Calcium and bone metabolism of women during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester, changes to allow for absorption by the growing foetus and lactation.
99 percent of calcium in and adult body is used up in making the skeleton. This content is stable in young to middle aged women normally. If you have not had ovarian failure or suffered from side-effect of any medication or illness affecting the bone density, you can expect to be reasonably safe for taking the strains of pregnancy. During pregnancy, bone metabolism increases to provide for the requirements of the skeletal growth of the foetus.
Calcium and bone metabolism changes during the periods of pregnancy and lactation by 3 to 10 percent. Normally healthy women can shed and regain so much bone density within a few months. The foetus and placenta gain calcium from the circulation in the mother. For lactation, hormonal changes brought about in the mother ensure the right amount of calcium supply to breast milk. The calcium then reaches the nursing infant.
Pregnant women lose as much calcium during third trimester of pregnancy as they do due to lactation. The adjustments in these reproductive periods are not the same. The difference is due to the fact that the process of calcium metabolism brought about by the hormonal changes for lactation is different from bone absorption for skeletal development of foetus. Although the daily maternal calcium losses in the third trimester are similar to the daily calcium losses in breast milk of an exclusively lactating woman, it seems that the adjustments made in each of these reproductive periods differ significantly.
Normally, the foetal skeleton gains 30 grams of calcium by the time gestation ends but 80 percent of bone formation or accretion occurs rapidly in the third trimester. The daily accretion rate comes out to be 250 to 300 milligrams of calcium in this trimester. For this reason, the expecting mother is required to increase the absorption of calcium to meet the growing the demand of her baby.
The increased demand for calcium in the body can also be met by re-absorption of calcium from the maternal skeleton. It has been observed that modification in the intestinal calcium absorption is the major contributor for meeting the increased demand. Some part of the demand is also met by the maternal skeleton. There is yet another way of getting more calcium for the body, i.e. decreasing renal calcium losses, but the other two ways are the foremost. Women should consult their doctor in the third trimester about increasing their calcium intake to allow for its absorption.
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