Delivering a normal baby is what every woman dreams of. It isn’t enough that a mother carries her baby to term and delivers it. She has certain responsibilities to the unborn child and to the Almighty Being to take care of the fetus from the moment of conception to delivery. The mother’s womb is the best environment to nurture a baby, and through the mother’s diet, she can be assured of a healthy baby.
A mother should eat well during pregnancy. She needs an extra calories daily, especially in the last trimester when the baby is growing quickly. During the entire nine months of pregnancy, a mother should gain at least 25-30 pounds. And of course, the baby’s health depends greatly on what the mother eats. Studies show that there is a strong link between a baby’s health and the kind of food that its mother ate during her pregnancy.
A pregnant woman can eat almost anything , as long as it is in moderation. However, there are certain foods and drinks that she should take with caution, or totally avoid. The following are the drinks and foods to avoid during pregnancy:
1) Alcohol. No level of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy, because no one metabolizes the same way. Since it’s impossible to identify safe dose, experts advise abstinence. Avoid all alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, hard liquor, wine coolers, and mixed drinks. It can cross the placental barrier and may cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). It is a permanent syndrome characterized by poor growth, abnormal facial features, and damage to the central nervous system. In addition, babies with FAS have abnormally small heads and brains, hearts, spines and other anatomical defects. They may also suffer from mental retardation, delays in physical developments, vision and hearing problems, and a variety of behavioral patterns. FAS is also linked to pre-term deliveries and low birth weight.
2) Caffeine. About 1-2 cups of 6-8 ounce of coffee or tea or soda with caffeine may perk up the mother and won’t hurt the baby. But it’s wise to avoid consuming more because too much can lead to miscarriage. Caffeine can prevent the absorption of folic acid, iron, and calcium. Switch to decaf if the craving for coffee is too much.
3) Fish. It is good, but limit the type of fish you eat because of increased level of mercury in certain fish which can cause damage to the nervous system of the fetus. White tuna (canned albacore) and tuna steaks generally have higher mercury levels than canned light tuna. Other fish high in mercury are sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. The USFDA recommends that you eat no more than 6 ounce per week. Also avoid eating raw o uncooked fish, for they may be contaminated with harmful bacteria.
4) Raw Foods.
- Avoid eating raw fish and seafoods as they may be contaminated with microbes such as Salmonella and E. Coli
- Hamburger and steaks should be well done. Deli meats should be reheated before they are eaten.
- Eggs, especially the yolk, should be broken and cooked thoroughly. Certain salad dressings, sauces and deserts which contain raw egg should be avoided. These include Caesar’s dressing, Hollandaise sauce, mousse and Tiramisu.
- Avoid soft unpasteurized cheese such as Feta, goat cheese, Brie, Camembert, blue cheese, queso blanco, queso Fresco, and Panela. Cheeses made from pasteurized milk are safe to eat.
- Avoid unpasteurized juices, milk, and apple cider.
- Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly. Be wary of vegetables at salad bars. Certain vegetables may be contaminated with Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria, and Toxoplasma.
5) Herbal Tea. We don’t know yet the effect on the child. Stay away from raspberry tea, cohosh, ginseng and green tea. These may stimulate uterine contractions
6) Refrigerated pates or meat spreads should be avoided because they may be contaminated with Listeria. Canned preparations are safer to eat.
7) Stay away from poorly packaged or stored foods. Any food which has been on the conter for more than two hours is no longer safe to eat.
A vegetarian should take supplements to get the nutrients she needs such as vitamin B 12, folic acid, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and good amount of protein at each meal.
If you had already eaten some of these foods, don’t worry, but try to avoid them during the remainder of the pregnancy.