ENG 101 ONLN 7
December 3, 2014
Health and Pregnancy In recent years, the cost of fruits and vegetables has continued to rise, making healthy foods less affordable. During pregnancy, it is important to keep good nutrition. With the rising costs, low-income households have a more difficult time than wealthy households in prioritizing and buying healthy foods. To improve the basic quality of life of all people, it is necessary for the government to put programs in place that will make healthy foods more available to the impoverished. Although it is important for pregnant woman to maintain a balanced diet, it is equally important for all woman of a childbearing age to eat a healthy diet. A maternal diet must provide energy and nutrients that meets the nutritional requirements of mother, fetal growth and the storing of nutrients (Williamson). In his article, ‘Nutrition in Pregnancy”, C. S. Williamson stresses the importance of women’s health:
If all women of childbearing age were to eat a varied and adequate diet, this would help to correct any nutritional imbalances and would help to ensure that the fetus has the best nutritional environment in which to develop. Attention to this diet at this stage also sets appropriate dietary habits to be followed throughout pregnancy (39).
Improving the nutritional diet of women prior to pregnancies has a positive influence on birthing outcomes later on. Experts agree that the first one thousand days from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday is the most influential and important time period in human development (Bleggi). Therefore, access to healthy foods is crucial in the advancement of nutrition in pregnant or breastfeeding woman and their children. During pregnancy, a woman’s appetite is altered and her health needs change; the diet of the mother directly influences the health of her and her baby (Truswell). Author Stewart Truswell, in his book ABC of Nutrition, explains a common misbelief of pregnancy, “So it is not true that a pregnant woman has to eat calories for two, but a few nutrients should be substantially increased” (21). Although it is not necessary for a woman to intake higher amounts of calories, the basis of her diet continues to lay the groundwork of her fetus’ health. Williamson supports this statement in his article, “The maternal diet during pregnancy must provide sufficient energy to ensure that delivery of a full-term, healthy infant of adequate size and appropriate body composition” (Williamson 42). During pregnancy, a woman’s metabolism changes, allowing for a greater absorption of nutrients from food. Nutrient intake during pregnancy affects the fetus at different levels of development: “The embryo is most vulnerable to the effects of poor maternal diet during the first few weeks of development, often before pregnancy has been confirmed” (Williamson 39). Also, at twenty weeks a fetus now uses the nutrients from its mother’s diet for placenta and fetus growth. During pregnancy, the fetus absorbs nutrients through the placenta; therefore a healthy maternal diet is key in birthing a healthy baby. A maternal diet should contain high amounts of carbohydrates (from bread, rice, pasta and potatoes), fruits and vegetables, along with moderate amounts of dairy foods, lean meats, fish, eggs and beans/lentils. Although they carry no nutritional value, foods with high sugar and fat are allowed in very limited amounts (Williamson 41). Dietary recommendations for pregnant woman and all adults border along the same boundaries. It is important for all people to maintain a healthy diet, especially woman, which directly impacts their pregnancies and future children. Maintaining a healthy diet is imperative to sustaining a good quality of life. Reducing maternal and child malnutrition is a key priority of the U.S. global food security and health initiatives (Bleggi 1). Social and environmental barriers hinder a healthy diet in people living