I think we all know what pregnancy is, seeing we’ve all had to go through it (pun intended?) but here is the technical definition: Pregnancy is the fertilisation and development of one or more offspring, known as an embryo or foetus, in a woman's uterus.
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I think we all know what pregnancy is, seeing we’ve all had to go through it (pun intended?) but here is the technical definition: Pregnancy is the fertilisation and development of one or more offspring, known as an embryo or foetus, in a woman's uterus. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations, as in the case of twins or triplets. Childbirth usually occurs about 38 weeks after conception; in women who have a menstrual cycle length of four weeks, this is approximately 40 weeks from the start of the last normal menstrual period. Conception can be achieved through sexual intercourse or assisted reproductive technology.
An embryo is the developing offspring during the first 8 weeks following conception, and subsequently the term foetus is used until birth. In many societies' medical or legal definitions, human pregnancy is divided into three trimester periods, as a means to simplify reference to the different stages of prenatal development. The first trimester carries the highest risk of miscarriage (natural death of embryo or foetus). During the second trimester, the development of the foetus can be more easily monitored and diagnosed. The beginning of the third trimester often approximates the point of viability, or the ability of the foetus to survive, with or without medical help, outside of the uterus.
A balanced, nutritious diet is an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy. Eating a healthy diet, balancing carbohydrates, fat, and proteins, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, usually ensures good nutrition. Those whose diets are affected by health issues, religious requirements, or ethical beliefs may choose to consult a health professional for specific advice.
Adequate folate or Vitamin B9 intake has been shown to decrease the risk of foetal neural tube defects such as spina bifida, a serious birth defect. The neural tube develops during the first 28 days of pregnancy, explaining the necessity to guarantee adequate periconceptional folate intake. Folate (from folia, leaf) is abundant in spinach (fresh, frozen, or canned), and is found in green leafy vegetables e.g. salads, beets, broccoli, asparagus, citrus fruits and melons, chickpeas (i.e. in the form of hummus or falafel), and eggs.
Fish oil contains DHA omega-3 fatty acids that are usually found in in the brain and retina, it is also naturally present in breast milk. It is important for a woman to consume adequate amounts of DHA during pregnancy and while nursing to support her well-being and the health of her infant. Developing infants cannot produce DHA efficiently, and must receive this vital nutrient from the woman through the placenta during pregnancy and in breast milk after birth. Check out this article for more information on fish oil in pregnancy.
Several micronutrients are important for the health of the developing fetus, especially in areas of the world where insufficient nutrition is prevalent. Certain nutrients such as Vitamin D and calcium, required for bone development, may require supplementation. Read more about optimal nutritional requirements for preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
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