We’re back with our two-part series on pregnancy rules. Yes, there are rules to just about everything in life, including pregnancy. Today we’re taking a look at what you should and should not eat, drink and otherwise consume during pregnancy. For better or worse, everything you consume will have an affect on your baby. As his only portal for sustenance, maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding potentially harmful substances is essential for a healthy baby.
Do take a prenatal vitamin. In one little capsule, or gummy if you prefer, you can get most of your recommended daily allowance of tons of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients for you and your baby. Prenatal vitamins should contain folic acid, DHA, iron and calcium. If yours does not, consider taking additional supplements to ensure you’re getting enough of these crucial nutrients.
Don’t take prescription or OTC drugs without a doctor’s consent. Especially during the first trimester as your baby’s heart, lungs and brain cells are forming vital organs, avoid taking any unnecessary medications. Your doctor can advise you on which meds are safe during pregnancy and alternatives should you not be able to take what you need.
Do eat lots of protein. Protein is required for the cellular development of your baby and it will keep you strong and energized as well. Pregnant women should consume 75 to 100 grams of protein daily. But hold off on processed and packaged meats as they can contain bacteria called listeria, which can cause food poisoning.
Don’t eat too many processed foods. As pregnancy progresses, your stomach will get smaller and you’ll be eating less food. If you fill up on junk food that lacks nutrients, you won’t have room for the healthy foods your baby needs. Plus, processed sugars lead to excessive weight gain, which is unhealthy for you and baby.
Do eat enough healthy fats. Fats, especially essential fatty-acids like Omega-3s, are important for your baby’s developing brain. Also, fat helps the body absorb fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, K and D, and also helps the skin stretch smoothly. Two tablespoons of fat per day are recommended during pregnancy.
Don’t eat certain types of fish with high mercury content. Swordfish, tilefish, mackerel, tuna and shark are among the fish with the most mercury. Avoid these fish or eat them in moderation. Chunk light tuna or salmon are safer alternatives if you’re craving fish. Of course, do not consume raw fish, like that found in sushi and shashimi.
Do get 4-7 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Along with your prenatal vitamins, be sure to eat plenty of nutrient-dense fruits and veggies. These have tons of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, which will keep your body running smoothly and your baby developing properly.
Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or take illegal drugs. These vices are directly related to birth defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, retardation, premature birth, low-birth weight and many other serious diseases and conditions that stem from unhealthy exposure in the womb. Even second-hand smoke can cause many of these problems.
Do drink plenty of water. It’s important to stay hydrated during pregnancy and pregnant women typically need more water than most people. Dehydration can lead to preterm labor and may exacerbate many pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, edema, headaches and cramps.
Don’t over-do it on caffeine. Most OBs consider one 12-oz. serving of coffee or caffeinated tea a day acceptable during pregnancy. But excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to over-stimulation of the baby and is associated with diseases like diabetes. Keep in mind that foods such as chocolate also contain caffeine.