Pregnancy and the world of sport are compatible as long as all care, both nutritional and physical exercise, is taken. (Re-read our article “Are pregnancy and exercise compatible?”)
Many women athletes today continue to train and compete after becoming pregnant and this practice is endorsed by the International Olympic Committee.
During pregnancy, the maternal organism undergoes physiological changes such as: increased blood volume, gastric reflux, constipation, decreased serum proteins, among others. This period is characterized by a higher nutritional need for the maintenance of maternal health, as well as the growth and development of the fetus.
The only source of nutrients for the fetus is the mother's food intake and reserves, so the pregnant woman has increased energy needs and some nutrients, depending on the trimester, which does not mean "eating twice."
Nutritional balance should exist with special attention to the following nutrients:
- Energy: the needs are increasing depending on the quarter. Only in the 2nd and 3rd trimester is it necessary to increase by 300-450 kcal / day, yet be careful with the weight gain that overly harms the baby's health;
- Protein: the needs of this macronutrient increase due to the formation of the placenta, growth of the baby and uterine tissues. This increase in protein may come from foods of plant origin (vegetables), as meat / fish consumption is usually already in larger quantities than recommended;
- Carbohydrates: this nutrient is important as it is a major source of energy. Its consumption should be well distributed throughout the day, the choice should be mainly on foods rich in fiber and slow absorption (oats, brown rice) to avoid risks of gestational diabetes;
- Fat: a diet rich in essential fatty acids (omega 3) is of utmost importance for the fetal brain and nervous system development. Fat intake should be balanced against the mother's other macronutrients and body composition;
- Folic Acid: consumption of this micronutrient should be increased prior to and during pregnancy, which is important for reducing the risk of developing neural tube defects in the fetus. Foods such as leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are important in maintaining reserves. Still, if not enough, supplementation should be considered;
- Iron: represents one of the most important nutrients in pregnancy as it is essential in the growth and energy metabolism of the baby. Needs are increased during pregnancy and so that the mother is not deficient in these nutrients or the baby suffers from low birth weight or other complications, iron supplementation and consumption of rich iron foods are advised prenatally.
There are still other vitamins and minerals that are important throughout pregnancy, yet should be evaluated on a case by case basis. Hence the importance of feeding in pregnancy is varied, complete and balanced and must meet the nutrition needs of mother and fetus.
The pregnant woman should always be evaluated by a nutritionist and physical exercise should be supervised by a personal trainer (PT), thus avoiding many risks associated with physical exercise in this new stage of her life.
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By Adriana Martins, Nutritionist