Pregnancy is that time where you start researching your do’s & don’ts. You would have heard stuff from everyone around from your family to friends to the medical professionals. It can be confusing at times. However, here are 15 ways we have found to avoid putting your unborn at risk.
Do not eat those eggs sunny-side up
Like you are advised not to eat raw meat during pregnancy, it is also best to avoid uncooked eggs (any kind be it chicken, quail or duck) due to the presence of salmonella in it. It doesn’t necessarily affect the baby directly but could cause you food poisoning which could impact the baby’s health.
No bacon for breakfast
Nitrates present in food as preservatives in processed meats (like sausages & bacon) can be dangerous to the unborn. Research suggests that Nitrates get converted into nitrosamines in the body & are carcinogenically linked to the development of childhood cancer. So, is the risk with tap water for nitrates! The safe option is to drink filtered or bottled water.
Washing the fruits & vegetables properly
Bacteria like Listeria & parasite like Toxoplasma live on the skin of fruits & vegetables. Thus it is important to wash them. More importantly, on washing them the pesticides sprayed on will be removed. It is also said to avoid raw sprouts too as one can’t be sure if all the bacteria are washed from the fold in sprout. But cooked ones are fine. Similarly be sure the juice you consume is made of boiled water to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria that could cross the placenta & cause miscarriage in some cases.
Play safe with herbals
Many herbal products can be potentially dangerous in pregnancy like causing blood thinning effect, labor-inducing effect (like raspberry leaf, jasmine & clary sage), causing birth defect (aloe vera & autumn crocus) or causing cramps/nausea or interfering with potassium absorption (as potassium is important for muscle development). Hence it is very essential to be safe with herbals before using. Do take advice from expert professionals.
Cut down coffee
Excessive caffeine is linked with miscarriage & low birth weight. Anything excess of 200 mg per day is considered to be harmful. Not just normal coffee & tea, do watch out for those cola drinks, chocolate & high energy drinks & some over the counter medicines too! Caffeine could induce increased breathing & heart rate if it passes through your placenta to the fetus.
Glycyrrhetinic acid in the root of licorice plant has been linked with low birth weight & premature birth. When consumed in large amounts, it is linked to abnormalities & behavioral issues, lower IQ, increased levels of hyperactivity & bad memory in children. Glycyrrhetinic acid apparently changes the permeability to allow hormone cortisol to pass more easily to the fetus. Cortisol, by the way, is the stress hormone. The healthy level of consumption is 250mg per week in pregnancy. So next time when you buy packed food watch out for those labels as glycyrrhetinic acid is also used as a natural sweetener.
Do not ignore the physical warning signs
Always be cautious of your body and try to listen to what your body tells you. Symptoms like less kicking of the baby, abdominal cramps, painful urination, sudden or abnormal swellings, any headaches or visual disturbances, needs immediate medical attention.
This is the worst one can do to themselves. You never know the side-effects of a drug. Risks could involve negatively on the baby development, restricted oxygen supply to the fetus. A major risk is a placental abruption, which is highly dangerous to both the mother & baby. Prescription drugs like opiates (which is commonly used for pain relief) can also cause miscarriage. It is therefore very important to let your doctor know about your pregnancy. So, overall it is highly recommended to avoid medications unless serious health issue.
Choose your fish safely
Some seafood contains high levels of mercury which is in high levels can affect the development of the brain. Fishes like swordfish, shark & mackerel ingest mercury. Consume fishes like salmon, sardines & tuna & stick to 2 portions per week as fish is also a good source of omega 3 & fatty acids that are essential for brain development. Make sure you cook the fish well. Stay away from uncooked fish or shellfish or sushi. Sometimes toxins in shellfish remain even after cooking so better to avoid them. Cod, haddock, and hake, as long as cooked well are a safe alternative to shellfish and oily fish.
Be punctual with the routine check-ups
Never skip a routine checkup as it helps to keep a track record of your baby’s health. Antenatal checks can also scan for potential abnormalities in the fetus. Also, your medical history will be recorded in order to keep your safe. Discussion of birthing choices & antenatal advice is essential in these checks. Other important factors to check our blood pressure & urine tests.
Control your sweet tooth
Modern diet in the western world contains a lot more sugar than needed for the body. This leads to long-term health issues in both the mother & the baby. Mothers consuming too much sugar during pregnancy are at high risk of gestational diabetes which in turn can lead to premature birth or stillbirth.
Say NO to alcohol
Drinking alcohol in pregnancy is highly dangerous & toxic leading to a condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which causes serious developmental defects in the fetus affecting the formation of vital organs.
Nicotine, carbon monoxide & other harmful substances in a cigarette can be fatal to your fetus causing stillbirth or miscarriage. Even passive smoking could harm the baby’s lungs. Seek medical help to quit smoking if need be.
Cut the junk down
Mother’s choice of food during pregnancy especially in the third month (as the taste bud develops around this time) could influence the baby’s choice of food in later life. Additionally, heavy weight gain in pregnancy affects the mother’s health leading to high blood pressure or gestational diabetes which again holds the risk of premature birth or stillbirth. Saturated fat, sugars & salt are unhealthy for both the mother & fetus. Make sure you have a healthy balanced diet with a good amount of proteins for a healthy development of the baby.
Take good care of yourself
Do not neglect your pregnant body. Morning sickness could make you low but stay strong there. Get pampered. Have a warm bath. Go in for a massage & stay relaxed to get away with sickness. Plus rest, rest and rest as much as possible. Stay fit by doing gentle exercises such as swimming, walking and participating in antenatal exercises. These help you to keep up with your energy levels, cope up with your mood swings, maintain ideal weight and improving oxygen level to both you and your baby within. Once you are done with morning sickness, focus on healthy eating. Get a good balanced nutritious diet every single day for the next six months. Drinking plenty of water to keep up with the fluid levels in the body, to keep yourself & the baby hydrated & also to avoid fatigue.