BUILDING IMMUNITY DURING PREGNANCY: WHY AND HOW?

Embarking on the journey of motherhood means that you have to constantly think of yourself as well as your baby. And boosting your own immunity during pregnancy is one crucial aspect of it. Wondering why? This is because, when your immune system improves, the benefits will be passed on to the little one in your womb too. He or she will be better equipped to fight common illnesses in childhood as well as in future. So, are you looking for ways to build your immunity during pregnancy? This article will help you to get started.

Why is immunity building required during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a woman’s body begins to undergo numerous changes as it prepares to nurture the foetus. The body needs to make many adjustments in order to stabilize the pregnancy as well as protect the baby from infectious diseases. A woman’s immune system changes during pregnancy and is considered to be in a state of uniqueness. The changes that occur follow a particular pattern. Due to these changes, many people think that women have a weakened immune system during pregnancy. However, this is not true. Contrary to common belief, a woman’s immunity during pregnancy is not weakened, but rather strengthened.

The immune system plays the most important role when it comes to protecting the mother and the baby against various ailments. The immune cells are present at the site of implantation, in order to ensure that the pregnancy lasts. It is the most important system which works to protect the foetus and the mother from damage and environmental harm.

During pregnancy, the mother’s nutritional requirement also increases. This is because the food consumed should be enough for the appropriate development of the foetus and should allow the mother to achieve a healthy pregnancy weight. Therefore, it is important for an expecting mother to follow a healthy and balanced diet. Nutritional intake can have a major impact on the immune system.

How to boost the immune system when pregnant?

It’s not a very good feeling when one falls sick, and even more so during pregnancy. The mother already experiences several discomforts that accompany pregnancy and the last thing she wants is to fall sick. So, one should have a strong immune system for that. A healthy diet is the key. Hence, the following nutrients should be included in your diet:

Range of Vitamins

The best way to incorporate range of vitamins into the diet is by having a good mix of foods from all five food groups, every day. Vitamins help in boosting the immune system. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, and vegetables, are rich in vitamins and minerals.

  • Vitamin D is considered to be the most important pregnancy vitamin and can be found in fatty fish, cheese,mushrooms and egg yolks.
  • Vitamin E boosts the immune system as it works as an antioxidant. Foods such as sunflower oil and nuts are good sources of this vitamin.
  • Vitamin C also has a positive effect on immunity. Fruits such as oranges, papaya, and watermelon can provide good amounts of this vitamin.

All vitamins must be taken in moderation during pregnancy. Sometimes, food intake of vitamins might not be enough and dietary supplements might have to be taken, as per the recommendation of your doctor. However, one must have wholesome meals along with supplements.

Proteins

Foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, peas, beans, dairy products, and soy are rich in proteins. Proteins are required for numerous functions in the body and have a positive effect on the body’s immune system. Insufficient protein in the diet can have negative effects on the immune system and the overall health of the mother.

Probiotics

Yoghurt is considered to be a natural probiotic. Probiotics not only help in digestion but also enhance immune function.

Zinc

Zinc is said to be helpful in healing wounds and enhancing the function of the immune system. This element can be found in milk, fish, chicken, beans, and seafood.

Other Minerals

Minerals such as iron, iodine, and selenium are also known to have a positive impact on pregnancy, as they help in the development of the foetus. Selenium, in particular, can have a positive effect on immune response. You should always try and obtain these minerals from natural food sources. Any supplement should be taken only after consulting a doctor. Foods such as fortified atta, fortified salt, dates, dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and watermelon are good sources of these minerals.

Hydration

It is important to drink adequate amounts of fluid during pregnancy. One might lose body fluids due to morning sickness or due to increased urination. Inadequate intake of water can lead to dehydration, which can put the mother at risk of lowered immunity, leading to other problems.

Also, it is important to get enough sleep and adequate physical exercise during pregnancy.

Key points to remember

A woman’s immune system during pregnancy is not the same as what it was before, and changes in a certain way, as the pregnancy progresses. The immune system works towards protecting the foetus and the mother from various harms. Your diet can however affect the immune system, and therefore, in order to boost it, you must consume a balanced meal with the adequate amount of macro and micro nutrients.

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