Although often it is said that the expectant mother is ‘eating for two’, she really doesn’t have to eat that much more than usual. Certainly she shouldn’t feel as if she has to eat for two, otherwise she’d probably end up with a weight problem both during and after the pregnancy. Basically, the developing baby will take what food it needs, and the mother will only suffer if she is eating too little.
So how can you keep you, your baby and your diet healthy during pregnancy? Firstly and very importantly, avoid the use of drugs such as cannabis, LSD, ecstasy, crack, cocaine. Even the fumes
from some solvents and glues. Otherwise, these may cross the placenta and cause harm to the baby.
Alcohol is also like a drug. Of course, the occasional drink shouldn’t harm the developing baby but regular drinking (even of moderate amounts of alcohol) could interfere with the baby’s growth. Since we’re on the subject of things to avoid, could I also remind you that smoking can also be harmful to the unborn
Continuing, however, on the subject of diet and what the mother eats is very important. Her diet should contain extra protein, vitamins and in particular folic acid. This is one of the B vitamins and it helps the baby’s early development. It also helps to prevent defects such as spina bifida. The expectant mother’s diet should also include minerals for the baby and some extra fibre: This, to help prevent constipation.
What she does NOT need, is extra carbohydrates or fat. Not only this but fried foods and spicy foods should be avoided if they lead to indigestion. Now the other types of food to avoid are ones which might cause Listeriosis. This is a relatively rare disease which, in its mild form, resembles influenza. It is caused by a species of bacteria which grows in certain foods at normal refrigerator temperatures. But even a mild attack of listeriosis in pregnancy can cause problems. Pregnant women should therefore avoid: soft cheeses, pate and meat which is not cooked thoroughly, particularly chicken.
Vitamin A is also advisable, especially in liver and liver products. The reason for this is that this vitamin is needed for the correct development of cells. While folic acid, as mentioned above, is important in both pre-conception and early pregnancy.
What else should you be eating during your pregnancy for your own health and your baby’s health?
As well as the above suggestions, you should be eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. These help to provide the vitamins and minerals you need, as well as the fibre which aids the digestion. Frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are good too.