All of us need a balanced amount of nutrients for the proper functioning of the body system. However, the nutrition requirement varies with respect to age and gender. And pregnancy is such a critical phase in a woman's life, when the expecting mother needs optimal nutrients of superior qualities to support the developing fetus. Naturally, the urge to eat more is experienced by nearly all pregnant women. However, one should be aware of what would happen if there is a lack of nutrients in the gestation period and the effects of malnutrition during this phase. It is quite obvious that it would negatively affect the health of both the mother and the baby.
Malnutrition and Pregnancy
Malnutrition is defined as the lack of sufficient nutrients, which are essential for the body's normal functioning. Over time, it affects the bodily organs and results in mild to severe medical problems. One of the malnutrition facts is that the number of hungry people is more in the developing countries. Consequently, the occurrence rate of malnutrition during pregnancy is higher in the countries of Asia and Africa. As per medical data, pregnant women, lactating women, and children below 3 years are more susceptible to malnutrition effects than others.
From the moment that a woman conceives, she holds the responsibility of following a healthy diet in large quantities to support the growth of an entire life inside her womb. An expecting mother should understand that her daily nutrition is not only important for her health, but it is crucial for maintaining good health of her baby for the entire life. Taking this into consideration, malnutrition during this phase is a leading cause for poor pregnancy consequences.
If a pregnant woman is malnourished, it is understandable that the baby in the mother's womb is not receiving enough nutrients. In other words, the nutrients and trace minerals essential for developing a whole life are not provided in sufficient amounts. As a consequence, the baby will exhibit poor growth rate and low weight. The general effects of malnutrition on the body are weak immune system, greater risk to illnesses, low stamina level, and lesser height.
Some effects of malnutrition when pregnant are carried by the child throughout his/her entire life. Say for example, a malnourished baby is prone to infections not only in the early stages of growth, but also in the adulthood phases of life. Also, it is claimed that cognitive impairment and low IQ are directly linked to malnutrition symptoms, especially during pregnancy and infancy period.
Pregnant women who have been through malnutrition, deliver babies with low-birth weight. Such children are prone to retarded growth, less coordination, poor vision, learning difficulty, and many other diseases. Anemia is one of the malnutrition diseases that affects several pregnant women worldwide. It increases the risk for mortality of mother and baby at childbirth. Other serious effects are premature delivery, obstructed labor, postpartum hemorrhage, and birth defects.
The effects of malnutrition on child development are attributed to lack of nutrients during pregnancy and also, during lactating period. In both the stages, consuming a well-planned pregnancy diet and diet for breastfeeding mother is crucial for the baby's health. Indeed, the health and well-being of an individual would largely depend on the nutrition provided in the three stages, viz., gestation, lactation, and early childhood.
In order to minimize these effects, a woman planning for conception should develop good eating habits and dietary changes. Staying fit before pregnancy is also imperative, because the developing fetus depends on the mother's stored nutrients for fast growth during the initial months. Consulting a nutrition expert is a practical approach to understand the nutritional requirements for the optimal health of both the mother and the baby.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.