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Pre/Post Natal


Introduction

The nutritional state of the mother before and during pregnancy is influential in determining the outcome of a pregnancy and the health of the baby. Nutritional factors contribute to birth weight and risk of neural tube defects as well as the strength of a baby's immune system. Newborns that are small for gestational age are at increased risk for hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease as they age.

Females with an increased body size, specifically with a BMI over 27.8 are at a greater risk for having gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension, and cesarean section. Pregnancy induced hypertension often leads to pre-term birth, increasing risk of neural tube defects and cardiac defect in the infant. Because of these factors, it is to achieve a healthy body weight pre-conception. Fertility complications for males and females are closely linked to body weight and health status. Hormone testing and hormonal balance (male and female health) through diet can increase chances of conception. Mother's with a low BMI (body mass index) may benefit from weight gain pre-conception. It is necessary to include high quality foods that will not interfere with hormones while trying to gain weight.

In addition to pre-pregnancy maternal weight, healthy weight gain during pregnancy is the second greatest indicator of healthy fetal development and birth. This also helps determine the mother's ease of returning to pre-pregnancy weight and optimizes milk production. Nutritional Counseling (online or in person) can also help manage other pregnancy complications such as heartburn, food aversions and cravings, nausea and vomiting, and constipation or diarrhea. Swelling or edema as well as hypertension can also be controlled by diet.

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Increased Risk Factors

Obesity; low body mass index or fat stores; multiple births; maternal age (over 35 or under 20); diabetes, gestational diabetes, or family history of diabetes; anemia and vitamin deficiency; placenta previa and bleeding during pregnancy; hyperemesis gravidarum; thyroid disease; asthma; lupus or fibromyalgia; hypertension and preeclampsia; kidney disease; low or excessive amniotic fluid; pica; Hughes disorder; obstetric cholestasis or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.

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Natural Treatment

Many women are under the false impression that they can eat whatever they want during pregnancy. In reality, nutritional needs and the quality and quantity of foods actually increase. The best way to have a natural, healthy pregnancy is to optimize your nutrition (online or in person) - for both you and for your baby! Keep cravings under control, prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies, curb nausea and vomiting, and prevent or control eclampsia (high blood pressure) by maximizing what you are eating and how you are combining foods. Also, it is important to clearly understand the do's and don'ts of pregnancy eating such as how much fish is safe to eat and which cheeses to choose. EB Nutrition Dietitians are skilled at helping mothers learn about the quality, quantity and safety of foods during pregnancy.

Mothers are at an increased risk for nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy and lactation. A pregnant woman shares her food supply with her baby and has increased blood volume, which increases many vitamin and mineral needs as well as macronutrient requirements. Supplementation can also help prevent neural tube defects in the baby and anemia in the mother.

Exercise should be a part of a healthy pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy has proved to decrease the rate of subcutaneous weight gain after the fifteenth week, making post-pregnancy weight loss easier. Incidence of pregnancy complications are either the same or lower in those who engage in an exercise routine during pregnancy. Exercise also helps ease the burden of labor, reduce risk of gestational diabetes, and reduce stress. The EB Fitness Trainers are here to help you develop a customized exercise routine appropriate for pregnancy fitness levels, maternal heart rate, weight management and body alignment.

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References

Barker DJP: Fetal origins of coronary heart disease, BMJ 311:171, 1995.

Mahan LK, Escott-Stump S. Kraus's Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy. 11th Ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2004: 182-213.

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