The only time I weighed as much as almost 80kg was when I was pregnant. My bump was not that big, but I gained weight in practically all other parts of my body. You name it; boobs, booty, my hip size increased by more than 7 inches. And don’t even mention a waist, as I had none. You obviously know that your body will grow and change during the various stages of pregnancy as your baby develops, but no one really tells you exactly what to expect and everyone is different so it’s not exactly a science.
In fact, the maternity clothes I wore back then would positively swallow me now. But now, at the slightest sign of stress, I begin to lose weight extremely rapidly.
I suffered from swollen feet with both pregnancies, so I was asked to reduce my salt intake. But that was not really feasible for me, as I was the only one in the family with salt intake restrictions. Every other person did not feel so inclined. After having to trash a few meals, I knew it was not going to work. Besides, I liked my seasoned meals too much to avoid them completely. So I lived with my swollen feet for months, using pillows at night to keep them elevated.
Touching my feet, when I was still able to, my finger would sink in and the flesh would slowly rebound. But it was a situation that I did not pay attention to, but I know now that some swelling around the ankle and feet is normal during pregnancy. Mine was an additional cause for concern, as it made walking a challenge, especially if I had been sitting for a while.
During my first pregnancy, I ate small juicy grapes as though they was going out of fashion. My husband would bring them home every night. His logic was that eating fruits of any kind would surely give the babies beautiful skin, not forgetting the wonders for the health of the mother. So, I ate grapes mostly, followed by apples and other fruits he would randomly buy.
I would keep them in my bag, when I attended lectures. My friends would tease me about it, and would point anyone who complained of hunger in my direction, with the command to search my bag, because there was always something to eat…and it was mostly fruits. Fruits were my snacks and my craving. A perfect scenario, wouldn’t you say?
By the time I was pregnant the second time, my cravings had changed to starchy meals with sumptous Egusi soup, or just junk food. I ate a lot, and it wasn’t exactly a healthy diet. When the craving for, say, bread and scrambled eggs hit me, nothing else would suffice, and I wouldn’t be content until I had indulged to my heart’s content. And it was the same for other meals that I liked. Those were the extremes I lived with most of that pregnancy.
But with the benefits of hindsight and better knowledge, I know that I had done some scary things to my body, and, by extension, the babies I was carrying, by the kind of extreme eating habits I had. It is common knowledge that whatever the mom-to-be eats is the source of nourishment for the baby, so we have a nine month assignment to keep baby well nourished. For optimal pregnancy, there are certain nutrients that the baby needs.
One of them is the well known Folic acid, which is found in foods but is also available as a supplement. It is crucial in preventing birth defects in the baby’s brain and spine. Folic acid can be found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, enriched cereals, breads and pastas.
Another nutrient that a pregnant woman really needs is Calcium. This is necessary for the development of bones and teeth. If a pregnant woman is not eating enough of calcium, then the nutrient will be taken from her body, which will lead to a deficiency in the long run for her. Foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified juices and foods, sardines or salmon with bones, some leafy greens are sources of calcium.
Now this is one nutrient whose lack will be obvious. Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of Iron a day, which is double the amount needed by women who are not expecting, according to nutritionists. The increased demand for this nutrient is because it is needed to make more blood to supply the baby with oxygen. Getting too little iron during pregnancy can lead to anaemia, a condition resulting in fatigue and an increased risk of infections. Some of the foods that contain iron include meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereal, and don’t forget the glass of orange juice.
This is one of the easiest nutrients that a mom-to-be can get, and most women eat a lot of it too. It is Protein. It is described as a “builder nutrient”, because it helps to build important organs in the baby, such as the brain and heart. Word of caution here though, it needs to be lean protein, so forgo the skin of the chicken, I know it is delicious, and I enjoyed it too, regardless of what was said and written. But the truth is, more benefits are obtained from lean protein. The food sources include meat, poultry, fish, beans, peas, eggs and nuts.
Now, we know the nutrients we need during pregnancy but how should every meal look? In what proportions, should the proteins be consumed? The nutritionists came to the rescue once more, as they suggested that each meal should be nice combinations of fruits and vegetables, meaning they should be half of the plate, and a quarter of the plate should be whole grains (oat meal, wheat, pasta, or even bread) and the last quarter of it should be lean protein. Finish that up with a dairy product, and you can be sure that baby would be really happy with its mommy.
This is the ideal recommendation for a good pregnancy diet. While it might not be always achievable, it is a standard to strive for.
So, there you have it. For the nine month journey, our babies deserve the best nutrients they can get from us. So, let’s eat right for our babies sakes.
Have a great pregnancy!
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