Tag: Pregnancy

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Top 11 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

With the Internet, your friends, and family all saying different things, it can be a little confusing what foods are safe to consume during pregnancy and which foods you should no-way-under-any-circumstances eat. Don’t worry – we’ve got you!

Here is a list of what you should not eat during pregnancy, why they can be harmful, and some alternatives to help you avoid them entirely.

1) Raw Meat

Rare or undercooked beef or poultry can affect you and your baby with coliform bacteria, parasites, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. 

Meats are a little tricky because there are so many different ways you can cook them. Your best bet, when cooking and eating meat, is to check the internal temperature based on this chart:

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

2) Fish High in Mercury

Fish containing high levels of mercury have been linked to developmental delays and brain damage when consumed during pregnancy. You should avoid albacore tuna (most commonly used to make canned tuna) and certain types of fish used in sushi due to high levels of mercury.

A little bit won’t hurt, but for the most part, you should avoid high mercury intake or it could have serious effects on your and your baby’s immune and nervous systems. 

3) Raw and Smoked Fish

Just like raw meat, raw and smoked fish (including shellfish: oysters, clams, and mussels) run the risk of being contaminated with bacteria and parasites, the most common of which is listeria. 

Pregnancy makes you 20 times more likely to be infected by listeria because pregnant individuals have a naturally depressed cell-mediated immune system. Listeria can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health issues. 

If you’re a sushi lover, you should avoid it during your pregnancy as even the highest quality sushi can be dangerous to yours and your baby’s health. If you are absolutely craving sushi, go for the rolls made of cooked shrimp, salmon, and crab and you’ll find that they satisfy your craving just as much.

4) Pre-packaged Deli and Canned Meat

These have also been linked to listeria, which can lead to infection or blood poisoning and can be seriously life-threatening. 

Because the food generally is exposed to bacteria during the processing and storing time, canned or deli meats are ok to eat if you reheat them until they are steaming. But if not, fresh meat is just a safer option.

5) Raw Eggs 

Due to potential exposure to salmonella, raw eggs or foods containing them should not be consumed. 

That includes homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream, Hollandaise sauces, and yes even that raw cookie dough that is so tempting when you’re baking, no matter how good it looks. 

Commercially manufactured ice creams, dressings, and eggnog generally use pasteurized eggs, which don’t carry the risk of salmonella, so those are your best bet during your pregnancy.

6) Unpasteurized Milk

While you may be under the impression that raw milk has health benefits that pasteurized milk doesn’t offer, you’re exposing yourself and your baby to harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. 

Pasteurized milk is an easy alternative.

7) Unpasteurized Juice

Same applies as above but maybe you’re just unsure what qualifies as “unpasteurized juice.” Fresh cider from a farm or freshly squeezed juices, as delicious and fresh as you think they may taste, can also contain harmful bacteria.

8) Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses are often made with unpasteurized milk, so again they can contain bacteria, specifically listeria. Most imported soft cheeses are made this way including Brie, Bleu, Feta, Camembert, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Mexican cheeses like queso blanco. 

Soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk do exist and can be consumed while you’re pregnant, so just check the ingredients list.

9) Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a balanced diet but, it is also essential that they are thoroughly washed to avoid potential exposure to Toxoplasma. This is a bacteria derived from contaminated soil where the foods were grown and can leave your baby with brain damage or blindness. 

10) Excess Caffeine

While studies seem to show varying results as to whether or not caffeine intake in moderation during pregnancy is permissible, we say err on the side of caution. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises pregnant women to limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams per day (about an 11-ounce cup of coffee). Caffeine has been related to miscarriages so it should not be consumed excessively, particularly during the first trimester. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it eliminates fluids (water and calcium) from your body, fluids that are essential to a healthy baby’s growth. 

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, pasteurized juices, and milk. 

11) Alcohol

While studies have shown different results for caffeine, not a single one has shown that any amount of alcohol consumption, no matter how minimal, is safe during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can interfere with the healthy development of your baby and lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other developmental disorders. 

If you consumed alcohol before knowing you were pregnant, stop drinking now and continue through breastfeeding. Exposure to alcohol in any capacity can be harmful to an infant and yes, it can reach them through breastfeeding.

Conceive

Ready to Conceive? You Should Do These Things First

If you’re ready to have a baby, there are some things beyond the birds-and-bees basics that you learned in a middle school biology class that you should know before trying to conceive. While you don’t have to meticulously plan every detail of motherhood, there are ways you can adjust your lifestyle that will enhance your fertility. So if you’re ready to conceive, you should do these things first. 

Track Your Cycle

The best time to conceive is right around ovulation so it’s important to know when you’re ovulating. Ovulation normally happens about midway through your cycle, about 11-14 days after the first day of your menstrual period. But because menstrual cycles can vary so extensively from person to person, it’s a good idea to track your cycle for several months, keeping track of when you start your period, how long it lasts, and when you are ovulating. Your most fertile days are the two or three before and after actual ovulation, so plan to have intercourse multiple times during that time window. 

Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins

Studies have shown that taking a multivitamin with folic acid – an active ingredient in prenatal vitamins – dramatically lowers the risk of birth defects and helps the body to produce healthy new cells. This vitamin can’t be stored in your body which is why we recommend that women who are ready to conceive should take a multivitamin fortified with folic acid ideally three months before you conceive. 

If You Smoke, Quit Now

Smoking during pregnancy is a huge no-no as it can have serious negative consequences for the fetus, so it pays to quit before you even reach that stage. There is a direct correlation between smoking and reduced fertility so smoking can affect both your ability to get and stay pregnant. But we bear some good news: this mostly affects current smokers rather than those who have quit. Determine that you’ll quit now and if you feel it’ll help, talk to a provider about how to do it effectively. 

Watch Your Weight

Being over or underweight can affect your hormones and, as a result, throw off your menstrual cycle and fertility. When you’re trying to conceive, one of the most important things you can do is try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight, which includes an optimal BMI of 19 to 25. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 12% of all infertility cases are the result of “deviations in body weight from the established norm.” Women who are underweight may lose their menstrual cycles or have irregular ovulation, making it difficult to know when you’re most fertile or ovulating.

Reduce Stress

Stress is inevitable during this time; even just the stress of trying to have a baby can put stress on your body and make it difficult to conceive. Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, which can impact many of the body’s systems and interfere with a normal hormone balance. 

If you are someone who finds it difficult to relax, strive to make it more than a bullet on your to-do list. Create a routine around taking time to de-stress and relax, something that works for you and can look different from another woman’s routine. This might include regular exercise that aids in stress reduction like meditation, yoga, pilates, deep breathing, creating a more consistent sleep schedule, or eating healthy foods that you take the time to cook yourself.

pregnancy do’s and don’ts

The Do’s and Don’ts of Pregnancy

How much coffee can I drink while I’m pregnant? Can I continue my after-workout routine of sweating all the toxins out in a sauna? Is it unsafe to clean up after my cat? Then what about my dog? Chances are, since finding out you’re pregnant, you’ve had a lot of questions about what you can and can’t do and you’ve probably received a lot of well-meaning albeit unwarranted advice from outside sources. So what are the true pregnancy do’s and don’ts that are important for you to follow in order to maintain yours and your baby’s health? Well, we’ve got you covered.

Do

Take prenatal multivitamins

During your pregnancy, you’ll require more vitamins and minerals than before you were pregnant. Folic acid and zinc are just two examples of the vitamins you’ll need so you should start taking prenatal vitamins which help to lower the risk of neural birth defects once you find out you’re pregnant. 

Get ample sleep

There are a lot of factors at play during pregnancy that could negatively affect your sleep schedule: there’s not only the changing hormone levels but also the anxiety and anticipation. Sleep is especially necessary during the demanding throes of the final trimester so you should schedule naps whenever you have the time, set bedtimes, and stick to them. Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to fend off the feelings of fatigue that are practically inevitable. 

Work out

Exercise is good for both mama and baby and can be used to combat problems that tend to arise during pregnancy like excessive weight gain, insomnia, mood swings, and muscle pain. Speak with your doctor about making adjustments to your workout routine if you regularly exercised before you became pregnant. This is especially important as you move into the second and third trimesters. 

If exercise was not a part of your regular routine before pregnancy, ask your doctor about incorporating it into your routine now. They can help you develop an exercise plan that’s safe and comfortable for you and your developing baby. 

Yoga is a great exercise when you’re expecting – excluding hot yoga or Bikram. Look for prenatal or gentle yoga classes as they are specifically designed for expecting mothers and the instructors will know which poses are best for your condition. 

Monitor weight gain

The old adage that you are eating for two is not just an excuse for expecting mothers to eat absolute junk for the entirety of her pregnancy. You should be strategic about what you’re putting in your body and how much you’re consuming. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can actually harm your baby.

You may be surprised to find out that during your first trimester, you only need to consume about 100 extra calories a day to support the growing baby. By your third trimester, that number jumps to about 300 extra calories per day. 

Watch what you eat

There are lots of foods out there that are not safe to eat during pregnancy: raw and undercooked meat and eggs, seafood containing high levels of mercury, unpasteurized milk and cheese, and deli meats. For a complete list of what to eat during pregnancy and what to avoid check out our article here.

Avoid harmful fumes

We know you may have been looking forward to painting your nursery since you found out you were pregnant but the chemicals and solvents in paint can be toxic and harmful to you and your baby. If you want to paint the nursery, you should use natural or organic paints. 

Don’t

Smoke

Smoke, even breathed in secondhand, is linked to many complications such as miscarriage, cancer, premature delivery, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, or developmental issues as the baby grows up. Contact with tobacco should be avoided at all costs.

Drink Alcohol

No amount of alcohol is safe for consumption during pregnancy as it can result in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and symptoms like learning disabilities, lagging development, low birth weight, and behavioral problems. 

If you are struggling to quit drinking alcohol while you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor immediately. The sooner you seek help, the healthier your baby is likely to be. 

Sit in a hot tub or sauna

The high temperatures in hot tubs and saunas can be dangerous to an expecting mother as sitting in them can raise the body temperature, causing problems that can increase the risk of birth defects or miscarriage, particularly during the first trimester. 

Drink lots of caffeine

Different sources will recommend different amounts of coffee consumption during pregnancy, but we say err on the side of caution. One cup a day is a safe amount to consume. 

Clean the cat’s litter box

You might be surprised to hear that this is a don’t during pregnancy but feline waste is filled with millions of parasites and bacteria that can cause toxoplasmosis and severely harm your baby. If you come into contact with it, you might not even know until you have complications with your pregnancy that could potentially include a miscarriage or stillbirth. You can pet your furry friend all you like, washing your hands afterward, but stay away from its litter box. 

If you’re searching for an effective alternative, there are self-cleaning litter boxes on the market. 

Use products that let off electromagnetic radiation

This may be one you haven’t heard of often but there are plenty of products that emit harmful electromagnetic radiation that can harm the fetus and lead to miscarriages. This includes microwaves, electric blankets, waterbeds, and X-rays, particularly in the abdominal area.

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