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Pregnant

8 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is hard work for a woman. It is especially important for pregnant women to eat well and eat right during this period as her body accommodates a growing baby. A balanced and healthy diet can help to ensure both mother and baby attain the essential nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy and foetal development.

Generally, most foods are safe for pregnant women to consume, but here are some foods that you should try to avoid during pregnancy due to the possible side effects that may occur.

 

  1. Alcohol

“Surely it’s safe to have a glass of wine?”, you may think. Alcohol impacts brain cells and this may affect the developing foetus. Researchers have yet to determine the exact effect of alcohol consumption on a growing foetus but offer zilch nourishment to both pregnant mum and baby. It is recommended to steer clear of alcohol as it foils judgement, which may affect the pregnant mum’s decision-making too.

 

  1. Fish containing high levels of mercury

Mercury is a neurotoxin that is linked to brain damage and developmental delays in babies. Avoid fish known to contain high mercury levels such as shark, king mackerel and swordfish and opt for those with lower levels of mercury such as salmon, cod and canned light tuna.

 

  1. Vitamin A supplements

Vitamin A is a nutrient required for the embryonic growth of foetuses and aids in tissue repair after birth. However, certain types of Vitamin A in excessive amounts may lead to birth defects. The recommended amount of Vitamin A supplements to take, if necessary, is not more than 1,500mcg (5,000 IU) per day. Vitamin A converted from beta-carotene is not linked to developmental issues, so it is alright to continue consuming carrots and pumpkin.

 

Consult your gynaecologist before starting on supplements during pregnancy.

 

  1. Raw shellfish

Say bye to raw oysters and mussels at the buffet counter as raw shellfish can sometimes contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and other viruses that cause food poisoning. While most cases of food poisoning are unlikely to be harmful to the foetus, a small percentage of food poisoning cases result in miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth.

 

  1. Store-bought salads

While it is necessary to load up on essential vitamins from fruit and vegetables, it is wise to avoid purchasing store-bought salads and opt to prepare your own, where you can take extra care to ensure the fruit and vegetables are thoroughly washed before consumption.

If you must, choose salads with ingredients that are fully cooked and avoid raw sprouts and cold cuts.

 

  1. Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses including those that are mould-ripened like mozzarella, brie and camembert and blue-veined like gorgonzola and Danish blue, can contain a bacterium called Listeria which potentially causes listeriosis. Hormonal changes during pregnancy weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of listeria infection.

 

As soft cheeses are less acidic than hard cheeses and contain more moisture, harmful bacteria are likelier to breed. Choose hard cheeses such as cheddar, gouda, edam or emmental.

 

Soft cheeses are best avoided during pregnancy. Select hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda.

 

  1. Excessive caffeine

Caffeine crosses the placenta into the amniotic fluid and baby’s bloodstream. As your foetus is still developing, it takes much longer for caffeine to be processed and eliminated. This means that the effects of caffeine are much stronger on your foetus.

Thus, it is recommended to keep to a daily caffeine limit of 200mg, equivalent to a 300g cup of coffee. Excessive consumption of caffeine may lead to smaller babies which may lead to developmental problems later in life. Remember that caffeine is also present in other foods like chocolate, tea, soft drinks and ice cream.

 

  1. Liver products

The liver is considered as a nutrient-rich food that is packed with vitamins and minerals. However, the liver also contains a high amount of preformed Vitamin A which is detrimental to the development of your foetus. This is especially so in the first trimester.

Foie gras is made of goose liver, which contains excessive amounts of Vitamin A.

 

Keeping a balanced diet throughout pregnancy is beneficial to the healthy development of your foetus and aids in a smooth delivery. Mummies, what is one “forbidden” food that you have been craving this pregnancy? Let us know in the comments!

Categories
Babies For Parents

New Parents Guide to Preparing for a New Baby

Having a new baby is a huge milestone and it can cause jitters for many couples who have no idea what to do. If you’re one of them, don’t fret as we have compiled a short guide which you can refer to for help.

Have fun preparing for your new bundle of joy!

 

Baby Essentials
Should you get a cot, playpen or a co-sleeper bassinet? Which stroller should you get? When considering big-ticket purchases, it may be wise to brave the crowds at a baby fair where you can see the items in person and decide better. If you’re not particular, you can consider purchasing second-hand options to save money. Do check to ensure that they are in good working condition.

Some parents purchase only items that are absolutely necessary and buy the rest after the baby is born. Items that are necessary include newborn rompers, washcloths, toiletries, swaddle cloths, socks and diapers.

A baby bassinet can be placed right next to the bed for easy access to your baby in the first few months.

 

Feeding

Contrary to popular belief, babies should be fed on demand rather than according to schedule. A newborn generally drinks about 60ml to 90ml of milk every 3 or 4 hours if formula fed, and more frequently if breastfed. Rather than sticking strictly to a schedule and recording down all the details, it is better to look out for your baby’s hunger cues instead.

Hungry infants start off by licking their lips and making smacking sounds before rooting, fidgeting and squirming. If they are still not fed, this progresses into frantic crying.

If your baby is fully breastfed, nurse your baby the moment he or she exhibits hunger signs. It is rare for exclusively breastfed babies to be overfed so there is no danger in latching frequently. Breastfeeding also provides comfort and security to your newborn.


Umbilical Cord Care

The umbilical cord stump will take about a week to dry up and fall off. It is important to maintain the hygiene around the umbilical cord by keeping the cord stump clean and dry. Use a cotton bud dipped in warm water to gently clean around the base of dried blood and wipe the cord dry with a clean cloth. Keep the area airy to let the cord dry up faster.

 

Bathing a Newborn

Newborns can be given sponge baths until the umbilical cord has fallen off. Use a clean, warm towel to wipe your newborn’s face and body. When it has fallen off, you can use a bathtub with infant bath support to free up your hands to bathe your baby thoroughly.

Do ask the nurse at the nursery or an antenatal professional to demonstrate to you how to bathe a newborn if you are unsure. Both new daddy and mummy can learn and try – a little practice will help with growing your confidence!

Newborns require a lot of security from their parents since they’re new to this large and scary world.

 

Cuddling

It is perfectly alright to pick up and cuddle your newborn when he or she cries instead of letting him or her cry it out. Studies have shown that cuddling is not only perfectly safe, but it has long term effects on their health and development. Frequent skin-to-skin contact leads to improved neurodevelopment and lower rates of aggression.

Some experts believe it is impossible to spoil a newborn by carrying them “too much” as their needs are very much basic at this age – to be fed, cleaned, burped and comforted.

We hope this simple guide will be useful for you as you make preparations to welcome your very first baby. Feel free to share what you’re most anxious about when handling newborns!

Categories
Health & Nutrition Pregnant

Essential Nutrients for Pregnant Mums

Pregnant mums require extra nutrients to support the growth and healthy development of the foetus. Read on to find out the essential nutrients that pregnant mums should be consuming!

 

  • Folic acid/Folate – to prevent birth defects

Folic acid or folate is a B vitamin that is crucial because it prevents babies from being born with neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. In fact, folic acid is so important, it is recommended to consume 400 to 800mcg per day starting from three months before conception and throughout pregnancy.

Sources rich in folic acid include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, lentils and avocado. There is no risk of consuming excess folate from foods that naturally contain folate as it can be easily passed out in urine.

Avocado is rich in folate and contains healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.

 

  • Calcium – to strengthen bones

Calcium is required for strong bones and teeth, as well as to ensure that your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run the way they should. Calcium helps your baby develop a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles and a normal heart rhythm and blood-clotting abilities. Apart from dairy products, salmon, spinach, tofu, edamame and almonds are foods rich in calcium. You should consume 1,000mcg daily.

 

  • Vitamin D – for calcium absorption

Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption and also helps to build your baby’s bones and teeth. Ideally, you should consume 600 IU per day. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel contain Vitamin D. Soy milk and egg yolks also contain Vitamin D. Otherwise, 5-10 minutes in the sun lets your body make Vitamin D naturally too.

 

  • Iron – to prevent iron deficiency anemia

Pregnant women require twice the amount of iron to create blood that supplies oxygen to their foetuses. Insufficient iron levels may lead to a condition known as iron deficiency anaemia, resulting in fatigue.

In severe cases, there is a risk of premature birth and postnatal depression. Get your iron requirements met from lean red meat, beans and vegetables. Pregnant women require 27mg of iron daily.

Beef steak is a good source of iron.

 

  • Zinc – to help baby’s cells grow and replicate

Zinc is a necessary nutrient throughout all stages of pregnancy. Pregnant women should consume 12mg to 15mg of zinc daily. Zinc deficiency may cause pre-eclampsia, a condition characterised by abrupt hypertension, swelling and high protein levels in urine.

Fortunately, it is uncommon to suffer from a zinc deficiency as zinc is present in most foods in our diet such as beef, crab meat, poultry, nuts and beans.

 

  • Protein – encourages foetal growth

Protein encourages foetal cell growth and provides amino acids that boosts brain, bone and muscle development. Protein helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow and increases blood supply during pregnancy. Conversely, a lack of protein may cause poor bone, muscle and joint development and birth defects.

A mother should ideally consume 70g of protein daily from foods like peanut butter, eggs, meat and tofu.

 

  • Iodine – to develop your baby’s brain and nervous system

220mcg of iodine per day is recommended to develop your baby’s brain and nervous system and regulate its metabolism. Iodine is also responsible for thyroid gland regulation and a lack of iodine has been found to cause an increased risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and preterm delivery.

While it may sound stressful having to meet the daily nutritional requirements, most of the nutrients are already present in foods that we consume daily. Choose to eat more green leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts to keep a healthy diet throughout pregnancy. Some pregnant mums throw up whatever they eat, and their gynaecologist would usually prescribe multivitamin supplements to help them obtain the essential nutrients a pregnant mum needs.

Pregnant mums, do you take plenty of fresh foods to obtain a healthy mix of nutrition too?

Categories
Family Fun Pregnant

5 Simple Exercises Pregnant Mums Can Do At Home

Exercise doesn’t have to stop when you’re pregnant. In fact, it’s generally safe to continue workouts at the same level of intensity that you had before pregnancy! As a safety precaution, it’s always good to get an all-clear from your gynaecologist before embarking on exercise since your doctor would know your pregnancy journey best.

Exercising during pregnancy gives you more energy, reduces back pain and aids in a smoother delivery process as more oxygen-rich blood courses through your body.

Here are some simple exercises that you can do at home throughout your pregnancy!

  1. Breathing

Breathing exercises help pregnant mums remain calm and relaxed during labour.

 

We breathe all the time, but often shallowly. Deep breathing provides your body with ample oxygen which in turn gives relief from aching joints and muscles.

One breathing exercise you can try is counting breaths. Lie down on the floor, back facing down. Place one hand on your belly and breathe in deeply, counting to five. Hold your breath for 8 seconds and breathe out slowly, counting to 9 seconds. As you breathe out, push all the air out of your lungs whilst relaxing your body.

 

  1. Standing Push Ups

Standing push ups strengthen your upper body strength. Stand at an arm’s length from a wall and extend your arms so your hands are flat at shoulder height with your thumbs touching. Breathe in and press your body towards the wall to replicate a push-up.

 

  1. Triceps Dip

Sit on the floor with bent legs and your feet hip-width apart. Place your arms behind you and point your fingers towards your toes. Engage your core and pull your shoulders back and down while pushing your hips up through your hands. Bend your elbows back while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Push through the heel of your hand back to starting position. Try to do three sets of 10 triceps dips, resting 30 seconds in between.

 

  1. Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga can be practised throughout pregnancy. However, should you have prior health concerns, always inform your yoga practitioner.

 


If you are a veteran at yoga, you’ll be glad to know that you can practise it in the comfort of your own home and at your own pace. If you’re a beginner, it’s ideal to go for a prenatal yoga class at a studio where an instructor can correct your poses.

Prenatal yoga is beneficial as you’ll learn how to breathe deeply and consciously relax. There is very little impact on your joints and your muscles will be more toned and your balance will be improved.

Try the Cobbler’s Pose – sit straight against a wall, touching the soles of your feet together. Press your knees down slowly and stay in this position for as long as you’re comfortable. This is a basic pose which helps to open up your pelvis.

Another is the Wide Knee Child’s Pose, where you kneel on the ground with your buttocks on your heels and top of feet against the floor. Touch your big toes together and spread your knees wider than your hip. Lower your chest to the mat and extend your arms overhead until your forehead touches the mat. You can also choose to lay your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up.

 

  1. Kegels

Kegel exercises can be done anywhere and anytime during pregnancy or even after delivery. It’s so discrete, others would be none the wiser!

 

Pregnancy and childbirth are factors which may cause weakened pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles become loose, you may experience urinary incontinence. To prevent this, start by doing Kegel exercises.

To start, identify your pelvic floor muscles by stopping your urine midstream. Once you’ve done so, you can start the exercise by tightening and holding the muscles for five seconds and relaxing for five seconds. Attempt five sets and gradually increase the duration to 10 seconds. Breathe normally during the exercises and aim for at least 30 repetitions in a day.

As with all types of activities, don’t stress out your body and know your limits. Stop if you feel any discomfort and avoid overexerting yourself. Before embarking on the above exercises, you may like to inform you gynaecologists – these simple exercises can be safely attempted in the comfort of your own home throughout pregnancy! If you have other simple exercises that pregnant women can try out, let us know in the comments!