You’ve heard it before, I’m sure. Once you’re pregnant you have to “eat right.” At the very least, you have to eat better than you have been.
Why? Because it’s good for the baby, obviously.
But what does that mean, exactly? How do your prenatal food choices affect the little one growing inside you?
Chantal Wilford over at TheFeministBreeder.com has written up an excellent resource for soon-to-be-mommas to answer that very question. Here’s a quick overview:
1. Good Nutrition Supports Your Placenta
Your placenta is an amazing organ! Every minute of your pregnancy, your placenta exchanges an entire pint of blood to transfer nutrition from your blood stream directly to Baby’s blood stream. Your placenta also breathes for your baby, delivering oxygen straight to her blood stream, and provides some immunity and infection protection. Whew! That’s a lot of work!
What happens if you’re not regularly nourishing your placenta by eating nutritious foods during pregnancy?
“A placenta that is friable (easily damaged) and shows calcifications may not have been functioning at full potential, meaning your baby may not have received ideal supplies of oxygen or nourishment in utero. A very friable placenta may come apart before it is expelled, and even a small piece of retained placenta can lead to postpartum hemorrhage. This blood loss can cause fatigue, light-headedness, palpitations and confusion, among other more serious things. For out-of-hospital birthers, this may result in a transfer to the hospital for a D&C and blood transfusion. No matter the birth location, this affects mom’s recovery, postpartum bonding with baby, and the breastfeeding relationship.” (via TheFeministBreeder.com)
2. Good Nutrition Prevents Your Membranes from Rupturing Too Soon
Poor nutrition can result in your membranes rupturing before Baby’s ready to be born. Ruptured membranes mean you may need to go to the hospital for labor induction or augmentation if you don’t go into active labor within 24 hours (depending on your provider’s protocol). Once in the hospital, you’re stuck in bed, monitored, probably given drugs you may or may not want, all affecting the progression of your birth and probably throwing your ideal birth plan out the window.
More importantly, preterm babies lose the benefits that come along with remaining in the womb full term.
“Late pregnancy is when key brain development, healthy weight gain, and organ function refinement take place. Again, good nutrition can help prevent preterm labor.” (via TheFeministBreeder.com)
Read our list of foods to eat during pregnancy for brain development.
3. Good Nutrition Reduces the Risks of Developmental Delays and Low Birthweight
There’s a wide range of vital nourishment your baby needs in utero, from macronutrients like healthy fats and high quality proteins to essential vitamins and minerals like folate and calcium. Depriving Baby of optimal nutrition increases her chances of developmental delays, physical disabilities, and/or neurological disabilities. It also increases the risk of low birthweight.
“A baby with low birthweight may be at increased risk for complications. The baby’s tiny body is not as strong and he or she may have a harder time eating, gaining weight, and fighting infection.” (via Stanford Children’s Health)
The list goes on. Suffice it to say, good nutrition is one of the simplest yet most important gifts you can give yourself and your child during pregnancy. Changing your diet may be hard in the beginning, but it’s more than worth it! A healthy, vibrant, thriving child is all the thanks you’ll need.
Check out our other related posts: