She had low appetite throughout her pregnancy and she delivered a under weight baby. Lilian Namukasa, a mother of two, recalls that her pregnancy was characterised by nausea, morning sickness and very poor appetite.
“I was staying alone then. My husband had gone abroad and I always got lazy to prepare myself a meal. I rarely felt hungry and whenever I tried to eat, I would get nausea. I resorted to doing away with food for most of the times,” she recalls.
Namukasa concentrated on drinking juice, porridge and at seven months, the amniotic fluid was drying up. When she went to hospital, the doctor told her that she needed to eat or she would have a premature baby.
Two months later, I got into labour and my baby weighed only 750g. The doctor attributed the low birth weight to my inability to eat in the early stages of my pregnancy. On my second pregnancy, I forced myself to eat and my baby had normal weight.”
“A malnourished mother will give birth to a malnourished and low birth weight baby and if no intervention is made to educate the mother on proper feeding, the effects can be adverse,” says Amanda Tumwebaze, a freelance nutritionist.
Improper care and feeding for both expectant and lactating mothers also affects their nutrition status as well as that of the baby.
Tumwebaze says, “Gaining enough pregnancy weight is a sign that a mother is eating enough to support the needs of both the mother and a baby. Loss of appetite often comes when you get nausea during pregnancy.
It affects about 75 per cent of pregnant women. Increasing hormones also play a role in increasing nausea and sensitivity to smell while decreasing appetite of expectant mothers.”
Proper feeding should be characterised by the type of food, amount and frequency, psychological and social support, proper hygiene and sanitation. Expectatnt mothers are advised to prioritise proper feeding. Tumwebaze says: “Eating a healthy breakfast increases your appetite. Do not skip it because it helps you prepare for the day.
“Instead of forcing yourself to eat larger portions of food, eat lighter meals but more frequently whenever you feel hungry. In moments when you have appetite, eat as much protein and carbohydrates as you can. This stabilises blood sugar levels and keeps you fuller for a long time.”
Whole grains and legumes are also important because they contain vital nutrients, including folate, which prevents an expectant mother from becoming irritable, as well as prevents neurological defects in a foetus.
Take folic acid at least a month before conception to help fill the temporary nutritional gaps. Ensure that you consume enough fluids. Warm water with lemon or ginger tea can be good substitutes for plain water if you are nauseous. Avoid strong-smelling foods that are spicy or fatty.
For the moments during the day when your appetite makes a brief appearance, consume as much protein and complex carbohydates as you can to keep your blood sugar stable and keep you fuller for a bit longer.
What to eat
Eat fruits, meat, dairy products, eggs, millet, rice, avocados, vegetables and other natural foods. Also avoid eating excessively oily foods such as chips and junk foods. Drink a lot of water and fluids such as fruit juice to keep your body hydrated.
Doctor advise that fish is a good source of nutrients such as proteins and vitamin D, which are important for your body and brain.
“I ate the fish because the doctor advised me that I and my unborn baby needed the nutrients for our health. I did not have any problems like they had threatened,” Lillian Namukasa says.