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To Eat Or Not To Eat: A Guide To Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

Assist. Prof. Dr. Shazia Rafiq

2 min read

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Every mother-to-be is dedicated to providing her growing baby with the right nutrition. However, the lines between what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’ are often blurred; owing to the gargantuan amount of information available online, and of course, traditional beliefs. So, to ease your worries here is a comprehensive list of foods to eat and abstain from during these 9 months:

To Eat:

1- Cooked Eggs:

Eggs are natural sources of proteins, vitamins, minerals and the lesser known ‘choline’, whose deficiency has been linked to neural tube defects and decreased brain function in newborns. Aim to eat at least 2 whole eggs (the whites and yolks) a day, as one egg contains 113 mg of choline i.e. 25% of the recommended daily intake. Just remember to cook your eggs until the yolk and whites are completely solid to avoid a salmonella infection that can induce vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and even, early labor.

2- Yogurt:

With a higher calcium content than milk and the additional ability to reduce yeast infections (which many pregnant women are prone to), yogurt is the perfect alternative for lactose intolerant women in order to meet their daily calcium requirements.

3- Berries:

These flavorful, watery fruits are not only low in calories, making them the perfect snack, but also provide large amounts of vitamin C (an antioxidant that prevents cell damage and aids iron absorption), fiber, and various other plant compounds-all necessary for improving skin health and boosting the baby’s immune system

4- Dates:

While all dried fruits contain similar amounts of nutrients found in fresh fruit, namely, fiber, potassium, iron, and calcium; with zero water content, consumption of dates during the 3rd trimester can help during labor by dilating the cervix. However, since they contain large amounts of natural sugar, limit your consumption to one serving a day.

5- Apples:

In addition to large stores of vitamin A, C and potassium-all necessary for healthy fetal (baby) development-regular consumption of this year-round fruit during pregnancy has been linked to a reduced risk of developing childhood asthma and allergies.

6- Whole Grains:

Pregnant women often display a lack of B-vitamins, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, and selenium, a deficiency of which can hinder the baby’s development. Whole grains, along with helping meet the increased pregnancy calorie requirement (an additional 350-500 calories), are rich sources of these vital nutrients. Examples include oats, millet, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice.

To Avoid:
1- Unpasteurized Milk and Juices:

Pregnant women are at an increased risk of contracting Listeriosis, a fatal disease that can lead to severe illness, miscarriage or, stillbirth, and is caused by the bacteria ‘Listeria’, which can be found in raw, or unpasteurized milk and cheese. Remember to boil raw milk before use, or drink UHT (Ultra-heat treated) aka long-life milk for the duration of your pregnancy. Similarly, opt for home-squeezed instead of store-bought fresh juice as it can may contain harmful bacteria and toxins.

2- Vitamin A Supplements:

While integral for overall fetal development and avoiding respiratory infections, supplements typically contain large amounts of the antioxidants that can lead to birth defects. Choose instead to fulfill your dietary requirements via natural sources such as sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.

The Gray Area:

1- Fish:

The omega-3 in seafood is necessary for brain and eye development, making it a pregnancy diet staple. However, since all fish contain traces of mercury, that has adverse effects on the baby’s nervous system, limit your seafood consumption to twice a week i.e. 12 ounces, with the recommended varieties being salmon, shrimp and canned light tuna.

2- Caffeine:

Since it absorbs quickly into the bloodstream, and consequentially, the fetus (exposing it to various birth defects), limit your caffeine consumption to 300 milligrams a day. Caffeine contents in common products are:

  • one cup of coffee: 60-120mg
  • one cup of tea: 10-50mg
  • one 375g can of cola: 48.75mg
  • one 100g milk chocolate bar: 20mg

Energy drinks, however, should be avoided entirely.

3- Mangoes:

While an excellent alternative source of Vitamin C with one cup being sufficient for attaining the daily vitamin C requirement, it is recommended that you eat this fruit in moderation and mix it with other fruits due to the high vitamin A content in Mangoes.

Note:

Make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly, and avoid eating food that has been left outside for more than 2 hours without reheating it until it is steaming to avoid infection.

Since food requirements and sensitivities vary from person to person, consult with your Gynecologist or Nutritionist to get a complete, personalized pregnancy diet plan.

At oladoc, we can help you find and book confirmed appointment with the top Gynecologist in Peshawar, Karachi, and Multan. Moreover, you can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 and seek the best appointment with the doctor near you.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Assist. Prof. Dr. Shazia Rafiq - Author Assist. Prof. Dr. Shazia Rafiq is a Gynecologist and Obstetrician. She has an M.B.B.S., F.C.P.S. ( Gynecologist and Obstetrician ) degree along with an experience of 20 years. She is also a member of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). Assist. Prof. Dr. Shazia Rafiq practices as a Gynecologist at Al-Haram Clinic and Online Video Consultation and charges 700 and 500 respectively.
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