Being a mother is not easy and we often don’t realize how much of their own time, energy and health they give up in looking after others. Ensuring that they follow a proper diet becomes very important as it helps in coping with their inherently hectic lifestyle.
Here are a few guidelines on how mothers, and women in general, can make sure that they’re getting the nourishment their body requires through the different stages of motherhood and life in general.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding:
A healthy diet at this stage is vital because the mother must provide for her own nutrient needs as well as for the production of breast milk. It’s important to ensure a steady intake of the following nutrients for the health of the mother as well as the baby –
- Folic acid – is required for the normal development of the baby to prevent neural tube defects or NTDs, defects of brain and spine. The recommended intake of folic acid for pregnant women is 600 mg/day and breastfeeding is 500 mg/day. In addition to the supplements one can have fresh fruits , legumes, vegetables especially green leafy vegetables ,nuts and seeds like peanuts and sesame.
- Protein – is essential for proper growth of fetal tissue. It helps in breast and uterine growth during pregnancy. It also increases the blood supply allowing more blood to be sent to the baby.
- Calcium – helps in building baby’s bones.
- Iron – works with sodium, potassium and water to increase blood flow. This ensures that enough oxygen is supplied to mother and baby.
- Zinc – is needed to maintain the health of cells.
- Iodine is required for normal mental development of the fetus but it can be difficult to get it enough from food.
- Vitamin C is needed for normal gum, tooth, and bone tissue formation.
Besides eating well, it is vital to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
Nutrition continues to play a key role in helping women deal with the physiological changes that they undergo, through the later stages of motherhood with, advancing age
- By middle adulthood, physical changes become more apparent with the decline in size and mass of muscles and an increase in body fat.
- Body composition slowly shifts in line with hormonal shifts.
- Menopause, the end of menstruation- decline of estrogen production in women.
- Menopause is associated with an increase in abdominal fat and significant increase in risk of cardiovascular disease and accelerated loss of bone mass.
- Metabolism slows down, generally total food intake needs to be reduced.
- Exercise is an important component to balancing food intake and output.
- Sedentary lifestyle creates a greater need for daily exercise.
Something as simple as a combination of exercise and a healthy intake of all the necessary macro-nutrients, especially protein – can go a long way in slowing down the aging process.
Stress, Depression and Motherhood:
Many risk factors have been identified including a history of depression prior to or during pregnancy, fear or doubts regarding the new role as mother, unhealthy diet, career changes, smoking or drinking, stressful jobs, and a history of PMS.
Here are few health tips to overcome depression and reduce stress:
- Reduce or avoid sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Increase your B complex vitamins (legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, beans, broccoli, etc.)
- It is important to exercise during and after pregnancy. This increases serotonin blood levels which may help reduce anxiety. Try walking or swimming.
- Mother’s who breastfeed their babies are at a higher risk of dehydration, so drink plenty of water.
- Manage stress by including meditation for minutes twice a day.
There are a lot of women who face hormonal imbalance due to menopause. The severity of hormonal problems may increase with age. This may be due to the physiological effects of stress. Good nutrition helps in mitigating these effects to a great extent.
It is difficult being a mother and for all the mothers who look towards maintaining a healthy life and a healthy family, it is important to make sure that their own health is not neglected – so that they can keep being awesome and be the best version of themselves
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