Wellingtonian Kelly is a mother to three girls. Here she tells about her culinary sacrifices and enhancements for the health of her and her babies. “The demands and pressures of carrying a baby are great... what to eat, what not to eat, drink, what pills to take. It’s endless."
The first time I conceived I was in Europe – I was confident that I was in good shape, physically, but I kept thinking about what I was putting into my body. I stopped taking the pill three months before we tried to conceive, purely because I heard it was good for your body to have a few “normal” cycles. Along with this I continued a healthy varied diet.
I also started taking a prenatal supplement, with folic acid being the primary constituent. Folic acid decreases the chances of developing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. It also has things like iron and calcium in it, as pregnancy draws hugely from these resources.
And then there is the great list on what not to eat; when I read this I was heartbroken. How would I survive without wine and cheese when I’m in France?
No booze, no caffeine, no soft cheese because it hasn’t been pasteurised, no pate, liver, or frois gras because of the high levels of vitamin A. Then I was off to Italy and found that I can’t have Parma ham or any deli meats because of the risk of contracting the Listeria bug which can cause miscarriage. This was a cruel place to be pregnant.
I was out at dinner one night and couldn’t eat a wide range of things that this particular restaurant had to offer, a man remarked to me “you pregnant woman are far too fussy these days, our mums used to eat whatever they wanted and we all turned out fine”. I replied that birth defect rates have also dropped considerably and there are a lot more healthy babies being born… that shut him up.
Of course, it should go without saying these days, that smoking (anything) during and after pregnancy is a complete no-no! Thank goodness I didn’t have to give that up as well.
Precautions don't stop with birth of baby
Once the baby is born, precaution doesn’t stop there, it continues if you are breast-feeding. I continued to take the prenatal vitamin Elevit because of the continuing demands on my body. I did have the odd glass of wine, however with no ill effects to either of us.
Some women don’t eat chocolate because it upsets their baby, whereas I kept Cadbury in business. I just kept away from overly spicy or intensely flavoured foods as this gives Isabella a bellyache. I guess we are all different.
It’s amazing how things get passed through breast milk, like once I had a pizza, and the next day Isabella was farting pizza all day... terrible.
And now, I’m pregnant again! So it’s back to the strict regime: folic acid pills, no coffee, no alcohol, no unpasteurised foods, no deli foods, no sleeping on my back. Argh.”
Kelly’s top tips
- do lay off the caffeine
- do take a folic acid supplement
- do eat a balanced healthy diet
- do watch what foods you eat when you are breastfeeding.
- don't smoke
- don't drink alcohol
- don't eat unpasteurised foods - soft cheeses, various other dairy products (check them first)
- don't eat pate or liver
- don't eat raw eggs, cafe or supermarket chiller foods like salads, dips or luncheon meat (you don't know how long they have been there and they don't get heated before consumption)
- don't eat Parma ham or any deli meats.