Nutrition and HIV for Moms-to-Be
December 5, 2012
Adding healthful, wholesome foods to your diet can be an added expense. Staying within a budget and finding deals will require creativity and planning to purchase and incorporate whole foods that represent a rainbow of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and lean proteins on a daily basis. Many neighborhoods have community supported agriculture (CSA) programs that operate on a sliding scale. People that purchase a share will be able to pick up weekly portions of fresh seasonal produce.
In addition, there may be a food co-op near you. At food co-ops, each member volunteers for a set amount of time so the co-op is able to offer foods to its members at reduced prices. Families that are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can use their EBT cards at green markets, and may even receive additional incentives such as added dollars for each dollar spent at a green market. Pregnant women and those with children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk and meet the income eligibility may want to explore the options that the WIC program offers in terms of nutrition education, nutrition assistance and other resources. If you are eligible, your local WIC center is also a place where you may be able to meet with a dietitian to help you develop an individual nutrition prescription, as mentioned above. You can read more about WIC and other nutrition programs here.
Once you have the baby, your nutrition still matters. If you live in a high-income country where replacement feeding is available and safe, you will most likely not be breastfeeding as this is the recommendation to reduce a baby's risk of becoming HIV positive. You will want to return to your pre-pregnancy healthful balanced diet to support healthful recovery after your birth -- or your surgery, if you delivered via Cesarean section. This will include consuming enough fluids, and returning to exercise when your OB or midwife gives the OK. And if you just came around to eating a balanced diet when you became pregnant, keep it up now that your baby is here -- for your own health!
It is important to remember that throughout your pregnancy, your number one goal is to stay healthy and have a healthy child. This means listening to your body and giving it what it needs in terms of proper nutrition, adequate hydration and rest for the duration of your pregnancy. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to your OB, midwife or dietitian -- remember, your health and the health of your baby are their goals as well!
Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., currently works as the food and nutrition program manager at a community-based organization in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she counsels clients and runs a soup kitchen and food pantry. Maya welcomes nutrition-related questions; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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