Does nutrition status affect fertility? Good overall nutrition, rather than
eating any specific food, greatly improves your chances of conceiving a child.

For women, nutrient deficiencies and low-calorie diets at one extreme, and
obesity at the other, can disrupt ovulation. Poor nutrition can also have an
impact on male fertility. In order to get pregnant, doctors recommend that both
women and men eat healthy, exercise and keep a positive mental attitude to
increase chances of fertilization. Eating healthy, exercise and keeping a
positive mental attitude are equally important during pregnancy and after
pregnancy. According to www.familyinternet.com, “carrying a baby for nine
months and then providing it with breast milk afterward is a major nutritional
stress on a woman’s body. Food intake increases only 15-20%, but requirements
for specific nutrients such as folic acid, zinc, and certain B vitamins may
increase by 30-100%.” In addition, less than optimal nutrition can result in
low-birth weight babies with increased risk of heart disease and
non-insulin-dependent diabetes as adults. (www.childbirth-connections.com). Both
over-eating and under-eating can adversely affect the qualities and quantities
of breast milk, which is explained further under Dietary Requirements During

Pregnancy. During pregnancy, nutrients are passed from mother to fetus through
the placenta, and after birth, through breast-milk. The main vitamins and
nutrients needed by mother and fetus is explained in the chart below:

Nutrient/Vitamin Amount Needed Benefit Source Protein Need for pregnant women is
increased by 10 to 15 grams daily (1 glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein).

Forms structural basis for all new cells and tissues for both the mother and
fetus www.tdh.tx.us (Texas Department of Health) Carbohydrates 50-100 g/daily

Prevents ketosis, which, during pregnancy, can cause brain damage to the fetus.
www.tdh.tx.us Pregnancy Life Stage Nutrient/Vitamin Amount Needed Benefit Source

Folate 400-800 micrograms daily Prevents anemia during pregnancy, may prevent
miscarriage, preserves the integrity of genetic material, and lowers risk of
neural tube defects like spina-bifuda www.familyinternet.com Calcium 1000-1500
mg/daily Milk production and growing bones www.familyinternet.com Iron 30 mg
beginning 12th week of pregnancy Binds oxygen to hemoglobin and prevent
iron-deficiency anemia “Nutrition During Pregnancy”, National Academy of

Sciences Vitamin D Adequate sun exposure, or 10 mg/daily for complete
vegetarians and 5 mg/daily for woman who don’t eat vitamin D-fortified foods
(dairy products) Promotes fetal growth, bone formation, tooth enamel formation
and the proper utilization of calcium www.familyinternet.com Vitamin B-6 2-5
mg/day during 1st & 2nd trimester, not to exceed 20 mg/day in the last
trimester; higher doses may shut off milk production Manufacture of hormones,
hemoglobin, neurotransmitters, many enzymes, and amino acids.
www.familyinternet.com Vitamin E 200 IU Decreases risk of premature babies and
low-birth weight infants and may lower the risk of miscarriage.
www.familyinternet.com Vitamin A Follow the RDA of 2700 IU daily Provides baby
with vitamin A reserves and sustains adequate breast-mil concentrations.
www.familyinternet.com Zinc 10-30 mg daily is sufficient and considered safe;
excessive intake of zinc can lower HDL-cholesterol. Reduces risk of miscarriage,
labor complications, neural tube defects and low-birth babies
www.familyinternet.com Food plays a major role in promoting a healthy life.

However, during the pregnancy cycle, nutrition is of even greater importance
because of the effects on both the mother and baby. Many people have said that a
pregnant mother is eating for two, which in fact is correct. The mother needs a
certain amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, water and fiber in the
diet each day. Pregnancy Life Stage One suggested food plan, developed by

FamilyWeb.com, suggests that during the first 2 to 3 months of pregnancy, a
woman should try eating small amounts frequently throughout the day to keep the
energy higher. If the mother only eats larger amounts of food less frequently,
she may experience discomfort due to her energy levels reaching highs and lows.

The food plan also recommends that the mother eat raw vegetables, fruits,
juices, milk, breads and cereals in between meals as a way to keep the metabolic
rate and energy steady. Each food group has recommended or suggested serving
amounts for a pregnant woman. An outline of the serving amounts for each food
group is as follows: The Five Food Groups Suggested Number of Servings Fruits
and vegetables 4 or more Milk and dairy products 4 Meat, fish, poultry, eggs,
dried beans, peas and nuts 3 or more Whole grains, enriched breads and cereals 9
or more Fats and sweets Vary according to calories needed It is very important
that, during pregnancy, that the mother eats the suggested amounts from each of
the food groups in order to maintain a balanced diet and healthy nutritional
intake. The foods in each group all play a vital role in the diet because of the
following reasons: ? Fruits and Vegetables – The foods in this group
contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, which is a natural laxative and aids in
the regularity of the mother. ? Milk and Dairy Products – This group
contains calcium and other nutrients produce strong bones and teeth for the
mother and child. ? Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dried beans, peas, seeds,
and nuts – This group of foods is needed to supply protein needed to help
build new tissues and maintain the health of body cells. Pregnancy Life Stage
? Whole grain or enriched breads and cereals – Breads and cereal foods
provide vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron. Whole grains and
cereals provide essential elements such as zinc and also fiber. These foods aid
in the production of energy. ? Fats and Sweets – This of foods such as
margarine, butter, jellies and sugars are high in sugar, fat and salt. These
should be used to meet additional caloric needs after the basic nutritional
needs have been met. Eating too much of these can crowd the other necessary
nutrients. Furthermore, it is best to get vitamins and minerals from the foods
eaten rather than from supplements because this is a good sign that the mother
has an adequate diet. However, the doctor may prescribe supplements for iron and
folacin because of increased needs during pregnancy. Also, vitamin C aids in the
absorption of iron. By taking iron supplements with orange juice or such, the
mother may double and even triple the amounts of iron absorbed. Also, it is
essential that the mother drink 6 to 8 glassed of water each day during
pregnancy in order to stay properly hydrated. There have been stories of
pregnant women with cravings such as pickles and ice cream. Although this may be
true, it is fine to eat foods that the pregnant mother craves occasionally.

However, she needs to remember the dietary and nutritional needs that other
foods previously mentioned are essential to being a healthy mother and having a
healthy baby. (www.familyweb.com). While eating the recommended diet a mother
should almost automatically gain the proper amount of weight. The recommended
amount of weight gain for the first trimester is 3-5 pounds. The recommendation
for the second and third trimester is one pound per week, which will lead

Pregnancy Life Stage to the recommended 25-35 pounds of total weight gain (ivillage.com).

It is suggested that women who are underweight should gain 28-40 pounds, women
who are overweight should only gain 15-25 pounds, and women pregnant with twins
should gain 35-45 pounds (women.com). The blood volume, breast and uterine
tissue, amniotic fluid, baby, placenta, and fluid retention account for 10-15
pounds of normal pregnancy weight gain (www.ivillage.com). Weight loss or
obesity during pregnancy is something that needs to be watched carefully. Some
researchers believe loss of weight during pregnancy causes ketones to be
liberated into the women’s blood. They feel that the ketones may be toxic to
the babies developing brains. There is an easy way to measure ketone levels, by
simply using a dipstick to test the urine. You can find dipsticks, such as
ketostix at any drugstore. Obesity can cause various complications during
pregnancy. Obesity, which is 20% or more overweight is associated with increased
chance of pregnancy problems, such as: ? Pregnancy-induced hypertension
? Urinary tract infections ? Caesarian deliveries (women.com)

Besides weight control, exercise is also very important during pregnancy. Active
mothers who exercise will feel better. Outdoor exercise and recreation give you
a chance to get sunshine and fresh air. Walking is particularly good because it
strengthens some of the muscles you will use in labor. Some exercises such as,
tailor sitting, the tailor press, the tailor stretch, spinal C-Curve, and the
deeply folded position are useful for strengthening muscles used in labor and
delivery. Another great exercise called the kegel exercise, better known as the
invisible exercise, is Pregnancy Life Stage designed to also strengthen pelvic
muscles. These exercises are all quite simple to do and should be done for a few
minutes each day during pregnancy. Maintaining fitness levels while pregnant
will provide strength and stamina during labor, and help you get back into shape
more easily once the baby is born. Women who exercise before getting pregnant
can keep doing so during pregnancy. However, women must remember to always
consult with their obstetrician or other health care provider before beginning
any new or rigorous exercise/activity while pregnant. Last but definitely not
least, there are the social environmental effects of pregnancy. Home life, work
life, school, family and relationships all can have positive or negative effects
on a mother’s social environment. Due to the social effects of teen pregnancy,
it is considered a negative social environment. Teens are generally not ready to
handle the nutritional and environmental needs during pregnancy. It is essential
that a mother keeps and positive mental state and stress to a minimum, because
if not, there are higher risks of miscarriages due to chemical reactions in the
body. Stress can also lead to substance abuse and pregnant women should also
stay away from drinking alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Because of damages proven
by research, these habits have become socially unacceptable. Such ailments, like
alcohol use are associated with premature birth, low birth weight, and increased
labor complications. According to the Texas Department of Health, smoking women
are two times more likely to suffer a miscarriage than non-smokers and drug use
can be fatal to both the mother and child. Pregnancy Life Stage Summary Not only
is it important to eat right, exercise and keep a positive mental state during
pregnancy. It is just as essential to be aware of the needs of a mother before
getting pregnant. Pregnancy is a stage in life, where lifestyle plays a vital
role in promoting a healthy life for both a mother and a child. This is why
women who become pregnant should contact their doctor immediately to start
optimizing their needs as well as the needs of the child.

Bibliography

Natal Care, The Pregnant Lifestyle. http://www.familyweb.com/pregnancy/natal,2000

Shanahan, Shelly, Nutririon and Weight. www.women.com, 2000. Plumbo, Peg, Weight

Gain Reccommendations. www.ivillage.com, 2000. http://www.parentsplace.com
http://www.babycenter.com http://www.familyinternet.com http://www.childbirth-connections.com
http://www.familyweb.com