Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Maternal diet influences the health of both the child and mother. Pregnancy is one of the most crucial and sensitive periods in a woman’s life and also very exciting because it is the time the entire family awaits the birth of a new born baby, therefore taking extra caution to have a balanced diet is crucial.
Dr. Sabrina Kitaka – a Paediatrician, and Senior lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics and Child health at Makerere University‘s School of Medicine says, ‘During pregnancy, a mother is not only responsible for herself but also the new life that is growing inside her. Optimal nutrition is of utmost priority and drinking milk during pregnancy ensures that the mother meets many of her nutritional requirements. A pregnant woman needs an abundance of nutrients during pregnancy, which milk provides.’
Dr. Kitaka adds that today, getting milk isn’t a challenge because it is always available since there are options of having it pre-packaged for consumption.
Marketing Manager Fresh Dairy – Vincent Omoth highlights that Fresh Dairy Long life UHT milk offers convenience to consumers because it lasts up to 90 days with or without it being refrigerated, tastes as good as fresh milk and is now available in both 500ml and 200ml packs costing Shs1,600 and Shs800 respectively.
Dr. Sabrina Kitaka noted the following as critical nutrients that pregnant mothers can get from drinking a glass of milk (200ml) daily: Calcium, Protein, iodine, Potassium, Phosphorous and Vitamins B2 and B12.
Milk is an excellent source of Calcium: A pregnant woman needs at least 1000 mg of calcium every day which can be attained by daily consumption of milk. Calcium helps strengthen the baby’s rapidly-developing bones and teeth, boosts muscle, heart and nerve development as well.
Milk is rich in Protein: During pregnancy, protein is very important because it aids in the build-up of the uterus. This vital nutrient ensures a steady blood supply, especially to vital parts of the female anatomy such as the breasts and the baby’s tissues.
Rich in Vitamin D: Vitamin D is vital to ensure a normal birth weight and prevention of neonatal rickets. You can get most of your nutrients and other vitamins from various food sources. But when it comes to Vitamin D, milk is one of the very few sources rich in this vitamin. As a result, milk becomes an important component of your pregnancy diet, says Dr. Sabrina.
Helps to Combat Heartburn
Milk is a natural antacid and can combat heartburn which is a common occurrence during pregnancy, thanks to all the hormones that are playing havoc within the mother’s body. Since it is not advisable to take over-the-counter medications when you are pregnant, milk becomes an excellent solution to heartburn. ‘In fact, drinking a glass of warm milk right before bedtime improves the quality of sleep for pregnant mothers because insomnia is common during pregnancy. However, never drink milk immediately after a meal,’ cautions Dr. Sabrina.
Healthy Way to Stay Hydrated
Dr Sabrina Kitaka says that keeping yourself hydrated while pregnant is extremely important because the baby is also drawing fluids from your body. Milk will help you keep the hydration level of the body up.
Higher Level of Insulin
Milk contains a higher level of insulin. Studies have proven that children born to women who regularly consumed milk during their pregnancy had a lesser risk of contracting diseases or developing Type 2 diabetes in their late teens, according to Dr. Sabrina.
Enhances the Fetal Brain Development
Milk has a significant quantity of iodine. IQ development in children is key and Iodine is a key component. Also, being rich in proteins, amino acids, and fatty acids, milk helps with the development of the baby’s nervous system.’
Dr. Kitaka says milk can be extremely beneficial during pregnancy if taken correctly and cautions that pregnant mothers should avoid dairy products made from unpasteurized milk, endeavor to drink warm milk, never gulp milk fast, but enjoy it in small sips. Once in a while, you can give it a twist by diluting milk with water (two portions of milk to one portion of water); preparing fruit shakes and smoothies by adding fruits; or pouring it over your breakfast cereal.