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Expert Explains The Importance Of Maternal Diet And Nutrition And How To Focus

Did you know a mother’s diet plays a crucial role in the development of her foetus? Poor nutrition during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in both the mother and child. Hence, it becomes important to take care of diet and nutrition during this crucial phase. We spoke to our expert Dr Archana Batra, Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator, who explained its importance and shared tips to enhance it.

Here’s why maternal nutrition matters and how mothers-to-be can focus on achieving optimal dietary intake for a healthy pregnancy and beyond.

Supporting Foetal Development

“During pregnancy, the foetus relies entirely on the mother for essential nutrients necessary for optimal growth and development. Adequate intake of key nutrients, such as folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein is crucial for the formation of the baby’s organs, bones, and brain”, said Dr Batra. According to a 2016 study, enhancing the mother’s diet before and throughout pregnancy reduces the chances of health complications for both the mother and her baby.

Ensuring Maternal Health and Well-being

Pregnancy places increased demands on the mother’s body, requiring additional energy and nutrients to support the physiological changes occurring during this period. Dr Batra added, “Optimal maternal nutrition helps prevent maternal nutrient deficiencies, supports maternal physiological functions, and reduces the risk of pregnancy-related complications, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and maternal anaemia.” A nourished mother is better equipped to cope with the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy and childbirth.

Also Read: First Trimester Of Pregnancy: Expert Explains Transformations To Expect During This Phase

Promoting Postpartum Recovery and Lactation

The postpartum period is a critical time for maternal recovery and lactation. Nutrient-rich foods help replenish maternal stores depleted during pregnancy and childbirth, support tissue repair, and facilitate breast milk production. “Breastfeeding mothers require adequate energy, fluids, and nutrients to sustain milk production and meet the nutritional needs of their growing infants. A balanced diet and adequate hydration are essential for promoting postpartum recovery and ensuring successful breastfeeding outcomes”, said Dr Batra.

Setting the Stage for Long-term Health

Maternal nutrition not only influences pregnancy outcomes but also has long-term implications for maternal and child health. Maternal dietary patterns during pregnancy can influence the child’s risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disorders. Mothers can help lay the groundwork for their child’s future health and well-being by prioritising nutrient-rich foods and healthy eating habits during pregnancy.

Also Read: Underweight During Pregnancy: Expert Explains Impact of Maternal Underweight On Pregnancy And Infant Health

Tips To Achieve Optimal Maternal Nutrition

To focus on achieving optimal maternal nutrition, mothers-to-be can follow these practical strategies, as listed by the expert:

Eat a Balanced Diet

Aim to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, dairy or dairy alternatives, and healthy fats.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and support maternal physiological functions, digestion, and circulation.

Take Prenatal Supplements

In addition to a healthy diet, take prenatal vitamins and mineral supplements as recommended by your healthcare provider to fill any nutritional gaps and support foetal development.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, and eat intuitively to honour your body’s changing nutritional needs throughout pregnancy and postpartum.

Seek Professional Guidance

You should consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider for personalised nutrition advice and guidance tailored to your individual needs and preferences. Mothers-to-be can optimise their health and the health of their babies, setting the stage for a lifetime of well-being and vitality by prioritising maternal nutrition and adopting healthy eating habits.

[Disclaimer: This article contains information provided by an expert and is for informational purposes only. Hence, we advise you to consult your expert if you are dealing with any health issues to get the necessary treatment.]

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