Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Common pre-conceptual care and pregnancy dietary questions answered (By 4Ernesto)

Before I got pregnant with the quadruplets I never thought that I would change my eating habits. The day I found out I was pregnant the doctor gave me a list of what to eat and how to cook them. I was shocked. I never thought that I had to follow a specific way of eating. But guess what? My body was telling me what to eat; and believe it or not, those foods were exactly what the doctor said. I did not like sugar that much and I loved my food to be very well cooked. I normally do not like fruits, but back then I loved them. I love sushi, ice-cream, soft cheese and more or else anything that has more than 300 calories. During my pregnancy I hated all the above. I could not imagine eating row fish or soft ice-cream. When I look back I wonder how all that worked.

Always follow what your doctor tells you. There are few things that are common for all pregnant women but do not forget we are all different. Every case is different and every pregnancy is different. The most important is to follow your instinct. Your body knows what it needs and it is going to ask for it. Do not be afraid, million of women got pregnant before you and they made it!!! You will make it as well.

I will give you a list of questions and answers, about eating before and during pregnancy, that will probably help you.

1. Should I avoid eating green potatoes?

It was commonly believed that eating green potatoes during pregnancy was harmful because they may contain a natural toxin called solanine. This was originally linked with spina bifida but that has now been disproved.

2. Can I drink coffee?

The Royal College of Midwives states that, it is safe to drink four or five cups of caffeine-containing beverages per day, while pregnant or breast feeding. Caffeine is metabolised more slowly by pregnant women, especially during the last few months of pregnancy when many women find they naturally start to drink less. During the preconceptual care period, drinking three to four cups of regular strength coffee is fine, but ensure your thiamin intake is adequate.

3. Which cheeses are safe?

Cheese made from unpasteurised milk is likely to be contaminated with a bacterium called listeria. Although it is relatively rare (one case per 30,000 pregnancies) it can cause problems during pregnancy. They are best avoided in the pre-conceptual period too. All hard Cheddar-type cheeses are safe.

- Ripened soft cheeses, e.g. Brie, Camembert, Cambozola
- Blue-veined cheeses, e.g. Stilton, Roquefort, Blue Shropshire,
blue Brie, dolcelatte.
- Goat or sheep cheeses, e.g. fetta, chevre.
- Any unpasteurised sort and cream cheese.

4. Which milks are safe?

Blue, red and silver top cows' milk is safe to drink. Avoid the green-topped raw/unpasteurised cows' milk and all sheep and goats' milk (listeria and toxoplasmosis risk) unless it has been boiled immediately before drinking. Avoid soft whipped ice cream from ice cream machines.

5. Is yoghurt safe?

Yoghurts or fromage frais made from pasteurised cows' milk, including live, bio varieties, are safe. Avoid yoghurts or fromage frais made from sheep or goats' milk unless you know the milk was boiled first. Similarly, avoid unpasteurised (green top) cows' milk and any yoghurts made from them.

6. Are eggs dangerous?

Raw eggs and under-cooked poultry are linked with salmonella food poisoning. Everyone including women who are or are intending to become pregnant should avoid them. Make sure eggs are thoroughly cooked (set) before eating them - e.g. avoid runny omelettes. Avoid homemade mayonnaise made from raw egg yolk and home-made mousses made from raw, whipped egg white. Manufactured mayonnaise is made with pasteurised egg and is therefore safe - though watch the calories.

7. Is raw or undercooked meat dangerous?

Some raw meats are contaminated with a bacterium called toxoplasmosis. This can have serious effects on the foetus if infections occur during pregnancy although it is rare (one case per 50,000 pregnancies). While preparing for pregnancy and throughout, avoid raw meat products (e.g. steak tartare, dried raw meats) and ensure that cooked meats are properly cooked. Also avoid reheated meat unless thoroughly recooked - it could also be contaminated with listeria or salmonella.

8. Is liver safe?

Women who are pregnant, or are contemplating pregnancy, should avoid liver and liver products such as pate or cod liver oil. Liver contains high levels of vitamin A which can prove dangerous in pregnancy. Liver products also carry the risk of contamination with bacteria such as listeria.

9. Is shellfish safe?

It is best to avoid shellfish during the pre-conceptual care period and throughout pregnancy. Shellfish is a high risk food for salmonella, listeria and other exotic contaminants such as poisonous plankton and heavy metals.

10. Are food cravings dangerous?

In one survey of pregnant women, 49 per cent admitted to having food fads. Many women find their taste sensations are altered during pregnancy. They may go off foods they liked before - or crave foods they previously avoided. As long as your food cravings do not prevent you from eating a varied balanced diet and do not make you put on excess weight, they are nothing to worry about. If you find you are craving unusual substances such as toothpaste, boot polish or coal, seek advice from your midwife or obstetrician. These cravings are more common than you would think - do not worry, you will be taken seriously.

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