Pregnancy is a critical period during which good maternal nutrition is a key factor influencing the health of both child and mother. Maternal weight gain during pregnancy influences infant birth weight and health, and outcomes vary depending on the mother`s prepregnancy nutritional status. Impaired intrauterine growth and development may „program“ the fetus for cardiovascular, metabolic, or endocrine disease in adult life. Maternal obesity increases the risk of gestational diabetes, caesarean deliveries, complications during delivery, macrosomia, congenital defects, and childhood obesity.
Women of childbearing potential should maintain good nutritional status. The key components of a health promoting lifestyle during pregnancy include appropriate weight gain; cosumption of a variety of foods; avoidance of alcohol, tobacco, and harmful substances. Total energy need during pregnancy ranges between 2,500 and 2,700 kcal per day for most women, but prepregnancy body mass index, rate of weight gain, maternal age, and physiological appetite should be considered in tailoring this recommendation for an individual. Supplementation with magnesium, calcium, and zinc, as well as multivitamins and essential fatty acids may also reduce pregnancy related complications and improve the postnatal health of infants.