Nutritional Needs for Pregnant Women and Babies

Nutritional deficiencies in pregnant mothers, most often in the developing nations, cause complications during pregnancy and at birth and has long-term effects on the health of the child and the mother. At no other time in a woman's life is good nutrition more essential than during pregnancy. While the need for calories increases by 15 per cent, the requirement for some nutrients more than doubles, and a woman needs to plan her diet carefully to mee thes needs.

For the richer and urban women, doctor's advice and that of other health professionals providing prenatal care is needed plan an eating programme that supplies optimal nutrition for herself and her baby. For the poorer and rural women, support of her husband and family in providing nutritional requirement along with the advice of the health professionals in the area are needed. As a matter of fact, any woman planning a pregnancy should, even before trying to conceive, achieve her ideal weight. Women who are too thin often have low-birth-weight babies, while those who are overweight have a greater risk of gestational diabetes and giving birth to an oversized baby. Infants who are either too small or too large at birth often suffer serious problems, including respiratory disorders and death.

Pregnant Women Should Consume Plenty of:

Coping with Morning Sickness:

Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day, but it usually disappears after the first 3 months of pregnancy. In order to ease the nausea and vomiting, you should try these strategies :

Use of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements:

A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods in the recommended amounts will meet most needs of vitamins and minerals, but some doctors prescribe a multivitamin supplement as added insurance against deficiencies A pregnant woman needs 1200 mg of calcium a day, about 50 per cent more than normal. A. woman's iron requirement almost doubles during pregnancy, going from 13 to 25 mg daily. The Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) call for at least 400 micrograms of folate during pregnancy.

General Guidelines for Feeding an Infant :

Get to know your baby. No two infants are alike. Some enter the world ravenously hungry and demand to be fed a very hour or two. Others seem to prefer sleeping, and may even need to be awakened to eat.

If a baby is growing and developing at a normal pace, he's getting enough to eat. With a little practice, you'll learn how to adjust the diet to the baby's needs.

Physicians are in agreement that breast milk provides the best and most complete nutrition for full-term infant. Premature and low-birth-weight babes may need special supplements

The advantages of breast -feeding are

In the early postpartum period, nursing stimulates uterine contractions that help prevent haemorrhaging and return the uterus to its normal size.

Breast milk is more convenient and economical than formula milk; it is sterile, portable, and always the right temperature.

Nursing promotes a special kind of mother-infant bonding and closeness

Breast -fed babies have a reduced incidence of bacterial meningitis and respiratory and intestinal disorders. Recent studies show that breast -fed infants, later on in life, have a reduced incidence of allergies, obesity, inflammatory bowel disorders, asthma and other chronic lung disorders, heart disease and some types of cancer.

Women who breast -feed appear to have reduced risk of premeonopausal breast cancer and postmenopausal osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)

Introducing New Foods in the First Year :

1 to 3 months:

First Month : Breast milk -enough for weight gain and to yield regular soft stools. Formula-60 -120ml per feeding (every 2-4 hours).

Second and Third Months :
120 to 140ml each feeding, six feedings a day

4 to 6 Months :
Total intake -About 800ml of breast milk or formula, plus 1or2 tsps of new foods two or three times a day.

By 4 Months :
140 to 160 ml each feeding, five or six times a day

At 4 Months : Start with rice, followed by oatmeal and barley. Begin with1/2 teaspoon; gradually work upto 1 or 2 tsps.

At 4 to 5 Months : Start with small amounts of pureed vegetables (peas, carrots, etc); after a few weeks add strained or pureed fruits (apples, bananas, pears etc.)

At 5 to 6 Months :
Soft cooked and pureed meat and fish (No bones).Small amounts of fruit juice (apple, mango, papaya).

7 to 8 Months : Total intake -by the end of 6 months, about 800ml to 1litre of milk; 50-100gms of cereal and/or pureed baby food should be given at each of the baby's three meals

For breast milk continue or wean to bottle. 5 or 6 feedings per day. 140 to 160 ml per feeding 4 or 5 times a day. Begin serving finger foods, such as s dry toast squares or bite-size cereals. ¼ to ½ cup of starchy foods over three meals. Four ¼ to1/2 cup servings of non-citrus juices, fruits, and vegetable. Two 15 to 25gms portions of meat and cheese.

9 to12 Months : 750 to 900 calories needed per day divided into three meals and two snacks.

Daily Intake : 700ml of breast milk or formula per day (400-500 calorie). 500mg of yogurt and milk puddings.

Mixed cereals, potatoes, rice, bread noodles -. 1/2 to ¾ cup per day. Fruits and vegetables including juices-six ¼ cup servings a day.

Egg yolks (no whites before first birthday). 75 gms of meat per day. Moderate amounts of unsalted butter, small amounts of jam on bread, toast and crackers (no peanut butter).

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