Since the fetus derives it’s entire nutrition only from the mother, there is a definite impact of the mother’s nutritional status on it. Most often even if the mother does not consume the required amounts of nutrients, the fetus draws from the mother’s stores and uses them at the mother’s expense. Therefore it is important that the mother consumes sufficient amounts of the essential nutrients both for herself and for the fetus.
A woman who has been well nourished before conception begins her pregnancy with reserves of several nutrients so that the needs of growing fetus can be met without affecting her health.
Poor stores of nutrients in pre and early pregnancy leads to formation of a small placenta. A small placenta is unable to draw maximum nutrients from mother leading to unavailability of nutrients to the fetus during the critical periods of growth.
Better nutrient intake later on will not alter placental size. Therefore the new born will be small in size and weak.
If the new born is a girl, she will be undernourished, unable to achieve her full potential growth and may produce small babies at a later stage. Thus, a woman’s pre pregnancy nutritional status will have an impact on future generations to come. Therefore maternal nutrition directly contributes to the well being of mother and child, Mother should be of normal weight at the time of conception.
Pregnancy starts from time of conception and lasts for 40 weeks.
Up to 8th week of life it is called embryo. Up to 8 weeks after its conception, a human embryo develops from an ovum into a fetus. In the next 30 weeks, the incomplete fetus continues to develop. When its body is finally mature enough, the infant is born, at about 38-40 weeks after conception. During a pregnancy, the mother nourishes the fetus through the placenta, an organ that forms in her uterus to accommodate the growth and development of the fetus
FIGURE: The fetus in relationship to the placenta. The placenta is the organ through which nourishment flows to the fetus.