The beauty of creating life and the exciting journey to birth are only glimmers of what pregnancy entails.
There are lots of benefits to being pregnant! Experiencing a healthy glow, increased health, better sex drive, heightened self-confidence, and more.
In addition to the benefits, the gift of new life can also bring up important responsibilities and concerns. In order to ensure a smooth and healthy pregnancy, there are many important steps and precautions.
One of the most important of these pregnancy necessities is maintaining an appropriate diet.
There are many changes that the body experiences throughout pregnancy, and food acts as the fuel to keep the mother and baby on course.
- How our Bodies Change During Pregnancy
- Why The Food You Eat Matters During Pregnancy
- Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy
- Eat Healthy Foods
How our Bodies Change During Pregnancy
As your baby grows and changes in your womb, you’ll find lots of other changes happening in your body too.
The major changes we see in a pregnant body can be divided into systems of the body including respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, urinary, dermal, musculoskeletal, and more.
With the body working harder than usual, pregnant women use more oxygen. Increased respiratory rate, shortness of breath, and other conditions can arise.
A pregnant body actually changes its cardiovascular system, growing more blood vessels and slowed rate of blood return to the heart. This can result in blood pressure and heart rate concerns.
With the uterus growing larger, the stomach, intestines, and surrounding organs are displaced from their normal place. This can cause issues like reflux, constipation, and heartburn.
Pregnancy sends the endocrine system into overhaul, kind of on a rollercoaster of changes throughout gestation. Increases in estrogen and progesterone can result in hot flashes, production of breast milk, inducing of labor, and more.
With an enlarged uterus, there is greater pressure on the components of the urinary track (bladder, urethra, etc.). This can result in some bladder control difficulties.
Stretch marks, changes in pigment, spider veins, and reddening palms are some of the dermal systems concerns during pregnancy. Increased estrogen and the growing body are the onsets.
With the spinal curvature of the growing, pregnant body, there are many posture changes. The body’s muscles begin to grow limber and ready for labor.
Pregnancy is a unique experience with endless possibilities. Other changes you may experience include changes in your breasts, hair, nails, weight, cramps, and more.
Why The Food You Eat Matters During Pregnancy
Each of these areas of concern can be bettered through proper diet. One of the key elements of a healthy pregnancy is proper nutrition.
Nutrients fortify all parts of the body and support internal functions that are much more important when new life is growing inside it.
Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, there are foods we want to avoid, as these can cause complications and pose risks for the pregnant mom and the baby growing inside of her. Check with your doctor before starting any new diet plan.
Seafoods High in Mercury
Typically larger fish tend to be high in mercury. Fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish all have larger amounts of mercury than other fish and could be harmful to your baby.
This doesn’t mean you have to avoid seafood all together. But avoid raw seafood, and try to eat smaller fish that will be less likely contain mercury.
Risk: Vision, hearing and brain damage.
Raw or Undercooked Seafood, Meat, Poultry and Eggs
Raw oysters, poached eggs, sushi, undercooked steak could be contaminated with salmonella. This includes raw batters, cookie dough and even fresh mayonnaise all made with raw eggs.
Risk: Coliform, toxoplasmosis, salmonella, and other bacterial contaminations dangerous to baby
Foods like raw milk, soft cheeses, imported dairy this includes Brie, feta Camembert, Roquefort, Queso Blanco & Fresco
Risk: Could contain Listeria
Limit your caffeine intake. Some caffeine is okay, but too much can cause problems. According to American Pregnancy
“Experts have stated that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy. The definition of moderate varies anywhere from 150 mg – 300 mg a day. The APA suggests to avoid caffeine as much as possible during pregnancy & breastfeeding.”
Avoid foods that contain caffeine. Common sources are Coffee, soda, teas, energy drinks, chocolate. 200mcgs is about the amount of 1 small cup of coffee.
Risk: Caffeine is both a stimulant and a diuretic. Its stimulant properties results in increased blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are not advised during pregnancy. As a diuretic, caffeine increases the frequency of urination that results in a reduction of body fluids that can lead to dehydration.
Caffeine also crosses the placenta and therefore reaches your baby. While adult women can handle the effects caffeine has on the body, a growing fetus cannot.
First, a growing baby’s underdeveloped metabolism cannot handle caffeine. Second, the stimulant effects of caffeine can result in the disruption of a baby’s sleep and normal movement pattern that occurs in the later stages of pregnancy.
Unwashed fruits and veggies could be contaminated with Toxoplasma, a harmful parasite to you or your unborn baby. Wash fruits and veggies thoroughly before eating.
Risk: toxoplasmosis contamination
Foods High in Sodium Nitrates
Foods like hot dogs and cured meats can be high in nitrates. If you want to eat these types of meats make sure to look for the “nitrate-free” versions.
Risk: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that pregnant women are most susceptible to the toxic effects of nitrates and nitrites that can cross the placenta and affect the baby.
Besides having a carcinogenic potential, nitrates pose a risk to babies inside the womb because they have the potential to react with the protein hemoglobin that delivers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues; when nitrates turn into nitrites and react with hemoglobin, they create modified proteins known as methemoglobins, which don’t deliver oxygen as effectively to the baby.
For a final quick rundown of foods to avoid eating while pregnant:
- Large fish
- Unwashed fruits and veggies
- Raw meat, eggs, poultry
- Raw seafood (careful with sushi)
- Cookie dough, cake batter
- Unpasteurized foods
- Foods high in nitrates
Eat Healthy Foods
The best way to fuel the pregnant body is through diet. Explore healthful foods for comfort and support of the body during pregnancy.
By keeping a mindful dietary plan during pregnancy, the benefits of the experience can outweigh the drawbacks.
Avoid unnecessary conditions and pitfalls of pregnancy from an improper diet.
P.S. You can get a printable list of what NOT to eat and put it on your fridge from our Ulitmate Pregnancy Planner along with 80+ pages of useful pregnancy printouts and journal pages in our pregnant mama shop.