What to avoid 100% during pregnancy:
Processed foods I’m sure you know by now to avoid processed foods in general. They are laden with hydrogenated oils, refined flour and sweeteners, artificial dyes and trans fats. You should not be eating anything that comes out of a box at this point, because it is vital for you to eat fresh and nutrient-dense foods that will help your baby develop and prevent any birth defects. When the pregnant mother eats trans fats, it has been found that it increases the risk for a low birth weight (LBW) baby. LBW babies are at an increased risk of being susceptible more chronic conditions later on in life, such as type II diabetes and cognitive disabilities (Fallon-Morell & Cowen, 2013). Trans fats also wreaks havoc on the baby’s physical and neurological development so it is best to completely rid your diet of these non-foods. Refined and artificial sweeteners are debilitating to both the mother and the baby as this toxin actually strips the body of essential nutrients just to process it. Pregnant mothers who eat refined sugars tend to give birth to babies who become overweight in life and more susceptible to type II diabetes (Fallon-Morell & Cowen, 2013).
Caffeine, alcohol, drugs and smoking Do not drink alcohol during pregnancy to avoid the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) which includes fetal alcohol syndrome. FASD is characterized by physical, developmental and neurological deformities in the baby. If you enjoyed a regular alcoholic beverage before you became pregnant, now is the time to find alternatives. Some good ones are kombucha and kefir, because on top of being delicious, these fermented beverages contain healthy bacteria which make it great for you and your baby’s microbiome. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and caffeinated beverages, should also be ousted because it causes adrenal stress on the mother and baby. It is very important to avoid stress and learn good stress management techniques to use while pregnant to prevent adrenal fatigue in the mother and baby. You can download a free and quick stress management guide here. Pharmaceutical drugs have been historically associated with birth defects and even death, and smoking is associated with the risk for preterm and LBW babies (McGuire & Beerman, 2013). For best practices all drugs should be avoided.
GMOs Genetically modified foods have been found to cause birth defects (Fallon-Morell & Cowen, 2013). In America, some of the largest GMO crops produced are corn, soy, and sugar. Pregnancy is a time of rapid hormone production, and therefore, this is not the time to be consuming phytoestrogens. Avoid all soy products like soy milk, soy burgers, tofu and soy sauce. Stick to eating organic fruits and vegetables before, during and after pregnancy.
Dieting You have to gain weight during pregnancy to produce a healthy baby. You should be gaining anywhere between 28 and 40 pounds depending on what your weight and BMI was before pregnancy. If your BMI was below 18.5, you should gain 28-40 lbs. If your BMI was normal (18.5 – 24.9), your weight gain should be 25 – 35 lbs. If your BMI was high (above 25) you should gain 15 – 25 lbs during pregnancy (McGuire & Beerman, 2013). Weight gain is very important here because growing a baby in-utero requires higher nutrient and energy requirements. Insufficient weight gain can endanger both the baby and the mother because it poses a risk for insufficient nutrients. When nutrients are not being gained from the diet, the mother’s body will actually take nutrients from the mother’s body to deposit into the growing fetus. Dieting is a HUGE no-no during pregnancy. Mild exercising like walking and yoga is great for circulation and stress relief. Do not confuse this with exercising to lose weight; pregnancy exercises are gentle in nature to ensure the health of the mother and baby, and also for optimal birthing. Embrace the changes your body is going through and continue your self-grooming habits, because it feels good to look good.
The embryonic period, which is between the first and eighth weeks of pregnancy, is considered to be a highly sensitive time and is crucial for the mother to live a healthy lifestyle with a nutrient-dense diet, gentle exercises, and free from stress to ensure healthy embryonic development. The first trimester includes the embryonic period as well as the first part of the fetal period. The baby’s organs are being created purely from cell division which is a critical period for ample nutrition intake. It should also be known that abnormalities caused to the embryo during this time are not reversible (McGuire & Beerman, 2013). Miscarriages can happen during the first 20 weeks if there are complications. Eat a diet with plenty of good quality proteins (eat an additional 25g of protein per day) such as pastured meats, fatty fish like sardines and wild-caught salmon, raw milk, liver, and free-range eggs. Also be sure to eat healthy fats like cod liver oil, coconut oil and pastured (grass-fed) organic butter. Talk to your doctor about finding a good supplement that includes essential micronutrients for pregnancy, such as folic acid. Nordic Naturals carries excellent quality and esteemed cod liver and fish oil products.