this critical time of their life.
The purpose of these plans is to ensure good health for both the mother and the healthy development of the fetus. Therefore, they consider the nine months of pregnancy a period of emergency that requires alertness, serious monitoring and the provision of every possible type of care. This is because this period has many dimensions and it is not just about a woman who is pregnant and afterwards delivers a male or a female baby; rather, pregnancy in the first place is a matter of a body within which another soul is being created and a new body that is going to separate from it. This situation requires caution so as to guarantee the safety of the two bodies from any harm.
1- A mother has to pay attention to her health, as this is a key factor in having a healthy pregnancy. For example, if a woman was suffering from any defect or deficiency in nutrients, then it would surely be doubled during the periods of pregnancy and nursing. Hence, the wife and the husband should take care of their health if they are thinking of having children. It is recommended for those who want to have children to start a new healthy lifestyle and habits, and to give up smoking.
2- Diversity of integrated food is necessary to increase the amount of calories, which come from sugars. Also, integrated diverse food provides the body with proteins, vitamins and mineral salts that are necessary for nutrition. The mother should consume a lot of dairy products, meat, whole cereals, and fresh vegetables. This helps the woman to satisfy the nutritional needs of pregnancy.
3- Red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese and milk are the main sources of proteins. A pregnant woman who is vegetarian is recommended to eat different kinds of cereals, nuts, pistachios and eggs daily given their nutritional value. Given the fact that vitamin B12 is rarely found in vegetables and is usually found in meat, pregnant women who are vegetarian suffer from deficiency in this vitamin.
4- Mineral salts are usually found in pistachios, sunflower seeds, plant buds, seaweed and seafood, which contains abundant amounts of vitamin B12.
5- Meat contains some calcium, but contains a high percentage of phosphorus, which impedes calcium absorption.
6- For many years, doctors kept advising pregnant women to avoid salt, but now they advise them to consume normal amounts of it. The tendency of a pregnant woman to eat olives and acidic foods might be a result of the body’s need for salt. Although the body needs salt to increase blood circulation, consuming excessive amounts of it causes retention of liquids in the body, high arterial blood pressure and other health problems that might negatively affect the mother and the fetus. Therefore, eating meat, cheese, eggs, escalope and turnip provides the body with its needs of salt and there is no need for eating salted foods such as potato chips.
7- It is better to choose fresh food instead of canned and preserved foods. In addition, a pregnant woman should eat a lot of fresh fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, which prevent constipation which is often developed during pregnancy.
8- A pregnant woman should drink 6-8 glasses or cups of water daily besides milk and herbal tea (not black tea). The tea that is extracted from the leaves of raspberry is one of the best kinds of tea for pregnant women as it strengthens the uterus.
9- The consumption of stimulants such as tea, coffee and some kinds of soda water (or drinks) must be decreased. This is because it was found that the caffeine in these drinks might be transmitted to the fetus through the placenta or transmitted to the baby through the mother’s milk. The caffeine affects the weight and growth of the baby and causes the child to be smaller than the normal size for his age.
10-Food that contains a high percentage of acids such as citrus fruits or juices increase nausea and the urge to vomit. Eating small amounts of starches and proteins could make the body accept them in a better way. Additionally, eating toast in the morning might alleviate nausea, as well as facilitate respiration and relaxation.
11-At the end of pregnancy (near delivery), you could consume a good amount of calcium or magnesium, about 1.5 grams of each, to alleviate the pains of the throes of childbirth and muscle spasms. If you are going to deliver your baby by means of a cesarean section, then it is better to have vitamin A and C in addition to zinc, some days or weeks before the operation, as they promote healing.
12-There are many alternative vitamins that are helpful during pregnancy and you could choose the suitable kind after consulting a doctor. If consuming vitamins causes nausea, then you should take it at the end of the day with a meal to avoid this problem.
13-Avoid excessive consumption of vitamin A during pregnancy because it causes damage to the fetus. Liver is among the foods that contain large amounts of vitamin A, so the pregnant woman should eat it at wide intervals.
14-Consumption of fats must be decreased as much as possible and it is recommended for the pregnant woman to cook using corn oil and refrain from using ghee, shortening or butter. This is because saturated fats are high in calories, which causes the pregnant woman to gain weight and accumulate fat. Of course, this makes it difficult for the pregnant woman to lose weight after giving birth. (1 gm of starches or proteins provides the body with 4 calories, while 1 gm of fats provides the body with 9 calories).