This article is for both men and women. At least if a woman forgets what might be harmful to her, her man/husband might remember and in the process, achieve a common goal- Protecting their unborn child.
A pregnant woman has a helpless, choice-less and vulnerable child within her and it behoves her to do all within her power to protect the child.
Many couples have found out the hard way that possibly what they did (or didn’t do) during pregnancy was what led to the deformation, lifelong reaction, or even death of their unborn child and many wished that they had done things differently.
Some cynical people might say that people have been having babies from the time of our fore fathers without all the advancement in medicine and research. Yes, it’s true but not every single person who ever got pregnant back then had a healthy baby. Many people then had also lost pregnancies, or have had complications or stillbirths too. The purpose of this article is to reduce all that through knowledge.
We all know that during pregnancy, you should not smoke or drink so that would not be included here, but if you didn’t know that already, you are welcome.
Below are the things you are to avoid:
1. RAW AND UNDER-COOKED EGGS: In these parts, they are called ”half cooked”, ”watery yolk” etc. Many people like eggs that are not well cooked for various reasons that vary by individuals, but during pregnancy, this is a no-no. In fact, it’s not only raw or under-cooked eggs but things that contain raw eggs like mayonnaise, cakes and chocolate mousse and (ice cream in regions that have weak regulatory bodies) the reason that ice cream is mentioned here is because in countries that have good Food regulatory bodies, they ensure that the eggs used in ice cream is pasteurized, thus safe to eat but in some countries that have weak regulations like er, some countries, you cannot know what is used for the ice cream you buy. Eggs is not bad as it is a very good source of protein that is required during pregnancy and is a readily available way to get protein. Just make sure that when you want to eat eggs or things that contain eggs, that it is very well cooked.
Reason: Salmonella. Eggs might harbour salmonella bacteria but when you cook them well, you kill off these bacteria, but if you do not cook well, you might get salmonella from the eggs and this causes food poisoning. About 4% of cases get bacteraemia which is the presence of bacteria in the blood and can lead to intrauterine sepsis (Neonatal Sepsis)
I have friends that all they eat is liver in food. They love the taste so much and they have heard that it is highly nutritious; this is very true. Liver is nutritious but might be just too nutritious for a pregnant woman.
Reason:There are 2 types of Vitamin A. The first one is called provitamin A carotenoids (of which beta-carotene is one) and the preformed vitamin A.
For Provitamin A carotenoids, the sources are mainly from fruits and vegetables. There is no limit to the amount of this type of vitamin A that you can consume. Sources include carrots, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products and fruits.
Liver contains high amounts of preformed vitamin Aalso known as retinol. You can find this vitamin in eggs and milk as well.
Preformed vitamin A are highest in liver and fish oils as well but in lower quantities. The USDA, the food agency in the US, recommends getting NOT MORE than 10,000 IU of preformed vitamin A from animal sources,supplements and foods all combined each day. This is because preformed vitamin A, above these limits can affect the unborn child. A small portion of cow’s liver for example, contains 30,000 IU of retinol. Which is already above the recommended limit.
Taking above the limit can cause teratogenic (Deforming) effects on the baby. It can reach the foetus quickly through the placenta causing dangerous teratogenic effects which disturb the development of an embryo or foetus or may cause a birth defect in the child. It may halt the pregnancy completely or give conditions like heart conditions, cleft palate, blindness & limbs reduction to the child.
So, this must be avoided during pregnancy.
GRAPES AND RAISINS: Did you know that Grapes are Raisins and Raisins are Grapes? Well, now you know. Raisins are dried Grapes.
Reason: The reason to avoid Grapes (and Raisins) is due to high amounts of resveratrol present in them. This chemical present in Grapes can cause the following for pregnant women:
Excessive heat in the stomach which can lead to diarrhoea, a dangerous condition for pregnant women because of fluid loss.
Acidity in the Grapes can lead to heartburn for pregnant women, who are already susceptible to heartburn anyway because of the pregnancy.
Resveratrol in Grapes can be toxic to hormonally Imbalanced pregnant women which might lead to severe complications.
Another reason to avoid grapes is the level of pesticides usually used on grapes before harvesting, to prevent pests from attacking it.
Also, avoid cereals that contain raisins like ‘’Fruit and Fibre’’ etc.
PAWPAW, PAPAYA (UNRIPE AND SEMI-RIPE):Although Pawpaw is rich in vitamin c and nutritious; In the middle-east, Pawpaw has been used from days of yore to induce abortions.
Reason: It is due to what is contained in pawpaw, mainly unripe and semi-ripe pawpaw- papain and latex which is well known to trigger uterine contractions. Also, avoid the seeds in smoothies and other sources.
PINEAPPLE: Pineapples are rich in bromelain, an enzyme naturally occurring in it.
Reason: The substance bromelain, in pineapples, softens the cervix and leads to pre-term labour. It can lead to miscarriages in early pregnancy too so it should not be consumed during pregnancy.
LICORICE: Licorice is the root of a plant, Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a sweet flavour can be extracted. Did I hear “Who eats this licorice anyway”?
Licorice is used as spice in several cuisines and because Licorice is sweet, it is used in candies and sweets eg. “Twizzlers” and several diet gums. Its extracts are often used as flavouring agents to mask the bitter taste in medicinal preparations.
Reason: Natural licorice contains a component called glycyrrhizin, which decreases the strength of the placenta thereby allowing harmful hormones into your baby’s system during foetal development. These hormones can interfere with the development of your baby’s brain.
A study found that women who consumed large amounts of licorice during pregnancy, had children that were less intelligent, had low IQ and had behavioural problems.
Licorice can also cause uterine contractions and lead to pre-term labour.
Consumable items that contain licorice usually have it written on their labels, so read the content of what you want to eat and if it contains licorice, avoid it.
HOTDOGS/SAUSAGES AND SHAWARMA: Sadly, you might have to do away with your beloved shawarma and hotdogs during pregnancy.
Reason: They are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health problems for you and your baby.
Shawarma is even worse because it contains multiple possible sources of this pathogen. If you do not get it from the processed meat which is the sausage in it, you can get it from the meat sliced in it and if you avoid both, you can still get it because it is like an incubator for bacteria due to its salad-like preparation. So, for baby’s and your sake, avoid shawarma, hotdogs, beef jerky, sausages. the risk is not worth the pleasure.
Other things to avoid, which I would not be able to expatiate on include:
Sugar-rich foods, Canned foods, Herbal teas and herbal supplements, caffeine products, Anything unpasteurized, salads outside (Not super-hygienically homemade), peanuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts, raw vegetables, unwashed fruits and vegetables, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tile fish.
Summarizing all this, just keep it simple, know that you have weeks to deprive yourself of certain pleasures, know the goal, which is to have a healthy child and be healthy. Always wash everything you want to eat (except of course, it cannot be washed) Always boil anything you can boil to kill bacteria and never take any drugs not given to you by a doctor that knows your pregnancy status.