With your pregnancy comes new responsibilities for your child and yourself. There are some dietary adjustments you'll have to make for the benefit of your child’s immunity and growth, especially during your first trimester.
This guide summarises the food you should be careful not to eat when pregnant. It is always a good idea to consult with your preferred doctors for medical advice if you are unsure about what you eat, have eaten, or would like to keep eating through your pregnancy.
The food you were eating before your pregnancy may not be adequate when you're growing a child. With a healthy diet, you should gain an additional 7kg to 18kg of weight during pregnancy. If you are carrying twins, you could gain upwards of 16 to 20kg. This additional weight includes your fully grown child, a placenta, amniotic fluids, an expanded uterus, maternal breast tissue, maternal blood, other fluids in maternal tissue, maternal fat, and nutrient stores.
Your child will make up only a fraction of the additional mass needed to support them in the womb and beyond. You will need an excess of proteins, calories and other nutrients to ensure healthy foetal development and to maintain your own wellbeing as your body changes.
It is important to adjust your diet early during pregnancy to help your child build a strong immune system.
Switch simple carbs for nutrient-rich complex carbs.
Refined carbs like white bread and white rice are processed and stripped of most of their natural nutrients, fibre, vitamins and minerals. When you find out that you are pregnant, you should trade some of these everyday foods for brown bread, dried beans, peas, or potatoes baked or steamed in their skins. They are a source of complex carbs that provide more nutrition and less damaging blood sugar level changes.
Increase your folic acid intake.
Also known as Vitamin B9, folic acid helps you produce new red blood cells to support you during pregnancy and birth. It also helps your child develop a healthy central nervous system. Low folic acid intake during pregnancy can cause neural tube defects in the brain, spine or spinal cord which can lead to paralysis at birth. Naturally occurring folic acid can be found in dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, romaine lettuce and collard greens. You can ask your doctor for supplementary folic acid tablets if you are particularly concerned about skull and spinal defects.
Supplement with Omega-3 and DHA. Supplement with Omega-3 and DHA.
These should be familiar as some of the most frequently touted nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. These nutrients are building blocks for your child’s brain, nervous system and eyes. Have more amounts of fully-cooked deep sea fishes like herring, sardine, tuna (canned light) and mackerel that are naturally high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Take your pregnancy supplements
Your healthcare provider may prescribe pills to boost your body's Vitamin A, B Complex, C, D, calcium and iron over the course of your pregnancy. Take these supplements with water, as they will best help your body efficiently absorb the much-needed nutrients.
Here comes the big list of food and drinks you need to avoid from the start of your pregnancy. It can be a hassle, but these are necessary sacrifices you must make to ensure both you and your child stay healthy and develop as well as possible.
Have caffeine, but not too much of it.
The good news is that caffeine is safe for pregnant women and you can have your steaming hot cup of coffee at any time of the day. However, you should avoid having more than 200mg of caffeine—two mugs of tea or instant coffee, or one mug of filter coffee. Too much coffee may result in your child being underweight at birth, having a faster heartbeat and breathing rates, and also having difficulty sleeping.
Do not consume alcohol.
Alcohol is a toxin that slows down our nervous system. Alcoholic women often have a low birth weight, birth defects, learning difficulties or social problems. Alcohol also increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). It isn't clear exactly how much alcohol is required to cause foetal development issues, so it is not advisable for pregnant women to drink any amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
Avoid raw foods.
Any raw or undercooked fish, shellfish, meat and eggs should be avoided. That does mean you have to give up sushi dishes that contain raw fish, sunny side up eggs and medium-rare steaks. Raw shellfish, raw meat and raw eggs could contain harmful types of bacteria and parasites that put you at risk of contracting salmonella or toxoplasmosis, both of which has been linked to miscarriage, stillbirth and other serious health issues in developing foetus.
Potential fecal contamination during growth and harvest means vegetables and uncooked flour could also carry the same risk of salmonella. Always opt to get fully-cooked food and vegetables that are thoroughly washed for your salads.
Forgo mould-ripened cheeses with a rind.
Soft cheeses with rinds are less acidic and contain more moisture than hard cheeses. As a result, they are more likely to become ideal environments for harmful bacteria to grow. Whether they are made from pasteurised or unpasteurised milk, cheeses such as brie, blue brie, camembert and taleggio could contain listeria bacteria and should not be eaten during pregnancy. Listeria can cause listeriosis, miscarriage and stillbirth. Some pasteurised soft cheeses are safe to eat—so long as they are made from pasteurised milk and do not have a rind.
Be careful of canned and large fishes.
Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and large tuna are some types of fish that may contain high levels of mercury. Mercury increases the risk of birth defects in the brain and nervous system. As a rule of thumb, the larger and more long-lived the fish, the more mercury it is likely to contain. As such, light canned tuna made from a smaller breed of fish is safer to consume than whole tuna steaks sliced from larger fishes.
However, do note that "canned white" tuna made from albacore have been found to contain three times the mercury level than the safer "canned light" tuna made from comparatively smaller skipjack tuna.
Reduce the intake of fast food and rich foods.
Your digestion system will be slower while pregnant. Heavy food like nasi lemak, roti canai, or foods that are rich in chocolate and cheese may cause indigestion, bloating, acid reflux and gastritis.
Avoid eating herbal products, allopathic drugs, ikan haruan essence, gamat, or supplements containing spirulina (blue-green algae)
Many herbs and herbal teas have yet to be proven to be safe for pregnancy, birth and breast feeding. There has been anecdotal evidence that some herbal medication can lead to excessive bleeding during delivery or cause severe keloids to form. To be on the safe side, it is best to avoid folk remedies unless a certified healthcare professional has given you the go-ahead to continue or start using them.
Lastly, try not to skip meals. Any diet that requires intermittent fasting should be put on hold when you are pregnant. Go ahead and sate any food cravings you may have, ice cream, cookies and all—provided they're in moderation and not one of the listed food you should avoid. There may be days where all your body can tolerate are starchy and carb-heavy potatoes or pasta. It's more important to keep yourself full than starve otherwise. That said, pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness could get in the way of eating three full meals a day. You can break up your usual meals into smaller portions to be eaten at multiple food breaks throughout the day, and buy healthy titbits like fruits and nuts to snack on. It may take a bit of planning to make sure no meals are skipped, but it will be worth it in the long run. Find out more about Frisomum Gold