In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I discussed the essential nutrients during pregnancy and the recommended daily allowance of these nutrients, as well as the importance of water, fiber and pre-natal vitamins.
With any nutritional program, but especially during pregnancy, moderation is critical. If a pregnant woman has a craving for a hot fudge sundae in the middle of the night, will the baby be harmed if mom gives in to this craving?
Of course not. Just use common sense and follow that late night snack with healthy meals and snacks the next day.
However, there are certain types of foods and beverages that you need to closely monitor or eliminate during pregnancy.
Cheese and other unpasteurized dairy products may contain listeria, which can cause flu-like symptoms, premature delivery, or even miscarriage in the most severe cases. Imported soft cheeses like brie and gorgonzola should be avoided completely.
While grass-fed beef is a good source of protein, hot dogs and lunch meats should not be consumed by pregnant women – or anyone for that matter. Personally, I don’t consider these products to be meats because most are processed foods that are loaded with chemicals and preservatives.
It may be tempting after a night of poor sleep to have more than one cup of coffee, but high caffeine and coffee intake has been linked to low birth weight and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Fish are an excellent source of protein. They have the good kind of fat – omega-3 fatty acids – and they’re low in saturated fat. However, to avoid too much mercury consumption, the FDA has recommended that pregnant women consume no more than two servings, or 12 total ounces, of fish per week. If you like tuna, buy fresh albacore tuna instead of canned tuna.
I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I do. There is no acceptable level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and smoking does nothing but harm the mother and child. Those who smoke or drink alcohol open the door to a lifetime of health problems for their children.
Finally, the importance of breastfeeding cannot be overstated. Breast milk contains the vital nutrients that promote healthy brain development and the antibodies that keep the baby from getting sick. It can also help a woman get her pre-pregnancy figure back more quickly. Moms should continue taking pre-natal vitamins after pregnancy so proper amounts of vitamins and nutrients are passed along to the baby.
Regardless of what you might hear in a commercial or read online, there is no formula capable of replacing breast milk. None.
In the final post in our Healthy Mother, Healthy Child series, I’ll discuss what can be done to keep the mother physically comfortable and less stressed during and after pregnancy, and I’ll share a note from a recent patient that makes me extremely proud of the work we do at Natural Healthcare Center.