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Health Account: Nutrition Guidelines While Pregnant and Breastfeeding

The importance of good nutrition is, perhaps, most crucial during pregnancy and after birth, to help sustain your energy and keep you and your baby healthy.

While you are pregnant, your baby requires many nutrients that he/she will receive from your placenta. Most of these nutrients are taken from the mother’s reserves. So if you think of your body as a bank with a checking and a savings account, the baby will take its food from your checking account. If you start pregnancy with any vitamin and mineral deficiencies, then your nutrition checking account will quickly be depleted, resulting in the need to tap into your nutritional savings account to ensure your baby’s needs are met. If you are unable to maintain a hearty diet, you may end up in the negative and even deplete your savings. In fact, we recommend visits to your midwife or physician, even before you plan to get pregnant, to help you get off to a good start. Once you are pregnant, it is important to eat well and eat a variety of foods to keep healthy.

If it takes the baby 9 months to grow, then it takes at least 8 weeks to 9 months for a mother’s body to completely recover after birth.  If you’re breastfeeding, your body may take up to 2 years to completely return to normal.

Good nutrition is an essential part of your journey during this phase. This is not the time to start a restrictive diet.  This is the time when you need to make sure that you are replenishing your checking and savings account to have the right energy to care for yourself and your baby. 

Finding that balance depends on a lot of factors, but here are some essentials to help you while you are pregnant and breastfeeding to make sure you get adequate calories and hydration from healthy sources:

  • Colorful Diet: Choose from a variety of foods, keeping your diet colorful and delicious, and maintaining a balance.  Making sure you keep a colorful diet will provide you with the nutrients you need.   
  • Well- Rounded Meals: Eating well-rounded meals help ensure a smooth recovery.
  • Maintain A Warm Diet: Keeping your body warm is important. So avoid cold drinks and cold foods as much as you can. This helps calm your body, and also promotes relaxation and sleep. Feeling good and eating well helps promote a good milk supply.
  • Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate: A mother needs to maintain good hydration.  The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3L per day (10cups a day) and women who breast-feed should consume 3.1Liters (about 13cups) per day.  During pregnancy, water maintains healthy cellular function for you and your baby and also keeps amniotic fluid at optimum levels, which is vital to the baby’s healthy development.  Breastfeeding mothers also vouch for the positive effect of drinking water on increasing milk production. In addition, water helps maintain good digestion and elimination.

 

Pregnancy and birth is a wonderful time of growth for you and your baby. Enjoy every minute of it and nourish it with your love and good nutrition.  


 

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Contributed by Sahar Al Husseini RN CNM IBCLC

Sahar is a mother and baby educator, who works for Inspiratus Loving Care in the UAE. Sahar is a US trained Certified Nurse and Midwife with over 8 years of experience in the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Sahar has worked in internationally accredited hospitals, and attended to over 1,200 births. Sahar can be contacted at Lovingcare@inspiratus.us .

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