The moment you find out you’re pregnant — it’s an exciting and overwhelming experience. Once you have conceived a child, you have a responsibility to take care of not only yourself, but also a developing fetus. Of course, you should focus on nutrient-rich foods, but you also need to be aware of potentially harmful foods.
Feed Your Baby the Right Foods
We all know the old saying — you are what you eat. In terms of pregnancy, the foods you eat could essentially influence your baby’s future. Before we get into what you should avoid, let’s highlight some of the key nutrients you need in order to achieve a successful and healthy pregnancy.
- Folic acid — If you are trying to get pregnant, you should be increasing your folic acid intake before you conceive. Once you do find out, whether you were planning for a baby or not, as long as you consume sufficient amounts of this B-vitamin during the first trimester, you will reduce neural-tube defects, such as spina bifida by 50 to 70 percent.
- Iron — Both you and your fetus need enough iron, as it helps make extra blood for you and your baby during pregnancy. It also helps transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, all while preventing extreme fatigue from a condition called iron deficiency anemia.
From calcium to B-complex vitamins, you need to ensure that your diet is varied and packed with nutrients. What you eat during pregnancy can affect the development of your child.
Avoid These Foods While Pregnant
As mentioned, your baby relies on you to get the nutrients they need. If you’re eating rubbish food, not only will you be deficient, but your baby will as well. Remember, your baby’s brain and organs will be developing, so they need the right fuel in order to grow and function effectively. Then again, it’s not just about nutrients in terms of concerns.
Believe it or not, food poisoning can lead to stillbirths, a traumatic event that no mother should have to go through. That’s why you need to be aware of what you’re eating — how was it handled and stored? Some foods will place you at a higher risk of complications, so if you’re currently pregnant, please avoid the following.
- Hot dogs and deli meats
There are two reasons to avoid these. First of all, these foods have been linked to a wide range of health complications, even among those who are not pregnant. Low in nutrients, yet high in nitrates and trans fats, stick to fresh meat and vegetables on your sandwiches.
Second of all, certain meats such as deli turkey breast and bologna, which have not been dried or heated, increase your risk of food poisoning. The same is true with undercooked hot dogs. Do both yourself and your baby a favor, staying clear of these types of heavily processed foods.
- Raw seafood
You may love sushi, but if you’re pregnant, it’s best to avoid any type of raw seafood, including oysters, mussels, clams, and fish. Although fish does have a wide range of health benefits and is part of good neonatal nutrition in Japan, there’s always the risk of consuming fish that’s high in mercury or is carrying parasites.
- Fast food
Once again, low in nutrients, yet high in fat, sugar, and salt, fast food is not only bad for you, but your baby. Some research has shown that when babies are exposed to a salty, sugary, high-fat diet, they develop a taste preference for these types of foods. Not only are they low in nutrients, but they may also lead to greater weight gain.
‘Eating for two’ is no longer valid advice, as far too many expecting mothers gain excessive amounts of weight. This places them at risk for gestational diabetes and even complications during labor. If you’re really craving fast food, make a healthier alternative at home, such as a black bean burger with homemade sweet potato and parsnip chips.
At the end of the day, we all know what’s good for us and what isn’t. Focus on a fresh, whole food diet that is clean and nutritious. Whenever possible, purchase organic in order to reduce your exposure to pesticides, as these have been linked to growth restrictions, miscarriages, birth defects, and immune disorders.