Should you drink coffee or should you avoid it all together?
Should you steer clear of any soft cheeses or just the unpasteurized ones?
And what's the deal with deli meats?!
When you become pregnant, you have advice flying at you from all directions—from your Mom, your friends, websites, books, magazines, your boss and random people who feel the need to give you advice, even when you don't ask for it. This information overload can be daunting and a wee bit overwhelming—especially for a first-time expectant Mom.
As a Mom, I know that being pregnant is exciting but a bit nerve-racking. When I was pregnant the first time, I was confused about nutrition during pregnancy—and this is what I do!
As a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, I want to give you the best, up-to-date nutrition advice possible for your pregnancy, in a easy-to-understand way. So kick back, grab a decaf latte, and read on...
Here are my top pregnancy nutrition Dos and Don'ts:
Take a regulated pre-natal multivitamin with 0.6-1.0 mg (400-1000 mcg) of Folic Acid, 16-27 mg Iron, and less than 5000 IU's of Vitamin A everyday. If you aren't pregnant yet but are thinking about conceiving, start taking one now. This is important for your baby's normal development in utero and to keep you healthy throughout pregnancy. To ensure that your supplement is government regulated, look for an NPN or NHP number (natural products number). Consider also taking a Vitamin D supplement of 400-1000IU's per day as well as an Omega 3 fish oil supplement if you do not eat low mercury oily fish at least twice a week.
Take random isolated vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin B's, Iron, and Vitamin C unless your family Doctor has suggested it. More vitamins and minerals does not mean a healthier baby.Toxic levels of vitamins and minerals can cause harm to you and your baby.
Continue to enjoy low mercury fatty fish such as salmon, halibut, trout, mackerel and light flaked canned tuna twice a week to meet your Omega-3 requirements. Fish is a great source of protein and many other nutrients that are important throughout pregnancy.
Eat high mercury fish such as Swordfish, Marlin, or Orange roughy. Mercury acts as a neurotoxin, potentially effecting the brain and nervous system of an unborn baby. Best to avoid these fish during pregnancy.
For a single pregnancy (not twins of triplets), eat an additional 300-340 calories per day during your 2nd trimester and an extra 400-450 calories during your 3rd trimester to support your baby's growth and development if you were at a healthy weight prior to pregnancy. I encourage my clients to focus on protein-rich foods such as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, milk, and yogurt. An example of a 350 calorie snack is 3/4 cup yogurt, a handful of berries and a few nuts. Try to eat small meals and snacks every 2-3 hours to ensure optimal nutrition, and to avoid nausea and intense hunger.
Eat like you're actually eating for two. During your first trimester, you actually don't require any additional calories. After all—your baby is roughly the size of a pea. Many women mistake pregnancy for a free-for-all food fest. This can lead to excess weight gain which can be harmful to both you and your baby for many reasons. If you're unsure of what and how much to eat, speak to your doctor who can refer you to a Dietitian for guidance. Do enjoy the occasional treat like you usually do (let's be real!), but don't go overboard on junk food. It's not going to benefit you or your baby.
Stay away from alcohol, for the most part. At this point, no safe level of alcohol has been established for pregnancy, so it's probably better to err on the side of caution and avoid it all together. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause serious developmental delays in baby, has been largely linked to heavy drinking during pregnancy. That being said, there have been several studies that suggest that light, occasional drinking may not pose a risk to baby. And I would be lying if I said that I didn't have the occasional sip or even tiny glass of wine during my last pregnancy. For the most part though, I played it safe and stuck to virgin mojitos and soda, cranberry and lime, which I am recommending that you do.
Eat raw or undercooked meats, poultry, fish, shellfish or eggs. Also avoid deli meats (and meat pates) and smoked seafood unless you cook them well. When you are pregnant, your immunity to certain food-borne pathogens decreases- so you and your unborn babe are more at risk for food poisoning. Eating raw, rare, or undercooked meats or poultry can put you at risk for exposure to Toxoplasmosis as well as Salmonella. Deli meats and smoked seafoods have been known to carry Listeria, which can cause a miscarriage. If you choose to eat deli meats, make sure that you reheat them until steaming first. Smoked seafood that is canned or shelf-stable is usually safe, but refrigerated smoked seafood should be avoided unless reheated until steaming (like in a casserole). Raw or undercooked eggs should be avoided because of the risk of Salmonella poisoning. Watch out for certain Caesar salad dressings, raw cookie dough, custards and Hollandaise sauces made with raw eggs.
Enjoy your java, in moderation. Some experts say that up to 300 mg of caffeine is totally safe during pregnancy and then other experts say to avoid it all together as it increases the risk of having a miscarriage. I recommend that women limit their caffeine intake to about 200 mg per day, which is the equivalent of about one and a half 8 oz cups of coffee/day. Remember though, certain teas, soft drinks and foods also contain caffeine.
Consume unpasteurized dairy products such as unpasteurized milk or imported soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk may contain Listeria which can put you at an increased risk of miscarriage. In Canada, milk sold legally needs to be pasteurized, but it's important to read labels carefully, especially on imported soft cheeses, to make sure that the milk used has been pasteurized.
Feel free to take herbal supplements and teas that are considered safe during pregnancy, in moderation. These include Bilberry, Cranberry, Evening Primrose Oil, Gingko Biloba, Green Tea Extract, raspberry leaf and Valerian root. Herbal teas such as linden flower, citrus peel, ginger, lemon balm, orange peel, and rose hip consumed in moderation (2-3 cups per day) are deemed safe. Avoid teas that contain aloe, coltsfoot, juniper berries, pennyroyal, buckthorn bark, comfrey, labrador tea, sassafras, duck roots, lobelia and senna leaves. These are considered unsafe during pregnancy.