Pregnancy is considered to be a beautiful and special event in a woman’s lifetime. During this time, both your nutrient and calorie intake increases to support the baby’s growth and development. It’s necessary that the food they are eating is of high quality and nutritious and avoid those foods that may harm their baby.
It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy. Actually, it’s the best sign that the baby in your womb is growing. So, here’s a guide to what you should be eating as well as what foods to avoid during pregnancy.
FOODS TO EAT
Fruits And Vegetables
They help prevent constipation as they are great sources of fiber. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in vitamin C which increases iron absorption from foods.
Salmon, Flaxseeds, Chia Seeds, Walnuts And Soy Nuts
All these foods have omega-3s. Salmon is high in DHA which good for the baby’s brain development.
Meat, Fish, Eggs, Beans, And Nuts
Fish and meat are all good sources of vitamin B12 while peanuts and eggs are rich in choline. These foods can provide protein and iron.
Spinach, Wheat Germ, And Beans
These foods are rich in folate which is needed by the body to support the normal development the baby’s nervous system.
Dairy Or Calcium-Enriched Dairy Alternatives
These include cheese, milk, calcium-set tofu of calcium-enriched orange juice or plant milk.
Continuous consumption of these nutrient-rich foods during pregnancy will contribute to your health as well as your child’s development. But take note that you should always make sure to base most of your diet to whole and unprocessed foods.
Aside from these foods mentioned about, proper hydration is also necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Enough water intake can prevent constipation and dissolve waste products thus, making it easy to be flushed out through the kidneys. Also, fatigue, headaches, swelling and premature contractions can also be prevented.
During pregnancy, the recommended fluid intake from beverages is estimated at 10 cups (2.3 liters) per day. Check the color of your urine to see if you are drinking enough water. A light color is a good sign that you are drinking enough.
FOODS TO AVOID
Most pregnant women are at higher risk of food poisoning, particularly from bacteria and parasites like Salmonella, Toxoplasma, and Listeria. Here is the list of foods to avoid or to consume rarely during pregnancy:
Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine can be easily absorbed by the mother and quickly passes to the baby. Sadly, unborn babies lack the main enzyme needed to absorb caffeine and high-level intake of the mother can build up in the baby which could lead to a higher risk of poor growth and development of chronic disease in adulthood, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Because of these, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to about 2-3 cups or 200 mg per day.
Soft Cheeses, Deli Meats And Unpasteurized Foods
Avoid deli meats, unpasteurized dairy products or juices and soft cheeses because they all contain numerous types of bacteria. Listeria is one of them, which can harm the unborn baby and increases the risk of miscarriage.
The most effective way to kill these bacteria is through pasteurization. As much as possible, choose foods and drinks that have been pasteurized.
Sprouts And Raw Eggs
Salmonella can be found in raw eggs and sprouts. These type of bacteria can cause flu-like symptoms in the mother and cramps in the uterus which can lead to premature birth or stillbirth.
Because of these, pregnant women are advised not to eat raw sprouts and properly cook egg-containing products.
Raw Or Undercooked Meat, Fish And Seafood
The risk for infection with various parasites and bacteria can also be increased by eating raw undercooked meat, fish, and shellfish.
In some cases, bacteria can be passed to the unborn baby without causing symptoms for the mother. An example of this is Listeria, which sometimes can be found in raw fish.
Make sure that all the fish and meat you’ll be eating is properly cooked because bacterial infections can lead to miscarriages, premature delivery, blindness, stillbirths, mental retardation and other serious health problems.
Toxoplasma is a dangerous parasite that can be found on the surface of fruits and vegetables. Once infants are infected with this parasite, they can be born with serious brain or eye damage or may develop blindness or intellectual disabilities in later life. Thoroughly wash, peel or cook all fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of infection.
Certain Herbal Teas
Some herbal teas should be avoided during pregnancy as they can stimulate uterine contractions and bleeding, therefore, increasing the risk of miscarriage.
The safest herbal teas during pregnancy include those with, ginger, citrus and orange peel, linden flower, rose hip or lemon balm. But to be totally safe, limit your intake to 2-3 cups per day.
Meat from organs like liver is high in retinol, an animal form of vitamin A. An unborn baby can be harm with too much retinol. Also, high intakes of cod liver oil should also be avoided for the same reason.
Furthermore, organ meats, as well as its related products, also contain high amounts of copper. This can result in liver toxicity and birth defects.
One of the most common causes of birth defects is alcohol. It may increase the risk of miscarriage when it is consumed during the first trimester. It can also cause fetal alcohol syndrome which may lead to heart defects, mental retardation, and facial deformities. Pregnant women should completely avoid alcohol as it is difficult to estimate its lowest safe level of intake.
Low-Calorie Diet Items and Junk Food
More calories and nutrients are needed by the body to support baby’s growth. Low-calorie “diet” lacks the extra calories you need. While on the other hand, junk foods may provide you with too many calories and encourage overeating which can result in excess weight gain, therefore, increasing risks for birth complications.
Moreover, it can also increase the likelihood of having an overweight child which can have the possibility of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Predatory fish that is found in polluted oceans can easily accumulate high amounts of mercury which are toxic to the kidneys, nervous and immune system. That’s why, fish such as mackerel, tuna, marlin, shark, and swordfish should be limited during pregnancy.
What you eat has a lasting and direct impact on your baby. It’s important to eat nourishing foods to meet your daily requirements. Pay attention to the food hygiene. Prepare your meals in a way that the risk for parasite and bacterial contamination can be reduced.