Not getting enough nutrients can have serious consequences for both the baby and the mother. Babies who don’t get enough nutrients can have stunted brain development, and the growth of the placenta can be stunted as well. This can increase the risk of miscarriage and early delivery, and babies may be born with a low birth weight.
“A well-nourished mother will produce a healthy baby and if the baby’s a good weight, it will be more active, mentally alert, and will have less colic, diarrhea, anemia and infections,” Dr Oddy says.
Women who are pregnant need to be mindful of how much they’re eating. They only need about 300-500 more calories a day than they did before they were pregnant. Pregnant women should also limit how much empty calorie foods they eat, such as fast food, sugary candy, chocolate, and soda. If a pregnant woman gains too much weight or is obese, it puts her at risk for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. These health problems can also affect the baby later in life.
“Go for nutrient-dense foods rather than just kilojoules – solid, heavy wholemeal breads and cereals, lots of vegetables and fresh fruit, legumes, fish, chicken and low-fat dairy,” Dr Oddy says.
Pregnant women need to make sure that they are getting enough foliate, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids to help prevent neural tube defects. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for baby’s brain development.
Unhealthy eating habits during pregnancy can result in a number of maternal problems, including anemia and pre-eclampsia. Additionally, the mother may experience more fatigue, mood swings, morning sickness, cramps, and other complaints. To avoid these issues, it is recommended that the mother maintain a healthy, nutrient-rich diet throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.