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What Not To Eat When Pregnant

What Not To Eat When Pregnant

You know about avoiding smoking and alcohol during pregnancy — but what about food? Many women worry about what kind of diet is best for them and their baby during this critical time. Below are basic guidelines on what not to eat when pregnant.

You Need to Avoid Some Dairy Products

Dairy, in general, is good for pregnant women because it gives you — and your baby — important nutrients like calcium and protein. However, there are some particular dairy products you should give a miss. Mostly, what you need to avoid are cheeses that have not been made from pasteurized milk. These can include brie, camembert, feta, roquefort and other blue cheeses, queso blanco, queso fresco and paneta.

The reason? Cheese made from unpasteurized dairy can harbor listeria bacteria. This can cause listeriosis, the condition which can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths and other serious health issues if women get this infection while pregnant.

You Should Also be Careful of Your Eggs

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Fresh multi-color farm eggs on the table.

    Again, eggs in general are okay — as long as they are completely cooked. They will provide you and your baby with protein and vitamins D and E, among others. However, raw or undercooked eggs can harbor the bacteria salmonella, which can cause food poisoning (salmonellosis) and other complications during pregnancy.

    The real danger here is eating raw eggs without realizing it. There are many food products that do, or may, contain raw eggs, including sauces like béarnaise or hollandaise, condiments like homemade mayo and desserts like raw cookie dough, homemade ice cream and mousse.

    You Should Avoid Some Meats as Well

    assorted raw meats

      When it comes to meat, there are a lot of no-no’s to keep in mind — and some might surprise you. First off, any fresh meat that you eat must be thoroughly cooked. You need to use a food thermometer and make sure that whole cuts of meat reach at least 145 degrees, ground meat 160 degrees and chicken breasts 165 degrees. This is because raw meat contains a parasite called toxoplasma, which can give taxoplasmosis to you and your baby.

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      You should also avoid deli and processed meats like hot dogs as well as pâtés and smoked, refrigerated meats like smoked salmon. All of these can harbor the listeria bacteria which, like unpasteurized dairy, can give you listeriosis.

      And the one meat you should avoid no matter how thoroughly it is cooked is liver. Yes, it’s high in iron but it also contains high amounts of vitamin A in the form of retinol. Too much vitamin A during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects.

      You Need to Be Cautious with Fish and Seafood

      pieces of salmon with spice on wooden plate

        Fish is good for you and your baby — as long as it is within limits. It is recommended that women limit their fish intake to two portions a week, however, because of the possibility of mercury in the fish. Mercury is a neurotoxin, which means it can do damage to the baby’s nervous system and brain. Fish that are highest in mercury include king mackerel, shark, tilefish, swordfish and marlin. The best choices — which tend to be lowest in mercury — are catfish, cod, salmon and canned, light tuna.

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        Raw fish or shellfish, such as sushi or raw oysters, should never been eaten during pregnancy. They can harbor both parasites and bacteria and are a common cause of food poisoning.

        You Need to Know about Unsafe Preparation of Fruits and Veggies

        set of different fruits and vegetables isolated on white background

          Fruits and veggies are great to eat when you are pregnant. But you need to know about unsafe preparation habits that you need to avoid.

          Firstly, never eat unwashed fruits or vegetables when you are expecting, because this, too, can put you at a higher risk for toxoplasmosis. Do not use soap to clean: instead, use water and a small scrubbing brush to gently cleanse and rinse the surface of the fruits and vegetables.

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          Another thing to be aware of is unpasteurized fruit juices, such as those made fresh in health food stores, health-conscious restaurants and fruit juice bars. Yes, these juices are loaded with nutrients – but they can also be loaded with salmonella and E. coli, neither one of which you want in your body, especially while pregnant!

          Lastly, do not eat any kind of raw, sprouted grains such as alfalfa or clover. These can harbor bacteria as well.

          You Should Watch What You Drink as Well

          Drop falling into a cup of coffee. On a wooden background

            What you drink while you are pregnant can be just as important to your baby’s health as what you eat. To begin with, of course, no amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy, due to the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. And it is recommended that women limit their caffeine intake to around 200mg a day. Excessive caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriages and stillbirths.

            You Can Get More Information about What Not to Eat When Pregnant

            This may seem like a lot to remember — but there are printouts to help remind you. For even more information on this topic, the Department of Health and Human Services has a wonderful printout about what specific foods are best to avoid. Basically, though, if you stay with thoroughly cooked eggs and meats, pasteurized dairy, and properly prepared fruits and veggies, you will be on track to keeping you and your baby healthy.

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            Published on November 30, 2018

            Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

            Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

            Postpartum depression (PPD) strikes about 15% of women around childbirth.[1] Moreover, this mood disorder is estimated to affect 1% to 26% of new fathers.[2] The causes of which are thought to be linked to hormonal changes, genetics, previous mental illness and the obvious change in circumstance.

            The stigma of mental health – with or without support from family members and health professionals – often deters women from seeking help for their PPD. In this article, I will show you 10 ways to begin overcoming PPD.

            Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

            Postnatal depression is defined as depressive disorder, beginning anytime within pregnancy up to the first year of the child’s life. The symptoms of post natal depression are the same as those of depression. In order to receive a diagnosis from the doctor, 5 symptoms must be shown over a two week period. The symptoms and criteria are:

            • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, nearly every day, for most of the day or the observation of a depressed mood made by others
            • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
            • Weight loss or decreased appetite
            • Changes in sleep patterns
            • Feelings of restlessness
            • Loss of energy
            • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
            • Loss of concentration or increased indecisiveness
            • Recurrent thoughts of death, with or without plans of suicide
            • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities
            • Low libido
            • Fatigue, decreased energy and motivation
            • Poor self-care
            • Social withdrawal
            • Insomnia or excessive sleep
            • Diminished ability to make decisions and think clearly
            • Lack of concentration and poor memory
            • Fear that you can not care for the baby or fear of the baby
            • Worry about harming self, baby, or partner

            Should you, a friend or your partner be showing any of these signs, I recommend you to seek medical advice.

            Causes of Post Natal Depression

            It is worth noting here that there is a difference between what is commonly known as ‘The Baby Blues’ and post natal depression.

            Postpartum blues, commonly known as “baby blues,” is a transient postpartum mood disorder characterized by milder depressive symptoms than postpartum depression. This type of depression can occur in up to 80% of all mothers following delivery. The Baby Blues should clear within 14 days, if not it is likely an indicator of something more in depth.

            It is not known exactly what causes post natal depression, however there are some correlating factors. These factors have a close correlation and haven’t been shown to cause PPD:

            • Prenatal depression or anxiety
            • A personal or family history of depression
            • Moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms
            • Stressful life events experienced during pregnancy
            • Maternity blues
            • Birth-related psychological trauma
            • Birth-related physical trauma
            • Previous stillbirth or miscarriage
            • Formula-feeding rather than breast-feeding
            • Cigarette smoking
            • Low self-esteem
            • Childcare or life stress
            • Low social support
            • Poor marital relationship or single marital status
            • Low socioeconomic status
            • Infant temperament problems/colic
            • Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
            • Elevated prolactin levels
            • Oxytocin depletion

            One of the strongest predictors of paternal PPD is having a partner who has PPD, with fathers developing PPD 50% of the time when their female partner has PPD. [3]

            Ways to Overcome Post Natal Depression

            1. Seek Medical Help

            As knowledge of PPD grows, more and more physicians are becoming aware of the indicators and risk factors. This means that health care providers are looking for signs as early as their first prenatal care visit.

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            If you are at risk, letting your provider know early in your pregnancy means that you’ll be given extra support and care throughout the process. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible.

            If it’s detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Experts have also found that children can be affected by a parent’s untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep disturbances, impaired cognitive development, insecurity, and frequent temper tantrums.

            2. Therapy

            This is the first line of defence against post natal depression and will commonly be prescribed alongside medication. Around 90% of post natal depression cases in women are treated with a combination of the two treatments.

            You don’t need to do anything special to prepare. Your counselor will ask questions about your life, and it’s important you answer honestly. You won’t be judged for what you tell, and whatever you talk about will be just between the two of you. Your counselor will teach you how to look at some things differently, and how to change certain habits to help yourself feel better.

            Therapy is personalized for everyone, but women in counselling for postpartum depression often discuss topics including; who you’re feeling, your behaviour, your actions and your life. (If you need immediate support please call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. The toll-free call is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)

            3. Medication

            There have been a few studies of medications for treating PPD, however, the sample sizes were small, thus evidence is generally weak.

            Some evidence suggests that mothers with PPD will respond similarly to people with major depressive disorder. There is evidence which suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective treatment for PPD.

            However, a recent study has found that adding sertraline, an SSRI, to psychotherapy does not appear to confer any additional benefit. Therefore, it is not completely clear which antidepressants are most effective for treatment of PPD.

            There are currently no antidepressants that are FDA approved for use during lactation. Most antidepressants are excreted in breast milk. However, there are limited studies showing the effects and safety of these antidepressants on breastfed babies.

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            4. Communication with Partner

            Don’t blame yourself, your partner, close friends or relatives. Life is tough at this time, and tiredness and irritability can lead to quarrels.

            ‘Having a go’ at your partner can weaken your relationship when it needs to be at its strongest. It can be a huge relief to talk to someone understanding.

            By spending time with your partner doing activities that you both enjoy, like going for a walk, can really help. This change of state, from moving location, can significantly elevate mood whilst providing ‘neutral ground’ in which to open up communication.

            Be honest with your partner and show ways in which they can support you best through this time, even if it’s just talking or letting you have time to go take a shower.

            5. Self Care and Rest

            Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired. It’s common that women are the experts at ‘being busy’ and ‘doing it all’.

            Rest whilst the baby is sleeping, and really take time to prioritise yourself. Throughout life, if you’re constantly giving out energy, you will be left feeling unbalanced. It’s important to become aware of one’s energy and making sure to give yourself energy first, before giving out is imperative.

            Your body has just been through the trauma of the birth, which is very stressful. It therefore needs time to recover so taking time to yourself is important. Things as simple as a cup of tea, or shower or listening to music will really help.

            6. Supplementation (especially DHA)

            St John’s Wort is a herbal remedy available from chemists. There is evidence that it is effective in mild to moderate depression. It seems to work in much the same way as some antidepressants, but some people find that it has fewer side-effects.

            One problem is that St John’s Wort can interfere with the way other medications work. If you are taking other medication, you should discuss it with your doctor. This is very important if you are taking the oral contraceptive pill. St John’s Wort might stop your pill working. This can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

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            It is also worth noting that fish oil (containing DHA) is being shown to correlate with lower instances of PPD. DHA consumption during pregnancy — at levels that are reasonably attained from foods — has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression,” conclude study researchers led by Michelle Price Judge, PhD, RD, a faculty member at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing.

            7. Movement

            Before starting any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor and find a fully qualified pre and post natal specialist. That being said, there is plenty of movement that can be done prior to ‘hitting the gym’, such as walking.

            Not only does being outside positively benefit you by getting some fresh air and vitamin D. The same is said for your baby, who will likely sleep better once they’ve been outside. Exercise gets your endorphins going, which helps alleviate depression symptoms, It can also get you focused on something for yourself. In an analysis of data from 1996 to 2016, researchers discovered that moms who stayed physically active after birth experienced fewer depressive symptoms.[4] In contrast, one study found women who led a more sedentary lifestyle were, in general, more likely to experience postpartum depression in the first place. [5]

            The type of workout doesn’t matter much. Yoga for pregnant women, stretching, and cardio are essentially equal in terms of making you feel better.

            8. Socializing and Support Groups

            Do go to local groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups. Your health visitor can tell you about groups in your area. You may not feel like going to these groups if your are depressed.

            See if someone can go with you. You may find the support of other new mothers helpful. You may find some women who feel the same way as you do.

            9. Accept Help

            Some cultures believe that the symptoms of postpartum depression or similar illnesses can be avoided through protective rituals in the period after birth. Chinese women participate in a ritual that is known as “doing the month” (confinement) in which they spend the first 30 days after giving birth resting in bed, while the mother or mother-in-law takes care of domestic duties and childcare.

            Whilst this may seem extreme, it’s worth noting that being able to accept help from your friends, partner and family can be extremely beneficial.

            10. Avoid Smoking, Drink and Drugs

            Which may seem common sense, however you may be tempted by the short term ‘fix’.

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            Don’t use alcohol or drugs. They may make you feel better for a short time, but it doesn’t last. Alcohol and drugs can make depression worse. They are also bad for your physical health.

            Final Thoughts

            Most women will get better without any treatment within 3 to 6 months. One in four mothers with PND are still depressed when their child is one-year-old. However, this can mean a lot of suffering.

            PND can spoil the experience of new motherhood. It can strain your relationship with your baby and partner. You may not look after your baby, or yourself, as well as you would when you are well.

            PND can affect your child’s development and behaviour even after the depression has ended. So the shorter it lasts, the better.

            Sometimes there is an obvious reason for PND, but not always. You may feel distressed, or guilty for feeling like this, as you expected to be happy about having a baby. However, PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault.

            It’s never too late to seek help. Even if you have been depressed for a while, you can get better. The help you need depends on how severe your illness is. Mild PND can be helped by increased support from family and friends.

            Featured photo credit: Derek Thomson via unsplash.com

            Reference

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