Pregnancy happens to be one of the most sensitive times in the life of any woman. The habits a pregnant woman forms could affect her health and that of her baby. It is thus extremely important what she does, including what she takes. Expecting mothers are expected (pun!) to pay attention to the foods they eat as certain foods could have negative effects on her. Some foods are not altogether bad as long as they are not consumed in high quantities while others should be completely avoided.
These foods will be looked at below because we want a healthy life for both mother and child.
Raw or Uncooked Fish
Fish when eaten raw could result to several infections. The infections could be viral, fungal or bacterial. Some infections will sometimes affect just the mother, causing her to get weak and dehydrated. Other infections could affect the foetus and lead to very fatal consequences.
Listeria infections are one of the infections you can get from eating undercooked or raw fish. It is the most common infection for pregnant women. Infact, averagely, a pregnant woman is twenty times more susceptible to Listeria infections than the general population. It could be found in contaminated water, soil or in plants. When raw fish is smoked or dried, it could become infected by Listeria.
This kind of infection could be passed to the foetus through the placenta. What’s bad about this kind of infection is that the mother might show no signs of illness whatsoever, leading her to believe all is well. Sometimes, the infection will manifest in stillbirth, miscarriage, premature delivery or other serious issues. It is therefore imperative that pregnant women avoid raw fish, especially shellfish. Sadly, this will include lots of your favourite sushi dishes.
It is true that organ meats are one of the greatest sources of nutrients. Some of the nutrients they contain include vitamin B12, copper, iron and vitamin A. These nutrients are especially wonderful for an expecting mother. However, eating so much of this animal-based vitamin A is not healthy for pregnant women. It could lead to vitamin A toxicity, liver toxicity, high copper levels and eventually birth defects.
It is advised that if a pregnant woman must eat organ meat, she must do so only once a week.
Caffeine is taken in cocoa, carbonated drinks, coffee and tea. It is the most used psychoactive substance in the world. It is recommended that pregnant women take not more than a cup of coffee a day. This is because caffeine is easily absorbed into the body and very quickly goes straight into the placenta to the foetus.
What is scary about it is the fact that foetuses are still developed and thus lack the enzyme that breaks down caffeine. As a result, high amounts of caffeine builds up in the foetus’ system leading to stunted foetal growth and low birth weight at delivery. If you don’t see any problem with low birth weight, then you should know that it is associated with a high risk of chronic diseases in adulthood( heart diseases, heart disease) and infant death.
Taking alcohol could lead to an increased risk of miscarriages and stillbirth. The tiniest amount of alcohol could be dangerous to the unborn child’s brain development. It could also lead to facial deformities, mental retardation and heart defects. This is usually referred to as “foetal alcohol syndrome”. It is best the pregnant woman steers clear of alcohol because not even the tiniest amount is considered safe for her baby.
Rapid growth usually occurs during pregnancy. Pregnant women thus need to take more iron, protein, folate. However, the fact that you eat for two does not encourage taking in extra unhealthy calories. In the second and third trimester, about four hundred extra calories should do. To get the best nutrients, it is advised that you go for whole foods that contain plenty of nutrients that will do for both mother and child. It is normal for the pregnant mother to have unhealthy cravings for junk food. However, junk contains more calories, sugar, fats and less nutrients. It is unhealthy to indulge your cravings as it increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. You also risk giving birth to an overweight child who would eventually become an overweight adult with a lot of health complications.
Unwashed produce like fruits and vegetables are already unhealthy to the general public, imagine how dangerous they could be to the pregnant woman and her baby. They are usually contaminated with several parasites and bacteria. Some of them include Listeria, Toxoplasma, Salmonella and E. coli. We already mentioned how Listeria could infect foods, the others infect foods same way. It could be from the soil, through handling. It could occur at any production stage from growing, harvesting, processing, storing, transporting or retailing. These bacteria are harmful to both mother and child. Toxoplasma is one of the most dangerous parasites, it causes toxoplasmosis. This infection is dangerous because it shows no symptoms whatsoever, even though some people usually just feel sick for close to five weeks.
This infection could affect the sight and intellectual abilities of the baby later on without showing any symptoms at birth.
While you’re pregnant, pay attention to the produce you consume taking special care to make sure they’re always thoroughly washed. It would be better if you just have your vegetables cooked instead, that way the parasites are destroyed by the heat.
Raw or Half-cooked Eggs
Raw eggs are sometimes contaminated with Salmonella. If you suffer from a Salmonella infection, you will experience symptoms like stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and nausea. In some cases, the uterus may become cramped up leading to a stillbirth or premature birth.
Raw or half-cooked eggs are typical of foods like hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise, poached eggs, lightly scrambled eggs, homemade ice cream, salad dressings and cake icings.
Make sure your eggs are always cooked or at least pasteurized before eating.
Pregnant women should always cook eggs thoroughly or use pasteurized eggs.
Raw, Undercooked or Processed Meat
Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli and Toxoplasma infections could be gotten from eating raw or undercooked meat. These infections could be harmful to the foetus, leading to stillbirth and severe neurological problems like mental retardation, epilepsy and blindness. Washing may not do because even though some bacteria are found on the meat’s surface, others could linger between muscle fibres. Foods like deli meat, hot dogs and lunch meat should also be limited as they could be infected during processing or storage.
It is important that pregnant women only consume meat that has been properly cooked and not consume processed meat unless reheated until it is steaming hot.