Jan 12, 2018 in Research

Nutrition and Pregnancy

It is a well-known fact a pregnant woman, as a magician, creates a baby during the pregnancy. Building material, which makes up the body of the child, does not appear out of nowhere. Sources of «building material» for the future baby are the nutrients from the mother's blood and her body's own tissues. So, paraphrasing a famous phrase "you are what you eat," it is fair to say that the unborn child is what his mother eats during pregnancy. Therefore, the expectant mothers tend to be more conscious of good nutrition. They should not eat for two, but they should make the healthiest choices for them and future baby. This research paper will be devoted to the problem on now to make the pregnancy nutrition useful and balanced. We will try to have a closer look at dietary requirements, in terms of calories and food that should be avoided during the pregnancy. Moreover, we will design one day menu (breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snack) that can be recommended to a female patient that is 32 week pregnant.

Nutrition has always been considered an important factor in the health of the child. The pregnancy diet does not much differ from the basic principles of healthy eating.  Women should definitely pay a great attention to fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.. Let us understand which nutrients mothers-to-be need most and where to find them in order to promote baby's growth and development.

From the first days of pregnancy the body needs a great amount of proteins - are basic building components for body tissue and cells. They are also a source of energy for most organisms. Foods high in proteins include fish products, meat, milk and diary products, cheese, mushrooms, nuts, beans, and eggs. Inadequate intake of protein rich food contributes to the development of anemia and reduced resistance to infectious diseases.  A pregnant woman needs food high in a carbohydrate-rich content, such as potatoes, bread from wheat flour, rice, beans, bran, pastas and cereals, vegetables and fruit. These products, in addition to carbohydrates, contain vitamins and minerals which help to improve bowel function. Fiber and coarse fibers contribute to strengthening and building of heart muscles.

Starting at 14 weeks of pregnancy, a woman should limit the amount of sugar, no more than 40-50 grams per day. Another source of energy is fat. The human body depends on it for optimal health. They are valuable as fats contain the important vitamins A, F, K, D which can only be taken up by the body together with fat. The diet of a pregnant woman should consist of up to about 40% vegetable fats, rich in unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. Sunflower seed oil, olive oil safflower oil contain these components. Animal fat, such as cream, butter, sour cream, is recommended for use in very small quantities

Good nutrition in pregnancy should include vitamins and minerals. While food is the best way to get the additional nutrients, future mothers should take vitamin and mineral supplements to reach the recommended levels.  Insufficient vitamin content in the diet can cause metabolic disorders in the mother's fetus of various complications during pregnancy, increased susceptibility to infections. This is particularly important to take folic acid (vitamin B) before and during the pregnancy. Folate helps prevent spinal cord, neural tube defects and serious abnormalities of the brain. Lack of this vitamin may result in preterm delivery and low birth weight. Throughout pregnancy a woman needs 800 mg of folic acid a day. Folic acid is found in dried peas and beans, leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals and citrus fruits.

During pregnancy particular attention should be given to calcium. The expectant mother and her baby need it for strong bones and teeth. Moreover, calcium helps nervous, muscular and circulatory systems run normally. A pregnant woman needs 1,000 mg a day, for instance, 2 slices of cheese have 40g of calcium, a glass of milk contains 250mL of it, some yogurt- 200g. Cereals, spinach, salmon and many fruit juices are the richest sources of calcium.

Another important vitamin to use is vitamin D as it helps build baby's bones and teeth. Its deficiency can affect growth retardation and have an impact on immune function, it puts at risk physical development of a baby. The mother needs 600 IU of vitamin D a day. Great sources of it are fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, fortified milk, eggs, yogurts and orange juice. For instance, 3 ounces of cooked catfish contain 570 IU, one cup of orange juice, fortified with vitamin D, has 100 IU of vitamin D, one cup of cereal contains 40 IU, one egg yolk has 20 IU.

It is important to avoid iron deficiency during pregnancy in order to meet the needs of the future baby and placenta. The expectant mother should eat a plenty of red meat, pork, chicken, green leaf vegetables and legumes. Also, it is recommended to eat plenty of zinc rich foods for development and normal growth in bones, brain and other parts of the baby’s body. It can be absorbed from legumes, nuts, cereals, fish, diary and red meat. Particular attention should be given to iodine, as it is essential to the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. Iodine occurs in seafood, dairy and in fortified bread, however iodine supplementation is recommended during this time to ensure that baby’s demands for growth are met.

During pregnancy the expectant mother should keep a healthy and safe diet which includes different kinds of food with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals described above. But right now our attention turns to the list of products to avoid during pregnancy, as they can result health complications during pregnancy. For instance, some fish, especially big and old ones, contain dangerous levels of mercury which can damage baby's nervous system. It is better for pregnant women to avoid shark, tilefish and king mackerel. It is especially important to avoid raw fish and refrigerated smoked seafood.  During pregnancy a woman is under the risk of being poisoned or infected, that is why poultry and meat should be fully cooked before eating. To eliminate any harmful bacteria, it is essential to wash thoroughly all raw fruits and vegetables, cut away damaged portions. Large quantities of vitamin A can cause health problems in the future child. Drinking too much caffeine and alcohol can be associated with a risk of miscarriage and stillbirth; it can cause heart problems, facial deformities, learning disabilities, mental retardation and low birth weight. Caffeine is found not only in coffee but also in cocoa, soft drinks, cola, teas and in chocolate. Instead of these drinks it is better to switch them to healthier choices such as water with a squeeze of lemon, skim milk or fruit juice.

Another important aspect of nutrition under pregnancy is dietary pattern. During the first breakfast (7-9 a.m.) a pregnant woman should get 30% of the energy value of the daily amount of food, during lunch (11-12 a.m.) - 20%, during dinner at 4-5 p.m. - 40%, during supper at 7-8 p.m. - 10%, before bed – some yogurt, broth hips). Break between meals should be at least 1.5 hours, the last meal should not be later than 2-3 hours before bedtime. As animal proteins stay longer in the stomach, providing a stimulating effect on the nervous system, meat and fish are best eaten in the morning for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner it is better to cook lacto-vegetarian dishes: cheese cakes, cottage cheese and vegetable casseroles, steamed vegetables. Such products as meat, fish, and potatoes are more useful in boiled or baked condition.

A survey found that a special menu for expectant mother should be planned more carefully than ordinary weekly menu. It is important that pregnant women should eat several smaller meals than three large meals a day. Taking everything into consideration, we created a one day menu for a woman that is 32 week pregnant. Let us have a look at it.


  • Oatmeal cereal;
  • Big banana;
  • Whole wheat toast;
  • 2 T peanut butter;
  • 1 cup of skim milk.


  • 2 sl veggie pizza;
  • Whole grain oil;
  • 1 T margarine;
  • Cucumber and tomato salad;
  • 1 c juice.


  • Baked potatoes and broiled sirloin steak;
  • Tossed salad;
  • 4 asparagus spears;
  • Tea.


  • Fruit yogurt;
  • Pudding.

We would like to summarize the chef points of what has just been said in the research work. Pregnant women should think about general healthy eating advice. They need a lot of nutrients (iron, folate, iodine, and zinc), vitamins and minerals (A, C, D), eat a varied diet based on low-fat protein, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, but limit sweets and choose fruits or natural fruit juices instead.  It is essential for them to minimize fried foods and to consume low-fat dairy such as cheese, low-fat milk and yogurt.  Some products should be avoided, for instance, caffeine, alcohol, raw fish and refrigerated smoked seafood. But for personalised dietary advice every pregnant woman should consult her doctor.

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