Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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Pregnancy Nutrition
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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Pregnancy is a time when women need to be especially aware of the nutrients they are putting in their bodies. The fetus is 100% dependent on the mother for good nutrition; a healthy diet during gestation is essential for the development of a healthy baby. Every nutrient plays an important role in the developing fetus’s growth, but here are a few nutrients expecting mothers need to have in adequate quantities.

1. Protein: As you may know, protein is the main building block of our body. Extra protein is needed for the fetus to develop all the features of their bodies. A pregnant women’s protein requirement is 50% greater than the average women’s requirement.
2. Essential Fatty Acids: Brain and eye development requires omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In addition, pregnant women should decrease the amount of trans fats they consume.
3. Zinc: Deficits in zinc can lead to serious birth defects, including fetal growth retardation or spontaneous abortions. Low zinc levels are also linked to prolonged labor, preclampsia, and increased risk of infection.
4. Folate/ Vitamin B-12: The synthesis of DNA requires these 2 nutrients. In a growing fetus, DNA synthesis is occurring at an astoundingly fast pace. Folate is also important for the development of red blood cells. Babies born from a folate deficient mother may develop folate- related anemia. A serious condition can arise if mothers are deficient in folate at the beginning of their pregnancy, during the time when the spinal column is developing. This will cause the brain to not fully develop and the developed baby will not live long past birth or the child could be born with spina bifida (causing paralyzation or other physical handicaps).
5. Iron: Iron is important in the formation of red blood cells. Pregnant women have a higher amount of red blood cells to support the developing fetus.

Because of the nutritional needs of pregnancy, it is important that expecting women choose their foods wisely. If you are expecting, consult a doctor or nutritionist for a detailed plan for your own needs.

It is also important that expectant mothers get enough calories to nourish themselves and their child. Women within the normal BMI range for their height prior to pregnancy should gain 25-30 pounds over the 9 -month gestation. If the average baby weighs 8 pounds, where is the extra weight?
~Maternal fat stores= 4-8 lbs
~Uterus and breasts= 6 lbs
~Blood= 4 lbs
~Fetus, placenta, amniotic fluid= 11 lbs

Research Assistance by Kaylee O’Connell

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