Special Dietary Requirements: Pregnancy
Pregnant women must eat well and are encouraged to eat a variety of foods.
Weight gain is a normal and healthy part of pregnancy, especially during the fourth week
through the end of pregnancy. Most women gain a normal amount of weight by eating
healthfully, staying active, and allowing their appetite to guide food intake.
Physicians usually recommend general guidelines for healthy eating. The pregnant
woman's diet should include the basic nutrients necessary to meet the demands of the
developing fetus. Junk food should be avoided, because it provides little more than empty
calories. For women who normally do not follow a healthy diet, pregnancy is a good time
Healthy eating helps ensure that the baby will have a healthy birth weight and will
not be born with infections or other problems, reduces the risk for premature birth, builds
up fats and fluids for use during breastfeeding, and reduces the risk for complications
It is also important that women continue to eat well after the birth,
especially if the baby is breastfeeding.
Pregnancy is no time to diet. Every woman is different, depending on body type
and weight before conception, but most women who deliver healthy babies gain about 25
to 35 pounds or more during pregnancy. Women who are under weight prior to pregnancy
should gain a little more, and over weight women, a little less.
Women who do not gain enough weight have an increased risk for delivering
babies with low birth weight (5.52 pounds). Low birth rate is a major cause of infant
mortality as well as many childhood developmental, physic, and psychological problems.
Gaining too much weight can also be a problem. It can make pregnancy an
unpleasant experience, causing backache, leg pain, varicose veins, and fatigue. It...