Your diet in pregnancy lays down the foundation stones for your baby’s health and wellbeing in future. Research shows that babies who are born healthy and at full term remain healthier throughout their lives. They are better equip to face the infections and illnesses of childhood . A balanced diet rich in all the necessary proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins & minerals is important. But the benefits of a balanced diet can be undone to a significant extent. If you’re eating/ consuming certain dietary items that can harm you or your baby. As important it’s to know what to eat during pregnancy, it’s equally important to know foods to avoid during pregnancy .
The Various Items That You Need To Restrict Or The Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy Include :
Alcohol increases the risks of miscarriage & stillbirth in pregnancy. Excess alcohol intake can also lead to a serious condition called ‘ Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’ in the baby which can associate with cranial and facial deformities, other birth defects & mental retardation in the baby. Children born to mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy may suffer from behavioural problems and developmental delays. The adverse effects of alcohol can be seen to increase in a dose dependant manner & it is better to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy & breastfeeding.
Cigarette smoke releases about 4000 harmful chemicals into your body. These include lead, cyanide, nicotine, carbon mono oxide and many carcinogenic (Cancer-producing) compounds. These are responsible for some really harmful effects on the baby & may result in early or late pregnancy losses, fetal growth restriction & low birth-weight babies . Children born to women who smoke have been known to suffer from asthma, respiratory problems, colic , childhood obesity, poor developmental outcomes & behavioural disorders later on in life. Hence avoid both passive , as well as active smoking in pregnancy.
Fish High In Mercury Content
Seafood can serve as a good source of protein , long chain Omega-3 fatty acids , & vitamin A,D and B12; but during pregnancy avoid certain fish like Shark, Swordfish, Mackerel, Tilefish etc. These can be very high in Mercury content and should be . High mercury content can be harmful for the nerve development of the baby & hence it is better to stick to fresh water fish like Salmon, Tuna, Marlin, Catfish, Trout etc. during pregnancy. Experts advise to consume not more than 2 servings / week of fish during pregnancy.
Excess Of Caffeine / Caffeinated Drinks
While drinking 2-3 small cups of mild tea or 1-2 cups of mild coffee in a day are acceptable. Studies recommend that it is best to restrict the daily intake of caffeine to less than 200mg/day in pregnancy. Pregnant women’s bodies metabolise caffeine at slower rate than non-pregnant women and caffeine transferres across the placenta to the fetus. High amount of caffeine is consumption during pregnancy can cause adverse effects. Excess caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery & low birthweight apart from causing palpitations, increased blood pressure. Hence it is better to restrict caffeine intake. Consume only modest amounts of coffee, tea, cola drinks or dark chocolates containing caffeine in pregnancy. It is better still to switch over to decaffeinated versions of the above during pregnancy.
Unpasteurised Milk & Milk Products
Unpasteurised milk or milk products can increase the risk of Salmonella & other bacterial/viral infections & is one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy. It is best to use pasteurised milk or boil your milk properly before you consume it.
Raw / Partially Cooked Eggs, Poultry / Meat / Seafood
Proper cooking destroys any harmful bacteria or infective agents in the food items & hence it is imperative that you should properly wash & cook before you eat any poultry/ seafood/ meat products that you consume during pregnancy . Gastro-intestinal infections can be quite difficult to deal with & may involve the use of a number of medications for treatment which are best to avoid in pregnancy.
Wet Cheese / Brei / Blue Veined Cheese
Soft cheese or mould ripened cheese such as Brei/Camembert/ blue veined cheese, increase the risk of Listeria infections & constitute to the foods to avoid during pregnancy. Listeriosis is a Flu-like illness which can transmit to the fetus and can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. Hard cheese, such as Cheddar cheese, goat cheese etc are safe. You can consume them fresh or if they are stored well in the refrigerator.
Apart from the above foods to avoid during pregnancy , it is quite safe to consume healthy, home-cooked, hygienic food in pregnancy which you can modify according to your taste & appetite. Maintaining general hygiene while cooking , washing the fruits & vegetables properly, keeping the utensils & kitchen surfaces clean washing your hands before cooking & eating can reduce your risks of infections to a large extent & ensure that you receive good nutrition in a healthy manner.
Remember that it is better to take frequent , small meals. Take about 6 small meals during the day rather than sticking to 3 large meals. Your baby needs a regular supply of nutrients for proper growth & development which is best to provide by frequent, small meals . Regular meals during the day also help in maintaining your energy levels and stamina throughout the day. For any specific queries regarding your diet in pregnancy, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider with your personal details.
The Author, Dr. Smita Vats is practising as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Laparoscopic Surgeon in Gurgaon. She is one of the Best Gynaecologist in Gurgaon and a visiting consultant at various esteemed Hospitals in Gurgaon including Artemis Hospital, Cloud nine Hospital, Paras Hospital & GNH Hospital Gurgaon.
Dr. Smita Vats can be consulted at :
The Gynae Point : D- 103 , First Floor, Rodeo Drive Mall, South City 2, Sec – 49, Gurgaon
For Appointments call 09871076006