It is important for a pregnant woman to eat a healthy diet. Unless she has a specific health problem (e.g., diabetes mellitus or edema) balancing carbohydrates, fat, and proteins; and eating a variety of foods, including dairy products and several fruits and vegetables all contribute to a healthy pregnancy. A pregnant woman may choose to consult her obstetrician for specific advice. Some specific nutritional needs for pregnancy include:
Folic acid (also called folate or Vitamin B9) is strongly needed at the start of pregnancy, and even before conception. Folic acid is needed for the closing of fetus' neural tube. It thus helps prevent spina bifida, a very serious birth defect. Folates (from folia, leaf) are abundant in spinach (fresh, frozen or canned), and are also found in green vegetables, salads, melon, hummus, and eggs. In the United States and Canada, most wheat products (flour, noodles) are supplemented with folic acid.
Calcium and iron are particularly needed by the rapidly growing fetus. Pregnant women should eat enough dairy products (for calcium) and red meat (for iron) if they are not lactose intolerant or vegetarian. Women who do not eat dairy or meat can obtain calcium and iron from fortified soy milk and juice, soybeans, and certain leafy greens. Care providers may prescribe iron pills if pregnant women develop iron deficiency anemia. Calcium is effective only if women also obtain enough Vitamin D. The best way to get vitamin D is to sunbathe each day for 10–15 minutes. Salmon and fatty fishes are also good sources of vitamin D.
Fluoride is critical for development of teeth by increasing binding of calcium, strengthening the enamel. If water or salt does not contain fluoride, supplements are recommended during the third trimester. Many municipalities and water treatment plants add fluoride to the water.
Fat from salmon, trout, tuna, herring, sardine, mackerel, and some chicken eggs contain long-chain omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids that are needed to build neuron membranes. Thus fatty fish intake during pregnancy may provide nutrition for proper brain and retina development of the fetus. However, large fish such as tuna and swordfish may contain too much toxic mercury, and one should balance risks with benefits: fish two or three times a week seems to bring enough good fat, but not too much mercury. Omega-3 fatty acids are also present in walnuts, flaxseed, and marine algae.
Dangerous bacteria or parasites may contaminate foods, particularly listeria and toxoplasma, toxoplasmosis agent. To avoid those two hazards, hygiene rules should be strictly adhered to: carefully wash fruits and raw vegetables; over-cook remainders, meat and processed meat; avoid raw-milk cheeses (listeria); try to avoid contact with cat feces (toxoplasma); clean the fridge often with diluted chlorine (then rinse).
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Information on this website has been sourced from Wikipedia contributors. Pregnancy. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. www.wikipedia.org