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Pregnancy is a beautiful journey that begins when a sperm fertilizes an egg.  As the fertilized egg which is sheltered in the uterus grows with each passing day, the mother’s awareness of the new life grows too. With awareness comes love and a sense of responsibility. One of the responsibilities the mother owes her child is that of healthy nutrition. Studies have shown that what a mother eats in pregnancy not only play a crucial role in the baby’s growth and development in the womb, it also influences the baby’s health through infancy, childhood and adulthood. This essentially means that a mother’s nutrition in pregnancy influences her child(ren)’s life from cradle to the grave. A well-balanced pregnancy diet is basically a healthy marriage of the macro and micronutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Folate, Iron, Iodine which ensures a healthy pregnancy and a healthy life thereafter for both mother and child. The following are key nutrients that should make up a pregnant woman’s diet.


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Vitamin A: This fat-soluble vitamin plays a crucial role in your baby’s visual development. It also supports their immune system. Healthy consumption of this vitamin in pregnancy ensures that the baby’s body stores enough of it and uses it to fight infection. Foods that are rich in Vitamin A include carrot, broccoli, spinach and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin C: This water-soluble vitamin is vital for collagen production. Collagen is one of the building blocks of your child’s body. It also helps your body to absorb iron from plant sources. The foetus needs this iron to build up its immune system and for cognitive development. Now, the human body cannot produce or store Vitamin C. Thus, the pregnant woman needs to consume foods like orange, guava, papaya, lemon that are rich in Vitamin C.

Folate: This nutrient is important from the earliest stages of foetal development. The healthy formation of neural tubes which eventually becomes the brain, nerves and spinal cord depends on it. But it’s difficult to obtain the recommended dosage from food. This is why most doctors prescribe the supplement. I don’t joke with folic acid when I’m pregnant. I advise all pregnant women to take this supplement. This one is not a matter of I don’t like drugs oh! Folic acid is not bitter but even if it were as bitter as bitter leaf juice, won’t you gladly take it three times a day, if you are told that it will make your baby healthy?

Iron: Pregnancy increases the risk of iron deficiency anaemia. One obvious indication of anaemia is loss of colour in the face, lips and nails. Pregnant women need iron. This important mineral makes haemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cell that carries oxygen to the tissues. Now, it is noteworthy that pregnant women need double the quantity of iron that non-pregnant women need. This is because their body needs to produce more blood to supply oxygen to the baby. Iron also supports a baby’s brain development and immune system. Foods that are rich in iron include unripe plantain, spinach, liver and other organ meat, legumes, red meat, fish.


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Vitamin D: It helps the body to absorb calcium, phosphate and other minerals, which both mother and foetus need. Calcium is what helps in healthy bone and teeth development from babyhood through childhood. One effective source of vitamin D is sunlight. But if for some reason you don’t get enough sunlight, you can get the Vitamin D that you need from fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, milk, yoghurt.

Iodine: A pregnant woman needs this mineral to produce thyroid hormones that aid the development of the baby’s nervous system. Good sources of iodine include yoghurt, milk, iodized salt.

In conclusion, in pregnancy, the foetus gets all the nutrients that it needs from the mother. Since a mother can’t give what she doesn’t have, she should make healthy food choices.

Sources

John Muir Health

Apta Africa


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This article was first published on 11th August 2021

udevi-obiamaka-angela

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address, obiudevi@yahoo.com


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