Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
Nutrition is one of the most important components of a healthy pregnancy, yet many women don’t realize how crucial it is. Use these tips and you’ll decrease your risk of having a baby with health problems.
Avoid High-Mercury Seafood
Seafood is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that can help your baby’s brain develop, but some types of seafood contain dangerously high levels of mercury. Pregnant women should avoid eating swordfish, shark, king mackerel and swordfish entirely. Some women prefer to avoid seafood all together. If you’re in the mood for seafood, stick to wild salmon because it’s low in mercury.
Avoid Raw Fish
Pregnant women should avoid eating raw fish (especially clams and oysters) at all costs to avoid consuming harmful viruses and bacteria.
Avoid Unpasteurized Milk
Pregnant women should avoid anything that contains unpasteurized milk because they can cause food-borne illness. Types of foods made with unpasteurized milk include brie cheese, feta cheese, camembert, blue cheese and Mexican style cheese. In addition, pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized juice.
Take Folic Acid
The CDC suggests taking 400 milligrams of folic acid each day before getting pregnant and for the first three months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of spinal defects
Avoid Raw Eggs
Raw eggs sometimes contain bacteria called salmonella that is dangerous for pregnant women. Pregnant women should avoid eating foods with partially cooked or raw eggs like eggnog. Eggs should be cooked until the yolks are firm and white.
Wash Your Fruits & Vegetables
Pregnant women should always wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. In addition, women should avoid raw sprouts like radish, clover and alfalfa because they can contain bacteria.
Pregnant women should avoid drinking alcohol entirely because it increases the risk of having a stillbirth or miscarriage. Women who drink alcohol have an increased risk of having a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. Fetal alcohol syndrome can lead to mental retardation, abnormal heart structure, behavior problems, infant death and poor growth.
Avoid Too Much Caffeine
Pregnant women should avoid drinking caffeine in excess because it can travel through the placenta and affect the heart rate of babies. Less than 200 milligrams a day is considered safe, but it’s even healthier to stay away from caffeine entirely. Pregnant women should avoid tea because it’s another source of caffeine.
Drink More Fluids
The CDC suggests that pregnant women drink between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day to help their body keep up with increases in their blood volume.
Laurence Girard is a pre-med student at the Harvard University Extension School and a former semi-professional soccer player. He writes about the nutrition crisis in America on his blog at http://www.nutritionsithesolution.com.