How the provision of information in the antenatal period can positively affect health and life style choices in the pregnant woman and her family.
It is a recognised certainty that nutrition is a fundamental requirement to sustain a healthy lifestyle and is also extremely valuable when recovering from an illness or an injury. Nutrients are absorbed in the body and this physiological process is essential for homeostasis and ensuring equilibrium is sustained within the body as without enough food and drink the body will not function correctly (Edwards & Thomas, 2009). This essay will provide information on folic acid and its properties, its role and the midwife’s role and responsibility in informing women in the early stages of pregnancy and the importance that it has.
An ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, believed that any illness that was suffered by humans was due to their bad eating habits as well as their poor nutrition intake and historically, Hereditarians implied that the health of a fetus and the future of it was determined by its genes at conception, retrospectively evidence suggests that with the lack of nutrition a fetus receives, is a major contributory factor for future diseases (Edwards & Thomas, 2009).
Folic acid and folate is a B vitamin and an important part of nutritional intake. The B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism and folic acid and folate are both forms of vitamin B9 (Barrowclough, 2009). They occur naturally in food and can also be taken as supplements. Vitamin B has a wide range of functions that occur biologically in the body and during pregnancy an important factor of vitamin B9 is the production and maintenance of new cells. Vitamin B9 also has major health benefits during pregnancy by helping to protect against a number of congenital malformations including neural tube defects (NTD) (Zeng, 2010).
In pregnancy the body needs to produce cells to help with the development and nourishment of the growing fetus; it also helps to make red blood cells . During pregnancy, risks can be associated with toxaemia, premature birth and haemorrhaging if there is no folic acid in the diet (Youngson, 2005). Folic acid contributes to several major biological processes and these include the combination of RNA, DNA and proteins. It is needed to help with the repair and replication of DNA and the maintenance of the genome and it is also involved in the regulation of gene expression (Hendler & Rorvik, 2008).
Folate is a natural occurrence in foods such as beans and pulses (e.g. lentils and chickpeas), leafy green vegetables, broccoli, spinach, tuna and oranges (Tiran, 2000). Some foods are also fortified with folic acid such as cereals and bread. Late in the 1990’s United State scientists came to the realisation that despite the availability of folic acid in supplements as well as foods available in the supermarkets, people were still finding it a challenge to meet their...