The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Eating well: what's in it for baby
• Organ development The heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and nervous system develop from scratch. Your body supplies the raw materials for all this manufacturing through what you eat.
• Brain development Since protein, calories and omega-3 fatty acids are particularly crucial to optimal brain development, ensuring an adequate intake of these nutrients becomes even more vital in the last months of pregnancy when your baby's brain has its greatest growth spurt.
• Your baby's long-term health Some studies have found that a predisposition to certain diseases (such as cancers and schizophrenia) and chronic conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease) may be programmed while the baby is still developing in the womb, if it received inadequate nutrition during pregnancy.
What's in it for you:
• Comfort and energy A diet with adequate complex carbohydrates can reduce fatigue. One rich in fiber and fluids can relieve (or prevent) constipation. An eating plan low in fatty foods can decrease heartburn.
• Safety Research shows strong links between diet deficiencies and pregnancy complications. Anemia, a common pregnancy condition characterized by low levels of red blood cells, is directly connected to iron deficiency. Some cases of preeclampsia have been linked with high intake of sugar and polyunsaturated fats, as well as a low intake of vitamin C.
• Labor, delivery and postpartum recovery A sufficient store of nutrients is necessary for the prodigious amount of energy you'll expend during labor. Continue to eat well after you give birth: Your body will need healthful resources to recover from the rigors of childbirth and to cope with sleep deprivation.