Today I am going to teach you a thing about nutrition during pregnancy. Why? Because my married friend Libbie asked:
"I have this friend who is pregnant. What should she do to make sure her baby does not come out a mutant?"
I'm so glad you asked Libbie! Mutant nutrition is one of my favorite topics! There is also a lot of information, so I am going to split it up into 3 different posts titled:
- So You’re Thinking About Putting a Bun In The Oven? (You’re reading this one right now!)
- So You’ve Got a Bun in the Oven
- So the Bun Is Out of the Oven, What Now?
For my first post I am going to talk about… PREconception nutrition! That’s right, you’re not even pregnant yet. You might ask “But Molly? Isn’t that just your normal diet?” and I would say “No you don’t know what you are talking about, I’m right and you’re wrong. That will be a $50 co-pay and I don’t accept your insurance. “
Okay, so you might be kind of right… preconception nutrition is very similar to your general healthy diet, but there are a few things that you should know about…
1. Folate (AKA folic acid in supplement form).
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that aids in metabolism and cell production. Why is folate important in pregnancy? Because it helps prevent neural tube defects. These defects can develop within 21 days after conception! Many people don't even know they are pregnant yet! That is why I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having good folate status before pregnancy. In fact, any woman of childbearing age should make sure they are getting enough folate (accidents do happen).
Have you heard the good news? The United States fortifies its grains with folate so you might be getting enough without even knowing it! The recommended amount is 400-800 micrograms a day. If you don't think you can get this much through food, then you should take a USP verified supplement. I think it is also important to note that excess supplemental folate can increase your risk for cancer so don’t go overboard, okay?
Good sources of folate (and other information) found here!
Don't do it. You may have heard that alcohol is okay in moderation during pregnancy. It's not. The amount of alcohol you have doesn't really matter as much as when you have the alcohol. If you have a drink during a critical development period then this could interfere with development and cause fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
|Maybe she doesn't know she is pregnant?|
Iron deficiency anemia is a common problem for pregnant women. It can cause fatigue and weakness for the mother but it also increases the risk of early delivery and developmental problems for the child. The baby is also more likely to suffer from iron deficiency, too. This is why it is super important that the mother has good iron stores before she gets knocked up. The recommended amount for non-prego ladies is 18mg a day but pregnant women should get about 27 mg a day. This can be difficult to get through the diet so a supplement may be necessary.
Calcium is always a concern for women because of osteoporosis, but when you get pregnant you especially want to make sure you are meeting the 1000mg/day requirement because your baby needs it for science reasons. Okay, they need it for bone, teeth, muscle, and heart development. If you don't have an adequate store of calcium then your baby will start taking it from your own bones. I know, Selfish, right? If you hate milk and yogurt like I do, then it can be difficult to get enough calcium. So, again, a supplement may be necessary.
5. Maternal health
Lastly, it's important for the mother to be in good health. One of the best things a mother can do for her baby is to take care of herself. I'm sure you all know what "taking care of yourself" means, but I will summarize because I like to hear myself type.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet. This means getting plenty of fruits and vegetables and limiting processed foods. Choose whole grains and lean proteins. Eat your fiber!
- Get regular exercise! It doesn't have to be strenuous. It could simply be going on a walk, riding your bike to the store, or taking the stairs. Anything counts! It's recommended that you get 150 minutes of exercise a week but if that's not possible then do as much as you can. Studies have shown that only 10 minutes of exercise a day can improve your health.
- Stay on top of any health concerns. If you suffer from any health conditions like hypertension or diabetes, make sure they are under control because it may affect the baby. Of course, some things are out of our control, but being aware of the problem and constant monitoring may help prevent any future problems. Even if you don't have any health conditions it would be a good idea to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked to have a reference value for the future.
|Here, let me check that for you.|
Okay, so that is it for today. I know I this information isn’t very helpful to your “friend” Libbie but she can look forward to my next posts.
If you are so excited about pregnancy and nutrition and you just can’t wait for my next post, then I suggest you do your own research (and maybe appreciate me a little more) and check out these websites: