Pregnancy and confinement | What to Eat and What to Avoid During Pregnancy
Congratulations! You’re entering a new phase in your life – be it your first or even third time. Eating healthy during your pregnancy is important for you and your baby, and while variety is the spice of life, some foods should be avoided to prevent complications and others should be increased!
Fruits and Vegetables
Choose a variety of different types and colours – from dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale to bright red peppers and beets.
Have at least five portions of fruit and vegetable daily to get the vitamins and nutrients that are much needed by your developing baby and yourself. Fibre will help to prevent constipation and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes during your pregnancy. It is ideal to have a low-calorie diet to maintain a healthy weight gain; as a gauge, you will need about 300 extra healthy calories per day whilst pregnant.
Avoid raw or undercooked sprouts like alfalfa, radish and mung bean. If you are going to consume them, ensure that you wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove any harmful pesticides and parasites, especially when eating them raw (such as in salads) so that you can prevent food poisoning.
Avoid the consumption of unripe papaya, which may trigger uterine contractions. Always choose ripe papayas as this is a great source of Vitamin C and will help to prevent constipation. Papaya is also a good choice to consume during confinement as it promotes lactation.
Avoid excessive quantities of pineapple, especially during the first trimester, as this can potentially cause the softening of the cervix, leading to an early labour.
Avoid soft cheeses, such as Brie, Feta, Camembert, Roquefort, Queso Blanco and Queso Fesco as they may contain E. coli or Listeria infection. Opt for hard cheese instead, such as Cheddar or Swiss. Alternatively, check the labels of the product and make sure that the cheese is made from pasteurised milk. Drink only pasteurised milk for calcium and proteins and the recommended intake is 3 cups of milk or dairy products daily.
Avoid fish with high levels of mercury, such as Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel and Tilefish (golden or white Snapper) as it may lead to brain damage and developmental delays in your baby.
Always eat fully cooked fish and seafood to ensure that parasites and bacteria are killed. Do not eat raw or undercooked fish such as in sushi and sashimi and raw seafood like oysters and clams. Smoked fish and seafood should be reheated to destroy the Listeria bacteria before consumption.
Do eat up to 350 grams of fish and shellfish a week that are lower in mercury, such as Shrimp, Salmon, Pollock and Catfish. The high quality protein and Omega3 fatty acids are good for your baby’s development and may also help boost your mood.
Meat and Poultry
Reheat precooked meat such as sausages, luncheon meats, cold cuts and deli cut meats and poultry to a steaming hot level to destroy Listeria bacteria as well. Eat only fully cooked poultry and meats such as beef, lamb and pork to prevent E. coli and Salmonella.
Only consume eggs that have been cooked until the yolks are firm. When eaten raw, runny or undercooked, the Salmonella bacteria in eggs may cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Thus, desserts such as mousse, tiramisu and meringue, as well as sauces like mayonnaise that are made with raw eggs must be avoided. Choose salad dressing and sauces like Hollandaise that is made with pasteurised eggs instead.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Limit your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day (this is equal to about 1 cup of coffee if purchased from cafes). Do keep in mind that other drinks such as tea, soft drinks and energy drinks contain caffeine as well. Avoid alcohol to prevent miscarriages and premature births. If you do decide to drink alcohol, consume only up to one or two drinks once or twice a week, and only after your first trimester.
Remember, everyone woman is different, and it is very important to check with your doctor and follow his or her recommendations!