Nearly everything changes when you’re pregnant—your body balloons, your skin expands, your moods and attitudes shift here and there, your sense of smell turns upside down, and even your eating habit or food choices change, too. But among all these changes, food choices make a crucial issue for expectant mothers.
Meat and seafood
“There is really no reason to avoid poultry, beef, pork, fish, or any other seafood—except when you have allergies to certain kinds and there is contraindication,” says Dr. Aurora Lopez-Valdez, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist at Bethany Hospital in San Fernando City, La Union. “For instance,” she says, “poultry is still a good source of protein for pregnant women, so it’s not advisable to abstain from it.”
An article on Today Health also mentions that fats found in fish are important aid in the development of brain and vision of your baby. Fish fats are called omega-3 fats. In some cases, however, because of the presence of mercury in fish, pregnant women have been advised to take only moderate amounts of fish. Mercury, found in fishes like king mackerel, swordfish, and shark, is a toxic metal said to cause some serious damage in our nervous system.
Lopez-Valdez stresses that most of these foods are generally okay to eat, but warns that there may be exceptions on a case-to-case basis. The condition of the patient has to be taken into consideration and properly diagnosed by a doctor.
What about when meat and seafood is served raw, as with sushi and kinilaw? “That’s ok, just make sure that it’s fresh.”
Canned goods and frozen foods
There’s has been much talk about canned goods and frozen foods not being healthy. Lopez-Valdez gives us the facts: canned food is high in preservatives, sodium, and sugar, so they must be completely avoided. “As much as possible, go for natural and fresh food choices if you have access to it.” A similar advice has been echoed on Today Health, saying that expectant mothers should focus on “real foods” such as fruits, whole grains, legumes, non-fat milk, and vegetables, among others.
Click here to read more.
Chips, beverages and chocolate
It’s inevitable—chips and beverages are almost always present in most households, whether taken as afternoon snacks, out of boredom, or just to kill time in front of the computer or TV set. Lopez-Valdez, however, warns against splurging on such unhealthy munchies. “Even if you’re not pregnant, this type of food is not healthy, again because of its high sodium content.” Hence, she suggests going easy on chips and chocolates, and opting for sliced fruits instead, like turnip, banana, pineapples or camote instead to curb the craving.
As for beverages, Lopez-Valdez recommends skipping on drinks that contain caffeine, like soda, tea, coffee, and even artificially sweetened fruit juices as much as possible. Needless to say, alcoholic beverages are a no-no, as these bring permanent birth defects. “ If you can, go for freshly squeezed fruit juices…Expensive nga lang!” Having a bottle of water with you always during pregnancy is essential, as this “prevents constipation and provides for the expanding blood volume that carries oxygen and nutrients to both the mother and the baby.”
And what’s the simplest way to avoid these unhealthy temptations of chips and beverages? “Don’t stock!”
But the iron we get from regular food, no matter how much we eat, remains insufficient, admits Lopez-Valdez. “It’s still deficient in iron, and this is the reason why many Filipinos are suffering from iron-deficiency anemia.” Among the possible effects of iron-deficiency anemia in pregnant women are infant mortality, low birth weight, and preterm delivery.
She explains another consequence of iron deficiency among pregnant women: “There is too much bleeding when giving birth, which can aggravate anemia, so how then can a mother properly nurse or breastfeed her child when she is suffering from such condition?” An iron-deficient mother may also need to undergo blood transfusion and could suffer other related problems along the way.
To avoid iron deficiency, Lopez-Valdez advises pregnant women to take multivitamin supplements, especially ones rich in ferrous sulfate as prescribed by their doctors. Try to get a dose of iron, too, from other sources, such as liver, red meat, and green, leafy vegetables.
On top of all this, Lopez-Valdez recommends, “Always go for natural sources.”
Indeed, when you’re expecting, your food choices should take into consideration the new life you carry inside your womb. Your health will impact your baby’s, so it’s best not to take chances.
Photo from sxc.hu