Looking after your kid’s health begins not at birth but from the moment you discover you are expecting. What foods should you be eating? Which ones should you be avoiding? What is the impact, positive or negative, of certain foods upon your health?
We might begin by saying that you should be following a sensible and healthy eating plan most of the time, whether pregnant or not. However, if you do not, pregnancy is a good time start as your baby’s health so heavily depends on you.
Are you planning a baby?
It is a fact, many pregnancies are unplanned. But for those of you planning a baby it might make sense to have some genetic counseling if you are aware of some hereditary family conditions. Basically, genetic testing and analysis of genes has in this day and age revealed a lot about the nature of these hereditary conditions. You might want to consult a genetic specialist or prenatal care provider to assess your genetic health, that of your partner and your family medical histories. If there are any genetic diseases known to run in the family, it might make sense to assess the risk of your baby developing the disease. Preconception genetic testing can not only estimate the likelihood of your baby getting a given illness but can also mean doctors can ensure prenatal care is tailored to the needs of the baby which might be suffering from the condition.
Cheers to your pregnancy- not with a glass of champagne but with a glass of water. Drinking lots of water is important. Pregnant women tend to suffer from dehydration and constipation. Water is a great solvent for many important minerals and ions, helping these get efficiently absorbed by your system. It helps you body detoxify, cleanse itself and maintain homeostasis (this latter one being a big word referring to keeping your internal body temperature and conditions constant).
Avoid alcohol at all costs, starting from the second you discover or suspect you are pregnant. Drinking whilst pregnant can have some very serious effect on your unborn baby. It can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome which in the vast majority of cases also leads to mental retardation and facial deformities.
Veggies & Fruits
There are absolutely no no-no veggies- you can eat all you want, whichever you prefer so as long you ensure they are well washed. Ideally, try to eat as wide a range as possible as different vegetables contain different vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Moreover, they are very important for your fibre intake – roughage for your digestive system that will help avoid constipation. Eat lots of dark green vegetables: good sources of folic acid. The highest in folic acid include spinach, broccoli and the most disliked of all vegetables, brussel sprouts. Folic acid is extremely important to prevent neural tube defects such as Spina bifida (a birth defect of the back bone) or anencephaly (a birth defect in which the skull does not from).
Fruits are also important of course. You can get valuable vitamin C from oranges and apricots or strawberries. Whilst most people associate vitamin C with a strong immune system and fighting disease, this vitamin plays many more important roles: It helps build healthy muscle, tissue, bones and cartilage. If it has all these benefits for you, it also has the exact same benefits for your baby.
What about health teeth and bones? Well to make sure your baby develops these, you need to take in adequate amounts of vitamin A. Your biggest sources of the vitamin should be from fruits and vegetables: sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots to mention a few. Animal products such as eggs and liver also contain vitamin A, but these should be consumed to moderate extent. Not taking enough vitamin A could result in sight problems with your baby, under developed teeth or very weak teeth and immune system problems. Too much vitamin A can cause liver toxicity. Aim for not more than 3,000 mcg RAE.
Foods that are banned
Avoid any raw or undercooked meat, fish or eggs. These can lead to a parasite infection which could in turn lead to miscarriage or death at birth. Other foods to avoid include mouldy cheeses and any product that has not been pasteurized. These could be sources of Listeria – a bacterial infection which can lead from anything to premature birth to miscarriage. Other foods to steer clear of include caffeine and pâtés.
So healthy eating during pregnancy is nothing too drastic or difficult. It is in fact, a sensible eating plan you should follow for life (save the a few exceptions of the no-no foods which can be consumed when you are not pregnant).