Pregnancy: What's Good and What to Avoid
Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts
It seems like everyone has an opinion these days. When you find yourself pregnant, one of the first things you are going to encounter is everyone telling you what to expect, what to do, what not to do, and some will even criticize you if you're doing something they disagree with. The truth is that women have been having babies since the beginning of time. Being pregnant is a time to take care of your health and pay attention to what your body needs, and generally speaking, as long as you’re not high risk and you use common sense, chances are you will be just fine. But of course, there are a few tid bits of information that you should take to heart and put into practice.
I am not a medical doctor, so it's best to always ask your doctor if the foods and activities listed in this article are safe for you.
Can You Eat Fish?
Generally speaking, fish can be safe to eat during pregnancy as long as you take a few precautions. The worry has always been that fish contains mercury, which can have an adverse effect on an unborn fetus. However, mercury is only toxic at very high levels so there is not enough mercury in one can of tuna to do any harm. The FDA now recommends pregnant women get about 2-3 servings of fish per week as it is high in omega 3 fatty acids, iron, protein, and other essential nutrients. The catch is to avoid fish that have a higher mercury content; raw fish, King Mackerel, Swordfish, Tilefish, and shark.
On the flip side, salmon, cod, shrimp, tilapia, canned tuna (light), and catfish are all fairly low in mercury, making them a safe choice for you and your unborn baby. In addition, Safe Catch is a brand that tests all of their fish for mercury content and their regulations on the fish they sell are even more stringent than what the FDA calls for.
Raw and Undercooked Meat
As a general rule, you want to avoid meat that is raw or undercooked as it can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites. It may still be safe, however, to have your steak cooked to medium, or medium well if it’s a Ribeye, Sirloin, or any other whole cut of meat. Any minced meat such as hamburger meat, pork, poultry, and fish should not be consumed raw or undercooked at all during pregnancy.
The Horror Stories of Caffeine
I guarantee you we all have that friend who will look at you as your drinking a cup of coffee while pregnant and be ready to pounce down your throat about it. The truth is that having a cup of coffee in the morning or a soda once in a while will not cause your baby harm. The worry is when you have too much caffeine it can restrict baby’s growth and cause low birth weight, or contribute to other health concerns like diabetes. The rule of thumb here is to just be smart. Don’t over do it. Energy drinks should be avoided completely during pregnancy, but the occasional cup of coffee or soda is fairly safe.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body during pregnancy. As long as you don’t have any health concerns, or your OB has told you otherwise it’s a good idea to exercise regularly throughout your pregnancy. This is another one of those common-sense concepts. If it seems too strenuous or it hurts, you probably shouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t want to start training for a marathon or begin heavy weight lifting while pregnant, but a 30-min work out session a few times a week is not only safe its recommended. Regular exercise can improve your heart health, make delivery easier, keep your weight gain at a safe level, and generally just make you feel better.
Not so Healthy Eating Choices
You see the chocolate cake at the grocery store and you want it so badly, but of course, you're pregnant and want to make healthy eating choices. Honestly, in this case, eat the cake. Don’t overdo it, of course, because your pregnant body and unborn baby need healthy foods that are full of nutrients and essential vitamins to keep you both strong and healthy. However, a piece of cake or sugary snack from time to time is perfectly ok as long as you’re not diabetic or your OB has told you to avoid these foods. The goal here again is to make smart choices and use common sense. You're working hard to eat lots of fruits, veggies, drink plenty of water, and take your vitamins. It's ok to give into those not so healthy cravings from time to time.
Vitamins, Plenty of Fluids, and Healthy Foods
During pregnancy, your body goes through all kinds of physical changes. You are literally growing another person inside of you. This time is joyous and precious, but it’s also a lot of work for your body. Your body has to supply enough nutrients to keep you healthy and create this new life. Therefore, it’s important to give your body the support and fuel it needs to do this miraculous work. Prenatal Vitamins are so important they are packed full of the essentials you need for your body and baby. It may be hard to swallow that horse pill every day but it’s so important especially in the first trimester when the baby is going through her rapid development of growth. These vitamins are also essential for you, your body is going to work overtime giving the baby what she needs to grow. This means that you can be left depleted of essential vitamins that you need to stay healthy. Prenatal vitamins, calcium supplements, and other vitamins like Omega-3 can replenish these lost essentials and keep you strong. Drinking plenty of fluids is also so important during this precious time.
Water is fuel your body cannot survive without and when your dehydrated or just not getting enough fluids your body can not function properly. During pregnancy getting enough fluids is even more important as dehydration can actually lead to preterm labor, getting overheated, headaches, nausea, and cramps.
Making healthy eating choices is another big one. Remember that although it's important to eat healthy all the time, during pregnancy your body needs even more essential nutrients to keep you and baby healthy. If you’re constantly filling up on junk foods or over-processed foods, you’re probably not giving your body what it needs. There is no need to go overboard counting calories or avoiding foods that you love, but as a general rule just make healthy decisions. Give your body plenty of fruits, veggies, and proteins. Try substituting fried meats with oven baked or roasted options. Skip the bag of chips as a snack and instead substitute with an apple or banana. Like I said you don’t have to go overboard just use some common sense. A good practice may be the 80/20 rule; eat healthy 80% of the time and let yourself indulge the other 20%
Listen to Your Doctor
Pregnancy is a miraculous time, and although everyone has an opinion about how you should care for your body and baby during this time, the most important thing you can do is follow your doctor’s advice. There is no advice or substitute for proper medical care. Keep your prenatal appointments and use your doctor as a resource. Your care provider can help you avoid the dangers and give you the tools necessary to bring your baby into this world healthy
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.