Exercise and healthy eating during your pregnancy can help you have a healthy child. There are also some substances you will want to avoid during your pregnancy.
The effects of smoking (cigarettes, cigars, pipes or marijuana) on the health of your baby are well known. They include low birth weight, miscarriage, bleeding during pregnancy, and early delivery. Second hand smoke is no less dangerous. Children of smokers are more likely to have colds and chest infections. Quitting smoking is never easy, and it may be more difficult with all of the pregnancy-related changes happening in your life. Talk to your doctor or midwife for support around quitting smoking
The Health Canada guide, Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, advises pregnant and lactating women to limit the amount of caffeine they consume to no more than 400-450 milligrams of caffeine a day from all sources. A typical seven-ounce cup of coffee can contain anywhere from 80-175 mg of caffeine depending on the type of coffee and how it is prepared. The same sized cup of tea contains about 60 mg. A can of cola has about 40 mg of caffeine and a solid three-ounce chocolate bar has about 45 mg
Drugs and Herbal Remedies
Review with your caregiver all the drugs you and your partner have been using, including prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, herbal remedies and recreational drugs. Don’t discontinue a medication or take a new one without consulting your caregiver. Herbal remedies are not safe just because they are ‘natural.’ Some herbal remedies, like goldenseal can cause miscarriage. If your caregiver does approve the use of an herbal medicine make sure you buy a reputable name brand. There are currently no regulations guiding the labelling of herbal remedies so reported ingredients may vary between brands. Not all ingredients may be reported.
Some women find herbal teas relaxing and soothing during pregnancy (especially if they are trying to avoid caffeine). Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, suggests six teas that are generally considered safe during pregnancy, if used in moderation (two or three cups a day). They are
- citrus peel
- lemon balm
- linden flower
- orange peel
- 6. rose hip
Again you should be wary of incompletely labelled products. Chamomile tea, which is often considered very mild, is not recommended during pregnancy.
When a woman drinks alcohol, she is at risk of giving birth to a baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). A FAS baby can have:
- central nervous system disorders
- behavioural problems
- growth problems
- abnormal facial features
Unfortunately, although the risk of FAS increases with the amount of alcohol a woman drinks, it is unclear how much alcohol is safe. As little as one or two drinks every day has resulted in problems. Three to five drinks at once may be particularly harmful. One drink is usually considered 43 ml (1.5 oz) of 80 proof liquor, 340 ml (12 oz) of beer or 142 ml (5 oz) of wine. In a joint statement, Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society and 17 other health organisations stated that ‘the prudent choice for women who are or may become pregnant is to abstain from alcohol.’
Caffeine is also present in green teas, some flavoured teas, cocoa, hot chocolate, some headache medications, and non-drowsy cold or allergy medications
Reprinted with permission from www.womenshealthmatters.ca ©2000-2006. Women’s College Hospital