But most women, when they become pregnant, tend to neglect the need to have a proper diet.
When Marian Chamba (36) of Rugare got pregnant in 2010, she changed her diet, preferring lighter meals.
She was not at all worried about the nutritional value of the food she was eating.
“l became addicted to things like ice-cream, sweets and biscuits, which constituted almost three quarters of my meal,” Chamba said.
“Before the pregnancy I had a good appetite and had normal meals but the food was no longer appetising.”
However, Chamba regrets the fact that she allowed herself to change to an unhealthy lifestyle as a result of the pregnancy.
She believes her baby is now suffering from stunted growth because of her unhealthy eating habits.
“I gave birth to a very tiny baby, she weighed 1,5kg and this was due to my low intake of nutritious food,” Chamba said.
“She is still not developing at a normal pace because she is six months old but looks four months old when I compare her with other babies.
Tasiyana Crispen Nyadzayo, the nutrition manager in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare said a balanced diet was not only vital for the expectant mother but for the unborn child as well.
“Unborn babies need nutrients to develop well and when a mother is pregnant the need for the nutrients increases as two people will be in need of them,” he said.
“We don’t advise pregnant mothers to take supplements of Vitamin A because too much of that might lead to a baby being born disabled. But Vitamin A from food is harmless.”
Nyadzayo said it was important for pregnant mothers to eat a variety of foods as they provide different nutrients and also that too much consumption of one nutrient is not advisable.
“It’s vital for pregnant mothers to have adequate food as less of it might lead to stunted growth of the babies,” he said.
“In Zimbabwe 5% of children under five years have stunted growth and in most cases these children will grow up unhealthy.
“At times this will also affect their height because every individual has the potential to be tall.”
Nyadzayo said pregnant women also needed to eat so that they have enough energy at child birth to reduce the mortality rate.
Pregnant women in Zimbabwe are also fond of Pica, commonly known as “dhaga” but Nyadzayo said it was very risky because it was usually sourced from unhygienic places.