It is very true that pregnancy often comes with an unexplainable food urge, cravings and weird appetites and at the same time, it could very well tilt to the other extreme of just no appetite for some other women.
In the end, whether pregnancy gets to make you eat a lot more or less, some food related health challenges may arise because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Some of these challenges can affect your nutritional status and consequently, the growth and development of your unborn child. Fortunately, most of these challenges can also be prevented and/or even relieved through dietary measures.
4 Common Food-related Nutrition disorders in Pregnancy
1. NAUSEA AND VOMITING
The classic “pregnancy give-away sign”, symptoms of nausea usually begin in the early weeks of pregnancy and should typically disappear by the end of the first trimester (the first 3 months). It is triggered by the hormonal changes and in accordance with its popular name of “morning sickness”, it is more prominent towards the start of the day. However, it becomes a source of serious concern when it becomes excessive. When nausea and vomiting is intractable in a pregnant woman, the condition is known as Hyper-emesis Gravidarum and it is serious medical entity because it leads to dehydration which causes other fluid and electrolyte imbalance. If severe, these complications may warrant a compulsory hospital admission for fluid replacement.
Healthy-Eating Tip: First start by identifying particular foods or odour that triggers your nausea and this definitely depends on the individual. Small but frequent intake of foods is advised and simply sticks to foods you can tolerate. More than ever before, be compliant with your routine Ante-natal drugs because Vitamin B-complex is particular helpful here.
2. HEART BURN
This is quite common towards the later trimester as the pregnancy progresses. Heart burn usually occurs because the extra pressure from the growing womb directly impinges on the stomach. This occasionally causes some of the stomach content to be pushed back into the oesophagus. It is the presence of acid-coated food substances from the stomach that gives the burning heart-burn sensation.
Healthy-Eating Tip: Small but frequent feeding also works like charm here, but more specifically, consciously stay upright or sit down for a while after eating before lying down, avoid going to bed with a full stomach, and be wary of any foods that already seem to cause heart burn for instance, Beans is naturally a no-go area for several people.
Pica is an eating disorder characterized by a compulsion to eat substances that are not food. Most of them are usually of no nutritive value and the most common non foods substances African pregnant women commonly craved for are clay, dirt, ice or freezer frost and some women eat starch. This is quite common among African women. In severe cases, pica is regarded as a mental condition where it occurs over months and causes direct complications like malnutrition, parasitic infestation of the gut or intestinal obstruction by the foreign objects. Proper diagnosis at this point may even require the use of x-rays which ought to be limited in a pregnant woman.
Healthy-Eating Tip: The truth is that there’re no specific foods to inhibit pica but simple practices like paying careful attention to eating habits and using supervisory help & support from health-conscious family members will be very helpful. Having lots of nuts and healthy snacks to frequently nimble on should keep you distracted too. Also, just the awareness of the innate possible complications of pica should serve as a reinforcement tool.
Anaemia in pregnancy is a particularly common and yet easy to prevent medical disorder in pregnancy. Unfortunately, anaemia in pregnancy is said to be particularly common in Nigeria and across Africa and in fact, according to the WHO, the commonest cause of Anaemia in Pregnancy is caused by Iron-deficiency (Iron-Deficiency Anaemia).
Healthy-Eating Tip: Eating an adequate amount of iron-rich foods like meat, chicken, fish are highly encouraged especially because, animal sources of iron are by far more easily absorbed by the body. In addition, the general emphasis on compliance with routine ante-natal medications is also largely linked to this. Overall, ensure that you regularly attend your ante-natal clinics in a good hospital because it is a vital routine for good pregnancy outcome.
Constipation is also relatively common especially during the later trimester as the womb grows in size and presses on the rectum. Now is not a good time to fall for the urge to sip a laxative (purgative) purchased from an over the counter chemist shop! If the constipation becomes persistent or makes you too uncomfortable, visit your doctor for the best line of medical advice.
Healthy-Eating Tip: The best way to prevent constipation in the first place is to consume lots of fruits, vegetables, other fibre-rich foods and regular intake of water.
This article is a part of our brand new series on Healthy Eating for Pregnant African Women, here are the other related topics to check out in this series:
- #Healthy-Eating: Pregnancy Nutrient Requirement 101
- Healthy Eating for Pregnant African Women…Nutrition Status, Weight gain+
- Natural body changes during Pregnancy and how they affect our Diet
- Plus, a FREE Sample Menu Plan Template!