What not to Eat and Drink during PregnancyFried, fatty, and greasy foods
The good news is, you’re probably not going to want to eat these anyway but in any case, stay away.  The heavy fat in your stomach isn’t going to feel good and the high heat creates compounds that are unhealthy during pregnancy.  You also don’t need the excess calories associated with deep-fried foods as well as the often-associated astronomical levels of sodium, which can drive up your blood pressure and lead you straight into toxemia.  Heavy, fatty foods can also increase the risk of a gallbladder attack and that’s never fun at all since it often leads to emergency surgery.

Foods such as sausages, bacon, smoked fish, and deli meats often contain high levels of sodium and known carcinogens such as nitrites.  These are added as preservatives and flavor enhancers – they’re not things you want to put into your baby’s system.

Eggs might not be a great idea, either – due to the fat content, they tend to repeat for hours.

Spicy foods
We all love a good Mexican or Indian dish every now and then but if you’re not used to it (and even if you are!), those spices can play merry havoc on your intestinal tract.  Pregnancy is associated with a few changes to your digestive system:  stomach acid production gets a little unstable, so you’ve either got too much or too little acid with the attendant reflux and heartburn and gas; hormones have made your stomach valve weak and a bit slack, so that increases your risk of reflux; plus you’re more prone to constipation.  Once the baby gets big enough, your stomach gets really mashed up in there so you don’t want blazing hot habañero lighting up the bottom of your throat!

Just think about a reflux situation after eating a nice Chicken Vindaloo – you’ll get what I mean.

Salty foods
Salt, you need to avoid.  Too much or too little sodium (less than 2000mg per day or more than 3000mg per day) very likely will impact the development of your baby’s kidneys, predisposing them to hypertension later in life.

Pack away the salt shaker and stay away from the McFries.  Read all labels carefully, paying close attention to anything containing the term “sodium” and drink plenty of water to keep your kidneys functioning well.  Keep a running tally to make sure you hit your target sodium levels.

“Fat free”, “Lite”, “Calorie-reduced”, “Lo-Cal”, “Low Fat”, etc.
These foods have had the fat and sugar removed – but they’ve been replaced with artificial sweeteners, thickeners, and chemical flavors to replace what’s been removed.  You’re not doing yourself or your baby any favors by eating a teeny little pot of nothing-calorie yoghurt.  You’re better off to learn to eat proper portions of real food.

Alcohol
Experts have been bouncing back and forth on the alcohol thing for centuries now.  For the longest time, doctors would prescribe a good strong stout for pregnant women.  In other countries and other times, it was red wine or mead.

Then they said no amount, ever, is safe.

Now they’re saying “well, maybe just a little” even though they still don’t know exactly how and when alcohol affects the developing baby and causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a collection of physical and mental differences that are characteristic of babies whose mothers drank during pregnancy.

Bottom line:  the potential consequences are too catastrophic to play around with your baby’s physical and mental development.  Don’t risk it.

Caffeine
I’m sorry.  But it’s true.  You really need to cut back on the java – I would say the Cola, too, but you’ve already stopped drinking those empty calories, right?  Also dial back the black tea, the green tea, the hot chocolate, and, well, any dark steeped beverage.

Here’s the scoop, straight from the horse’s mouth (the “horse” in question being Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research who ran the study):

“What we found is that for women whose caffeine intake was more than 200 mg every day, the risk of miscarriage was double compared with women who did not have any caffeine during pregnancy. For those who consumed more than 200 mg a day, their miscarriage rate was about 25%. Below 200 mg, we also saw a slight increase in risk, [but] we were not able to make a more definitive assessment. Generally speaking, though, for [risks due to] environmental exposure in the context of miscarriage, there is rarely a threshold effect. Usually, the higher the dose, the bigger the effect.”

– Caffeine and Pregnancy: How Risky? – TIME http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1731087,00.html#ixzz2ng704QPh

Is your vente double-tall worth a one in four chance of losing your baby?

Not only the increased risk to the baby’s survival and a lower birth weight of 21 – 28 grams per every 100mg of caffeine per day, but you don’t come out of it so well, either:  caffeine consumption is associated with five hours extra labor and eight hours longer recovery time, per 100mg of caffeine consumed!

Certain herbal teas:
Just because it’s “natural” or “herbal” doesn’t mean it’s safe – arsenic is natural and the heart drug  digitalin is herbal (from the foxglove plant).  The following teas are associated with serious risk of premature labor, miscarriage, pregnancy complications such as hypertension and so on, so it’s best just not to partake for the duration:

  • St John’s Wort
  • Don Quai
  • Ginseng
  • Yarrow
  • Penny Royal
  • Ephedra
  • Licorice Root

Drink plenty of good, clean water; moderate amounts of milk and juice; light amounts of tea and coffee; and no alcohol and you’ll stay well hydrated for the duration of your pregnancy.