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Concourse Medical & Dental Centre
6 Concourse Crescent, Lonehill, Sandton, Johannesburg

Nutrition during pregnancy

Optimal preconceptual nutrition supports successful conception when it includes adequate amounts of all macronutrients, vitamins and minerals. The developing fetus depends fully on the nutrition of the mother, which is why the mother's diet is so important. 

During breastfeeding, it is also vital that the infant receives the necessary nutrients to ensure maximal growth and development. 

It is clear that one's diet is important throughout all stages: preconception and fertility, conception, pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and beyond. 

Dietitians assist pregnant mothers to ensure that they nourish themselves and their infant in the best possible way. Dietitians also help with correct maternal weight gain, supplementation, pregnancy-related complications (such as constipation, gestational diabetes, heartburn and pregnancy-induced hypertension) and lactation.

Nutrition in infancy & childhood

Unicef states that the first 1000 days of life - the time spanning roughly between conception and one's second birthday - is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established. 

It is therefore important to ensure adequate intake of nutrients in infants and children. The addition of semi-solid and solid food is started when signs of developmental readiness and nutrient needs occur. Dietitians can assist in noting these signs and advise on the correct foods to start with and how to progress. Factors such as the type of food, the food's texture, serving size and eating environment should be discussed. 

If an allergy or food intolerance is suspected, dietitians work with other health care practitioners in finding an appropriate solution. Other cases such as "fussy eaters" should also be addressed to ensure that adequate nutritional intake is not hindered and to come up with creative ways to encourage a healthy and well-rounded diet.

Further into childhood, other nutritional concerns may development, including overweight and obesity, underweight and failure to thrive, iron deficiency, ADHD and autism. All of these subjects need dietary intervention.