Eating a well-balanced diet in which there is a wide variety of foods provide most of the nutrition required. Adequate intake of vitamin D and C is necessary for proper absorption of important minerals – iron and calcium.
Iron is essential for the formation of the red blood cells, which transport oxygen around the body and is of paramount importance to:
(a) meet the demands of the baby;
(b) sustain increased maternal red cell formation;
(c) compensate for blood loss during and after delivery.
The pregnant woman is especially prone to anaemia, due to the demands of the infant and also possibly due to eating the wrong foods, digestive upsets, perversions of appetite and/or cravings.
In addition, many pregnant women have a reduced hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which prevents the use of iron in their food. For all these reasons, doctors prescribe iron supplements during pregnancy and the postnatal stage.
However, taking iron can contribute to the problem of constipation. Eating extra roughage and drinking extra fluids and taking short walks helps to counteract this.
Calcium is necessary to provide for the development of baby’s bones, teeth and muscles and plenty of calcium rich foods are needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding.