People have heard and seen multiple ads and commercials on various media platforms warning them against the hazards of poor eating habits. From issues with obesity to overeating and even disorders like heart disease and diabetes that can be associated with bad eating. Even though these warnings have been around for centuries some of us still partake in these bad habits.
It makes you wonder what happens to those adults with poor eating habits especially women that become pregnant? When you are pregnant there are a number of dos and don’ts that every mother is given to follow. Especially when it comes to her eating habits.
What the mother consumes will directly affect not only her but also the life of her unborn child. In this piece, we are going to examine the consequences of eating poorly during pregnancy and just what a mother can do to combat it!
Foods to avoid during pregnancy
When pregnant, mothers not only eat and rest just to take care of themselves but also for the health of the baby in the abdomen. Therefore, the daily diet will also have to be changed to suit the baby more. The foods listed here must be consumed reasonably and scientifically to ensure a smooth pregnancy.
Foods to be limited
Coffee and black chocolate
It is recommended that you only consume 200 milligrams of caffeine per day which can be found in two or three 8-ounce cups of coffee. Caffeine can be harmful to the fetus if consumed in large amounts, however, in smaller amounts, it has not been known to cause harm to the mother or the fetus.
Caffeine can stress the fetus as well as the mother’s body and cause dehydration. Products that contain caffeine can also cause abdominal cramps which can be detrimental to a mother that is not yet close to giving labor. There are plenty of caffeine alternatives for mothers to try such as green tea, decaf tea or rooibos.
Hot dogs, bacon and sausage
You can consume these nitrate-rich products when they have been prepared properly. It is recommended that you only consume these types of food in moderation approximately 1-2 times a week once they are steaming hot. If they are not prepared properly they are known to contain nitrates which have been linked to diabetes and brain tumors.
However, due to these types of meats being processed and filled with preservatives, a mother is at risk of contracting listeria which is a deadly bacteria that leaves its victims facing a deadly infection. Mothers may want to seek for roasted chicken instead of prepackaged bacon and sausages.
4 ounces of red wine once or twice a week can be good for people, in general, it promotes a healthy heart. However, drinking during pregnancy can cause FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) which can cause abnormalities and mental retardation.
Alcohol can cause damage to a baby’s spinal cord and brain. It can also damage and stunt the growth of developing cells within your child. Alcohol passes through the mother’s blood and into the baby’s blood once it has been consumed. It is advised that you consume no alcohol whatsoever when you are expecting a child
Soft cheeses contain a bacteria called listeria which can be passed to the fetus and cause stillbirth, miscarriage, or premature delivery. If you are going to eat them make sure that it has been pasteurized. You may consume soft cheeses normally as long as it is pasteurized.
Bacteria is still present in cheeses that have not been pasteurized and these germs can cause an infection that can result in a miscarriage, food poisoning, or infant death. Pregnant women should avoid eating uncooked mold-ripened soft cheeses and soft blue-veined cheeses, as they can contain higher levels of listeria. Choose cheeses that have been labeled as pasteurized before consumption such as hard cheese.
Lunch meats and ham
Deli meat can also harbor the listeria bacteria due to what it takes to keep it from spoiling. You can eat deli meat as long as you heat it before consuming it at the rate of 1-2 times a week. Some deli meats could be dangerous to pregnant mothers are ham, bacon, sausage.
Again as stated above with the nitrate-rich foods listeria can cause an infection that is deadly to the mother and unborn child. Alternatives are grilled or roasted chicken that is steaming hot before you choose to consume.
Make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them because the outside of them may have left behind traces of the bacteria known as E.coli and salmonella. Produce that is not washed can also cause blindness and mental issues in an infant before they are out of the womb. You can eat fresh produce normally as long as you wash it properly beforehand.
Food poisoning can quickly dehydrate and pregnant woman and being hydrated is very important for you and your child. Ensure that you wash the vegetables thoroughly and cook them until done before eating them.
Foods to be absolute avoided
Swordfish, king mackerel, shark, tilefish
They all are high in mercury. Mercury has been linked to damaging the brain and nervous system development of a fetus, so it is best to steer clear of these types of fish.
Mercury can damage your kidneys, lungs, and nervous system which include your brain, spinal cord, and all of your nerves. And for your child is can cause hearing and vision impairment issues. You can be exposed to mercury through fish, dental fillings, industrial processes, and in the air.
To keep from coming in contact with high levels of mercury you should consume fish that is low in mercury no more than twice a week. This type of fish would be salmon, tuna, tilapia, shrimp, cod, and catfish.
Unpasteurized milk & juices
Again the victorious bacteria is the main concern when it comes to this category so it is recommended that you don’t consume any milk or juices that have not been pasteurized.
Listeria is a bacteria found in unpasteurized dairy products and can cause a pregnant woman to become sick and can even result in the death of your unborn child. If it has not been pasteurized, which means it has not gone through the process needed to kill the germs that live in natural dairy.
Alternatives to unpasteurized milk and juices are juices and milk that has been pasteurized. This will ensure that you and your child are both kept safe and healthy from the deadly effects of this bacteria.
Raw or undercooked meat & eggs
Toxoplasma and salmonella are both bacteria that can cause serious health problems like dehydration, low birth weight, premature birth, low amniotic fluid, and more. Anything containing raw eggs or meat should be avoided entirely.
The toxoplasma parasite can cause a pregnant woman to experience flu-like symptoms weeks after coming in contact with the parasite. In a few cases, it has caused miscarriages or the loss of the child during the birthing process.
In order to steer clear of this deadly parasite expecting mothers are advised to make sure any meat or eggs they consume has been cooked properly and well-done. If your food is raw or pink do not eat any of it as it could cause a life-threatening illness to you and your child.
Alfalfa, mung bean, clover, and radish
Avoid these raw sprouts because before the sprout grows bacteria can enter the shell and due to them being eaten raw the bacteria isn’t being eliminated.
Eating sprouts that are raw and have the bacteria within the shell can cause cramps, nausea, diarrhea, food poisoning, and other dangerous diseases. And as we all know it is important for a mother to stay hydrated an illness like this could cause severe dehydration for an expecting mother.
Ensure that you wash raw sprouts prior to consumption and cook them until they are done before choosing to eat them.
Energy drinks & excessive coffee
Drinking energy drinks and too much coffee has been linked to high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms. You must check with your doctor about a safe measurement of coffee to drink per day.
It has been studied that consuming too much caffeine or coffee can cause your fetus to go through DNA mutations that could lead to miscarriage. It can also interfere with your sleep schedule and stress your unborn child.
An alternative to caffeine and coffee lovers is trying decaffeinated teas and coffee that way you don’t have to miss out completely on your favorite beverage but can enjoy it without inflicting harm on you and your child.
Papaya that is not ripe contains latex which triggers the hormones that start labor and cause uterine contractions. It is best to avoid papaya if you are not sure about what stage of ripeness it is in.
Eating unripened fruit can begin the labor process. This is due to the latex chemical found within unripe fruits that cause uterine contractions. Premature labor can risk an underweight child, stress to the fetus, and many other complications.
It is advised if your not sure how to pick out ripened fruit then opt for fruit that comes packaged or pre-cut prior to you purchasing the fruit for consumption.
Fried foods, frosting, butter, biscuit
You want to make sure you don’t consume foods that have too much of the bad fats as they can raise your cholesterol and lowers the heart-protective cholesterol that is made of the good fats.
Trans fat can cause a number of issues in developing fetuses such as altering behavior and emotional responses, manic behavior, psychiatric problems, bipolar disorder, and memory problems.
Mothers are advised to eat foods that contain good fats such as kidney beans or things like avocados that have the fats that contribute to heart-protective cholesterol and not the bad kind of cholesterol.
Dressings, frozen meals, snacks, cereals
Foods with added sugars can put you at risk for gestational diabetes and put stress on you which in turn will stress your fetus because the baby counts on you to nourish it while they are still within the womb. Gestational diabetes can put you at risk for preterm labor, hypertension, and a host of other issues.
Too much of the sneaky sugars and your child could experience intelligence and memory issues later on in the future. Mothers are advised to steer clear of bread, dressings, snacks, and other things because they are made of preservatives that have added sugars in them.
Frozen meals, shelf snacks and lunches, soup, and rolls
They can contain a lot of sodium because they are made out of processed materials. High levels of sodium in your food can cause sweeping and water retention which can cause other pregnancy issues to arise.
Mothers should seek to keep their salt intake low so that their blood pressure remains at an optimal level. High blood pressure could cause preeclampsia and gestational diabetes which both can result in preterm labor and loss of the pregnancy altogether.