Diet and Pregnancy

Everyone’s life is filled with seasons of celebrations. As a young adult my life has been in wedding season for the past few summers and will again be filled with eight beautiful weddings of close friends and family members this summer and fall. I can’t think of many things more fun to celebrate…that is until the next wave hits. I feel the air shifting and the next era of celebrations approaching: babies. A few of my friends already have little bundles of joy, some have “buns in the oven” and a lot of people around me keep talking about the time approaching. With all the talk about babies and pregnancy I thought I’d make my next post about nutrition and pregnancy. Some things, like avoiding alcohol, are well known to women but there are other things that aren’t common knowledge. I’m sure this topic will come up again in more detail down the road when I am pregnant but for now I’ll just answer some commonly asked questions about eating during pregnancy.

I was told to avoid cold lunch meats, hotdogs, soft cheeses, refrigerated meat spreads and refrigerated smoked seafood unless it has been reheated (to 160 degrees). Why is that?

Listeria is rare type of bacteria found in water and soil that pregnant women are more susceptible to that can be found in ready to eat foods. Listeriosis puts you and your baby at risk of a premature birth, miscarriage or death.

What other foods should I avoid?

Unpasteurized milk, raw shellfish or eggs. Also, shark, swordfish, mackerel and tilefish are high in mercury and should be avoided. Canned, chunk light tuna is usually lower in mercury and can be eaten in moderation.

What’s the scoop on Caffeine during pregnancy?

Caffeine is a stimulant, which increases blood pressure and heart rate which aren’t recommended during pregnancy. It can also increase your risk of dehydration since it is a diuretic. Caffeine can cross the placenta to your baby and your baby’s metabolism can not fully metabolize it so it is important to limit the amount of caffeine you are drinking. The less caffeine you consume the better.  Experts have stated that a moderate level of caffeine (150mg – 300mg/day) has not found negative effects on pregnancy. Discuss it with your doctor if you have further concerns

I’ve heard that Omega-3’s are good to take while you’re pregnant. Is this true?

Yes. Omega-3’s are not synthesized by our bodies and they are essential for health and development. Omega-3s are essential for neurological and early visual development of babies and they are also used after birth to make breast milk and most diets are lacking in Omega-3 intake. The two most beneficial Omega-3’s to consume are EPA and DHA. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA) “Increased intake of EPA and DHA has been shown to prevent pre-term labor and delivery, lower the risk of pre-eclampsia and may increase birth weight and gestational weight.” Good food sources of these fatty acids are salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies. The APA also says that quality fish oil is safe to take during pregnancy. Ask your gynecologist about taking a fish oil supplement and how much they recommend.

What about Flax seed as a source of Omega’3s?

Flax seed contains Omega-3’s but in the form of ALA. While this was once thought to convert to DHA and EPA most studies now find that the conversion is inefficient and rarely occurs.

I always hear people say I’m eating for two? How many more calories do I really need during pregnancy and what other nutrients do I need more of?

You will need more nutrients when you are pregnant but your calorie requirements only increase by about 300 calories per day during your second and third trimester. You will also want to focus on getting 75-100 grams of protein per day. It is also important to focus on getting enough Calcium, Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin C.

Know someone pregnant who has more questions? Submit a comment and I’ll make sure to answer it. Oh yes and one last important thing. If you plan on getting pregnant soon or are pregnant make sure you are taking a multivitamin.

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