Pregnancy is a critical period in the life cycle because of many body changes that occur in the mother and the fetus. Good nutrition is important for a successful child delivery. Dietary advice relating to pregnancy is one of the major factors in determining the future well-being of a child conceived.
Good nutrition during pregnancy reduces childhood morbidity and mortality, and minimizes the risks of maternal death associated with pregnancy, Malnutrition of the mother is believed to cause decreased growth and mental retardation in the fetus. Low-birth-weight infants (less than 2500 g) have a higher mortality (death) rate than those of normal birth weight.
A healthy diet is very important if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow and will help to keep you fit and well. You don’t need to go on a special diet, but make sure that you eat a variety of different foods every day in order to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need.
FRUIT AND VITAMINS
As well as vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables provide fibre, which helps digestion and prevents constipation. Eat at least five portions of fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced fruit and vegetables each day. Always wash them carefully.
MEAT, FISH, EGGS, BEANS AND OTHER NON DAIRY SOURCES OF PROTEIN
Protein includes meat (except liver), fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts . These foods are all good sources of nutrients. Eat moderate amounts each day. Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry and cook using only a little fat. Make sure eggs, poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat and that juices have no pink or red in them. Try to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish.
CORN, RICE, YAMS, POTATOES, CASSAVA ROOTS, PASTA AND OTHER STARCH FOODS
Carbohydrates are satisfying without containing too many calories, and are an important source of vitamins and fiber. They include yams, cassava roots, bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, oats, noodles, maize, millet,, cornmeal and sweet potatoes. These foods should be the main part of every meal. Eat wholegrain varieties when you can.
MILK AND DAIRY FOODS
Dairy foods like milk, cheese, yogurt and cheese are important because they contain calcium and other nutrients that your baby needs. Eat two or three portions a day, using low-fat varieties whenever you can – for example, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat yogurt and half-fat hard cheese.
FOODS AND DRINKS THAT ARE HIGH IN FAT AND SUGAR
This food group includes all spreading fats, oils, salad dressings, cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, ice cream, cake, puddings and fizzy drinks. You should only eat a small amount of these foods. Sugar contains calories without providing any other nutrients that the body needs. If we eat more than we need, this can lead to weight gain. Eating more fatty foods is likely to make you put on weight. Having too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases the chance of developing heart disease. Try to cut down on food that is high in saturated fat and have foods rich in unsaturated fat instead.