As an expectant mother, you will naturally be concerned about how your diet and lifestyle will affect your unborn baby. You are responsible for your own health and that of your child so you need to be sure that you are not inadvertently harming your baby.
A balanced diet is the key
Generally speaking, probably the best things you can do for your baby are simply to have a healthy, well-balanced diet and to eat regularly. This will ensure that baby gets all the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy growth in the womb. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it is good for you, then it is probably good for the baby. If you already eat properly, then there is no need to change your diet during pregnancy.
What to avoid
Even parts of your seemingly healthy diet could, however, threaten your baby’s health and development. Uncooked or undercooked foods pose the very real possibility of food poisoning. Make sure that salads are thoroughly washed and come from reputable suppliers. It is also a good idea to make sure that meat and eggs are thoroughly cooked through – give that rare steak or those oysters a miss until after baby is born.
While foods that are rich in vitamins are essential parts of your diet, too many vitamins can be harmful. An excess of vitamin A, found in large quantities in liver and fish liver oil for example, can lead to birth defects, so you should carefully monitor your vitamin A intake, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy
You should also avoid soft or blue-veined cheeses. These are often unpasteurised and can cause listeria infection known as listeriosis, which can lead to miscarriage or premature birth. Fortunately, this condition is rare.
Alcohol and proscribed drugs are known to be harmful to unborn babies and should be avoided at all costs. Nicotine and caffeine are also harmful. Between them, these substances can slow your baby’s development and can cause a low birth weight. Avoid these substances and avoid the risk.
It may seem glib but getting your baby through to birth safely is mostly a matter of common sense. If you eat properly with a good diet and lead a healthy lifestyle then your baby stands the best chance of developing well in the womb. This means eating a good variety of foods; making sure that your food is clean and well-cooked; and, avoiding harmful substances and foods.
If you are in any doubts, however, about what you should or should not ingest, remember that your medical practitioner is there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Your child depends entirely on you and it is up to you to make sure that you do all you possibly can to protect it and bring it into the world in the best possible health