Pregnancy comes with a lot of demands. For Cynthia, these demands met her unprepared. In the 7th month of her pregnancy, she started experiencing lightheadedness and severe fatigue. At the next hospital visit, the doctor calmly encouraged her to increase the calcium in her diet.
How important is this mineral in pregnancy?
In addition to promoting your baby’s growth, it also maintains your own bones and keeps you in good shape all through this journey.
In this post, we’d walk you through five exciting reasons why you should take enough of this essential mineral as a mum-to-be.
We’ll discuss how.
1. Calcium Strengthens Your Baby’s Developing Bones & Teeth.
This essential nutrient helps your baby grow strong bones before birth. Strong bones are crucial for survival outside the womb and we all know that a cute baby smile is incomplete without some of those white teeth.
If you don’t take enough calcium during pregnancy, you’d deprive your baby of what he/she really needs.
2. Calcium Protects You From Bone Related Problems
Inadequate intake of this nutrient during pregnancy exposes a woman to the risk of certain bone related diseases later in life
A classic example is Osteoporosis, which is the reduction in bone size and presence of soft bones as a result of calcium deficiency. This condition arises because inadequate calcium consumption during pregnancy will result in a further depletion of the mother’s reserves (in her bones) to meet the baby’s requirements.
Low levels of calcium in the bones will result in brittle bones.
3. Calcium Reduces The Risk Of Preeclampsia.
In plain terms, preeclampsia is the increase in blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy.
Reduced calcium intake during pregnancy may stimulate certain hormonal systems which alter blood pressure and lead to preeclampsia.
Studies show that pregnant women can reduce the risk of preeclampsia by consuming extra 1000mg of calcium per day. This is a safe and relatively cheap way of reducing the risk of preeclampsia in pregnancy.
4. It Also Helps Prevent Preterm Delivery.
Calcium supplements have been shown to reduce the risk of preterm delivery to a large extent.
How does this work?
Increased levels impair the release of a certain hormone, thereby reducing smooth muscle contraction (including the womb muscles). As a result, the possibility of preterm labour and delivery is greatly reduced.
5. It Reduces The Risk Of Postpartum Haemorrhage.
Postpartum haemorrhage is one of the leading causes of maternal death in the world at large.
It is defined as the loss of blood more than 500mls during a Caesarean section and 1000mls during vaginal delivery. The first line of treatment for postpartum haemorrhage is oxytocin, and calcium is really important for this treatment to function properly.
When there is not enough calcium in the body during delivery, oxytocin may not get enough calcium to bind to, and postpartum haemorrhage occurs.
However, adequate levels in the body allow for smooth movements and effective functioning of hormones.
Get enough calcium during pregnancy, it is really important for your baby’s development and your own well-being too.
The good news is, you can get it easily through your diet or certain drug supplements prescribed by your doctor.
- Ashok Kumar and Simar Kaur (2017). Calcium: A Nutrient in Pregnancy. Accessed on 13th September, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5561751/
- Andrea N Hacker, Ellen B Fung, and Janet C King (2012). “Role of calcium during pregnancy: maternal and fetal needs.” Nutrition Reviews. Accessed on 13th September, 2020 from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00491.x