Health care providers contribute immensely in improving health outcomes among pregnant women, leading to reduced costs and patient satisfaction. For the healthy growth of the unborn child, the pregnant mother needs to take a balanced diet. Pregnant women tend to increase their calorie intake during their pregnancy. Healthy behaviors can assist in preventing morbidity and mortality among pregnant women. If nutrition requirements are not achieved, severe consequences may fall on the mother and the infant. Clinicians play a critical role in helping pregnant women to sustain their health through observing their nutrition. They advise pregnant mothers on balanced nutrition and planning for relaxation during pregnancy. Above all, planning on what to eat and making preparation of meals in advance is an essential way of making healthy food choices. This study will focus on health promotion and disease prevention in nutrition requirements during pregnancy.
Nutrition during Pregnancy
Health promotion is extremely fundamental in the prevention of diseases during pregnancy. The birth outcome depends on how a pregnant mother observes her diet. Adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), can create a lifetime effect on the development, quality of life, and health cost of a newborn (Abu-Saad and Fraser, 2010). Sometimes, health workers may not have adequate information to guide pregnant mothers on how to increase their nutrient needs through health practices and behaviors. A health promotion guideline is critical in ensuring that pregnant women meet the nutrient requirements for the normal growth of the fetus. Nutritional requirements can assist in preventing birth defects, decreased mental potential, or even death.
Pregnancy is an exciting moment in the life of many mothers. Many mothers fill their minds with various questions involving health and nutrition. Women’s nutrient needs go up during their pregnancy. Their metabolic rate during pregnancy may rise up to 25 percent. Although many women tend to believe that they are eating food for two, the fetus does not require the same calories as an adult. The required nutrients are essential in protecting maternal health, as well as influencing birth outcomes. Some nutrient requirements cannot be met through food intake, thus, supplements should be provided to balance the nutrition requirement.
Pregnant women require more food, in addition to micronutrient supplements. When the intake of energy and other types of nutrients fail to rise, the body begins to utilize its own reserves, leading to the weakening of the pregnant mother. A pregnant woman requires 2500 calories per day, and if she is carrying twins, her need rises to 3500 calories (Nutrition and Weight gain During Pregnancy, 2013). Energy requirements rise to the peak level during the third trimester. During pregnancy, an insufficient weight gain often leads to low birth weight and, consequently, to infant death. Every year, more than 24 million babies in the world are born underweight while in the US alone the number of babies born underweight is above 240,000 (Kaul, 2002). The death rate of such babies is often higher than that of babies born with normal birth weight.
Healthy eating involves taking foods that contain all the nutrients that the body requires. A healthy body will require proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fats (Nutrition and Weight gain During Pregnancy, 2013). Folic acid is quite essential during pregnancy. Folic acid (or vitamin B) reduces the likelihood of delivering a baby suffering from a neural tube defect. Some of the food sources that are rich in folic acid include green vegetables, tomatoes, dried peas, dried beans, mustard green, bananas, and citrus fruits. A pregnant woman should take between 0.4 mg to 0.8 mg of folate each day.
Vitamin D shortage is among the most widespread medical conditions all over the globe. Low vitamin D in pregnancy has been found to cause neonatal bone metabolism in the infant due to low serum calcium. Pregnant women should take foods such as salmon, soymilk, egg yolks, and fortified cereals. Vitamin D is also synthesized from sunlight. Although research is still going on concerning the correct daily intake of vitamin D, pregnant women should take 400 IU per day (Dobbins, 2010). However, they should avoid foods such as eggs, meat, unpasteurized milk, and poultry. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in the intellectual and visual development of the unborn child. These fats have also been proven to eradicate the risks associated with heart disease, as well as stroke. The recommended daily diet of omega-3 fats is two servings of salmon, tuna, or catfish per week. Some fishes hold a high concentration of mercury, thus, should be avoided. These include shark, tilefish, and sword fish.
Weight gain during pregnancy varies with the age of the mother, fetal progress, and the current health situation of the mother. Having excessive or inadequate weight gain may inflict the health of the mother and the fetus. According to the Institute of Medicine, USA, a woman whose BMI (Body Mass Index) range between 18.5 and 24.9 should add between 25 and 35 pounds during her pregnancy while an overweight woman should only add 15 to 25 pounds (What To Eat, 2013). Ideally, pregnant women should gain weight gradually during their entire pregnancy period. During the first trimester, she should gain at most 2 kilograms, and 0.5 kilograms per week during her second, as well as, her third trimesters (Healthy eating during pregnancy, 2013).
The following is a case study of Annete, who was fighting to increase her weight during her pregnancy. Annete had been trying to gain weight while she was still suffering from anemia. Her clinician was worried because she had only added 3 kilograms since her conception 20 weeks ago. She has been nauseating, making it hard to eat enough food. She was also concerned that her child may not be getting enough nutrients. During her first visit to the clinic, her clinician advised her to take vitamin supplements, but her condition seemed not to change.
Annete decided to consult another clinician, who advised her to take her meals whenever she felt hungry, rather than the usual three meals. Annete was informed that by 20 weeks, she should have gained at least 5.3 kilograms. She was advised to continue with her supplements and eat more vegetables and red meat. In addition, she was advised to avoid junk foods and to drink natural fruit juices, which are rich in vitamin C. Annete recovered her weight gain during her 25th week, and she had already recovered from anemia.
Application of Health Promotion and Disease Control
Many pregnant women do not seek advice from their clinicians; hence, they fall at risk of developing complications during their pregnancy period. Advice on nutrition requirements can be utilized to guide pregnant women on how to maintain the right weight and safeguard the fetus. This encourages them to cultivate proper health behavior. Pregnant women can utilize nutrition interventions to check their weight, as well as observe what kind of foods to avoid preterm births and infant mortality. Health promotion is fundamental in the prevention of deaths and reduction of costs that could be incurred in taking care of preterm babies.
Health promotion is crucial in the prevention of diseases during the pregnancy period. Pregnant mothers should seek assistance from their physicians on what kind of food to take and at which ratio. Healthy eating ensures that pregnant mothers get all the nutrients that their bodies need for the healthy growth of the fetus. Nutritional requirements are extremely essential in ensuring that the fetus is developing normally, in addition to eliminating any possible risks of birth defects. Some nutrients that pregnant women require may not be found in the foods, thus, supplements are necessary to boost their nutrient requirements. Nutrition needs depend on the weight of the pregnant mother, as too much food may also affect the birth outcome.
Abu-Saad, K., & Fraser, D. (2010). Maternal nutrition and birth outcomes. Epidemiologic Reviews, 32(1), 5-25.
Dobbins, M. (2010, March 10). Diet Tips for Pregnant Women. Hartford Courant. Retrieved on 17 March 2014 from http://www.courant.com/business/nationworld/wire/sns-health-pregnant-women-diet-tips,0,4729349.story
Healthy eating during pregnancy (June 2013). Queensland Government. Retrieved on 19 March 2014 from http://www.health.qld.gov.au/nutrition/resources/antenatal_ngpl.pdf
Kaul, C. (2002). Statistical handbook on the world’s children. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Oryx Press.
Nutrition and Weight gain During Pregnancy (2013, February 14). WebMD. Retrieved on 17 March 2014 from http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/nutrition-and-weight-gain-during-pregnancy-topic-overview
What To Eat During Pregnancy (2013, July 15). MNT. Retrieved on 17 March 2014 from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/246404.php