Nutrition plays a big role in our lives as what we eat can affect our health outcomes as we age. In relation, during pregnancy, nutrition is strongly related to birth outcomes (Abu-Saad 2010). In this blog, the importance of nutrition and birth outcomes are introduced with evidence-based information that encourages those in family planning to look further. This includes local resources like Pregnant and Hungry and other general resources from the USDA National Agricultural Library.
Perinatal Nutrition and Birth Outcomes:
First, what is perinatal nutrition? Perinatal Nutrition is what one eats, and how one eats during pregnancy. According to Hopkins Medicine, for a healthy pregnancy, it is recommended to eat an extra 300 calories than usual. The perinatal diet should consist of healthy and balanced intakes like proteins, fruits, and vegetables (Hopkins Medicine). This may seem like an easy task to accomplish when eating food that benefits the health of you and your baby; however, others may not be so fortunate.
Many suffer the misfortune of not having access to healthy foods as opposed to others, for example, Vinikoor-Imler (2011) identifies that neighborhood conditions are associated with negative pregnancy and birth outcomes. A neighborhood deprivation result; is having less access to grocery stores with healthy foods in high poverty areas, which explains excess weight gain during pregnancy (Vinikoor-Imler 2011). To clarify, in this research, the mention of negative neighborhood conditions correlates with low-socioeconomic populations.
Possible outcomes of poor perinatal nutrition are low birth weight, preterm birth, and intrauterine growth restriction (Abu-Saad 2010). According to the research of Abu-Saad and authors, these adverse health outcomes lead to the consequence of neonatal death and far more complications.
Did You Know?
Pica Disorder in Pregnancy: An eating disorder that consists of eating non-food items. A sign of out-of-balance health like anemia, and can occur in the first trimester of pregnancy (HealthLine).
Food and eating disorders can be triggered or exaggerated during pregnancy. Some disorders are brought on by nutritional deficiencies while others involve mental health changes such as binge eating, anorexia, and bulimia.
During pregnancy, some individuals experience strong cravings and avoidance of certain foods or flavors for a myriad of causes but they are not traditionally classified as a disorder. A balanced diet is preferred and when people find themselves limiting their options to less nutritious foods, consulting with a nutritionist and/or birth and wellness provider is helpful.
Cooking with Kendra (Owner of Pregnant & Hungry)
Are you interested in learning new recipes to cook for yourself or your pregnant partner? Kendra, the owner of Pregnant and Hungry, has a collection of recipes that will support you, a friend, or a loved one from preconception through postpartum.
Start Your Own Research in Perinatal Nutrition!
Below are local resources and general resources provided by the USDA
Fitness and Nutrition Local Resources on CCCN member directory
CDC Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Nutrition: learn how the “one thousand days refers to the period from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday, when optimal nutrition is critical for brain development, healthy growth, and setting children on a trajectory for lifelong health.”
MyPlate: “Learn what foods and amounts are right at different stages of pregnancy with plans based on age, height, weight, and physical activity.”
Healthy Eating During Pregnancy: “The resource will help you learn how to eat healthy during pregnancy, including how to choose a variety of healthy foods, maintain healthy weight gain during pregnancy and stay food safe.”
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy: Checklist
Bernice Nuñez, CCCN Intern 2021
UC Merced Public Health B.A. | Class of 2022
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Abu-Saad K, Fraser D. Maternal nutrition and birth outcomes. Epidemiol Rev. 2010;32:5-25.
doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxq001. Epub 2010 Mar 17. PMID: 20237078.
Iftikhar, N. (2020, November 30). Pica in Pregnancy: Causes, Risks, and More. Healthline.
Nutrition During Pregnancy. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.).
Vinikoor-Imler, L., Messer, L., Evenson, K., & Laraia, B. (2011). Neighborhood conditions
are associated with maternal health behaviors and pregnancy outcomes. Social Science & Medicine, 73(9),
Disclaimer: The opinions or beliefs expressed by various authors on this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs, and viewpoints of Central Coast Childbirth Network, INC. Central Coast Childbirth Network, INC does not offer medical advice. The content on this blog is for informational purposes only. The author's opinions are based upon information they consider reliable; thus, Central Coast Childbirth Network warrants its completeness or accuracy and should not be relied upon as such.