There are of course, some foods and drinks you should limit or steer clear of completely when you’re pregnant. There are also some simple precautions to take.
Avoid listeria contamination
You can get a listeria infection from eating contaminated food.
The listeria bacteria are found in nature and in some foods, both home-cooked and bought food. While listeria infection is uncommon and causes few or no symptoms in healthy people, it can be very dangerous.
If you get a listeria infection during your pregnancy, there is a high risk that it will be transmitted to your unborn child. Listeria infection of the fetus can lead to miscarriage, still birth, premature birth or can make a newborn baby very ill.
You can lower the risk of listeria contamination by:
taking simple food hygiene steps at home
being careful about food made by others
avoiding certain high-risk foods including ready-to-eat chilled foods such as cold deli meats, pâté and soft cheeses like Brie.
Limit certain types of fish
Fish is a good source of nutrients for you and your baby, but some types of fish should be limited because they can be high in mercury and affect the baby’s developing nervous system. These include:
shark (flake), swordfish, marlin and broadbill – limit to one serve per fortnight
sea perch, orange roughy and catfish – limit to one serve per week.
In both cases, you should only eat these fish if you haven’t eaten any other fish during that period.
Tea, coffee and cola drinks contain various amounts of the stimulant caffeine, so it’s best to limit the amount of caffeine drinks you have each day.
Because alcohol can have an effect on the development of your baby, no alcohol at all is the safest choice if you are pregnant, or planning to get pregnant.
Breastmilk contains everything your baby needs for the first six months of life, so exclusive breastfeeding during this time is recommended to help with your baby’s healthy growth and development.
Why am I so hungry?
Here’s a curious fact… making breastmilk for your baby actually uses more energy than any stage of your pregnancy. No wonder you may feel hungrier than usual.
Choosing healthy snacks is a good way to look after yourself, and help keep you and your baby well nourished.
Healthy snack ideas include:
dried fruit, nuts or seeds
cracker biscuits with low-fat cheese or a spread such as peanut butter
fruit bread, english muffins, pikelets, rice cakes
plain fruit buns
milk drinks, and fruit and milk blended smoothies
low-fat yoghurt with fruit.
When you are breastfeeding, your body still needs some extra energy and nutrients, particularly protein and calcium. You can get these extra nutrients and energy by continuing to choose a variety of foods from the five food groups.
Iodine is also important, so chat to your doctor about whether you need an iodine supplement.
What about caffeine and alcohol while breastfeeding?
Some caffeine from coffee, tea and cola drinks will pass into your breast milk, but small amounts are not thought to be harmful. Limit the amount of drinks containing caffeine to no more than two or three cups a day.
Alcohol, like most drugs, can also be passed on to your baby through breastmilk. Not drinking alcohol while breastfeeding is the safest option.
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of complications, pre-term delivery and having an unhealthy baby. Quitting smoking before or during a pregnancy can help protect your baby.
Once your baby is born, it is important to give them the best start in life by having a smoke-free environment.
If you smoke and are breastfeeding, some of the nicotine and poisons from cigarettes are passed to the baby through breastmilk. The best thing you can do for your baby is cut down or quit.
If you can’t manage this, you should keep breastfeeding, because it will help protect your baby against sickness. You should breastfeed your baby just before smoking to reduce the amount of nicotine your baby will get in breast milk.
Going outside to smoke can also help protect your baby from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.
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