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Foods You Should/ Shouldn't Eat While Pregnant

Miao Jiangxia, Chinese medicine practitioners (Hong Kong Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine Limited)

What should you consume during pregnancy? This is a matter that pregnant women would concern the most. Dietary intake can be various based on health condition, food taste and the gestational age. It is difficult to generalize a fixed meal plan for every pregnant woman.

During pregnancy, the maternal nutrition status will directly affect the development of embryos and fetal health. Appropriate and good nutritional supplementation are not only helpful for the fetus normal growth, but a proper dietary intake is also important in preventing disease developments on both pregnant women and babies.

Avoid under- and over-nutrition

It is not recommended to do lose weight during pregnancy. The ideal weight gain for the entire pregnancy should be 10 to 14 kg. Undernutrition and nutritional deficiencies will increase the risk of getting abortion, fetal neural tube defects, edema, premature birth or lowered fetal birth weight, neonatal hemolytic anemia, hypotension, constipation and etc.

On the contrary, taking too much nutrients is also not a good idea to develop better fetal health. Excessive nutrients, increased blood glucose, and lowered insulin sensitivity would easily lead to gestational diabetes which, will higher the risks in getting pregnancy-induced hypertension, pregnancy edema disease, constipation, abdominal distension, and even stillbirth. In addition, gestational diabetes would potentially lead to type-2 diabetes on both maternal and neonatal end.

Seven diet taboos for pregnant women

1. Avoid coffee, tea, soft drinks and cola. Caffeine will cause uterine excitement, affect fetal growth, and encourage premature birth. Furthermore, these caffeinated beverages also inhibit the absorption of iron, it increases the risk in getting iron deficiency anemia.

2. Avoid processed foods such as bacon, salted egg, salted fish, ham, bean curd and etc. Excessive food additives intake will higher the chance in fetal obesity and deformity.

3. Spicy and salty foods would led to edema and high blood pressure; too much sugar will also reduce immunity and against abilities to viruses, leading to fetal malformations.

4. Excessive job’s tear and purslane intake would stimulate uterine muscle and lead to uterine contraction, miscarriage will be caused in serious scenario.

5. Avoid the foods that you are allergic to. Sensitive and active immunoglobulins can pass on to fetus through the umbilical cord and placenta. Food allergies impede fetal growth and development too.

6. No alcohol and tobacco. These harmful factors can cause deformity of the fetus during the first ten weeks of pregnancy, and taking too much alcohol would easily lead to organ abnormalities.

7. Do not take medicine, including both traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Some traditional Chinese medicine may slightly increase the chance of abortion, and therefore, there is a necessary to get consulted by qualified doctors for the medications during pregnancy.

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