During Christmas, pregnant women may tend to consume more sugar, alcohol, oily foods, flour based foods, etc., which are unhealthy. Dr. Choice Onyinyechi, a Gnaecologist and Child Health specialist at Medifem Hospital educates pregnant women on best dietary options during this festive season.
Dr. Choice Onyinyechi advise that pregnant women should eat foods that are rich in protein such as lentils, dried beans, peas and nuts, avocado, dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, collard or turnip greens, okra, and fruits such as orange, water melon, mango, pineapple, etc. She added that pregnant women need to drink plenty of water, while reducing the intake of foods that have high contents of fats and oils.
She noted that while families plan ahead on what to eat, it is necessary that they also stick to the plan. Details of the plan she said, should include: eating a balanced diet at all times and avoiding junk foods, cooking in large quantity, shopping for foods that are rich in folic acid and vitamin C. She indicated that during the first trimester of pregnancy, pregnant women should include more of ginger in their food, and more of iron rich foods in the second trimester, and more of vegetables in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Speaking on flour based foods; Dr. Choice said although pregnant women can eat flour based foods, they should consume the healthy ones. She recommended that they eat healthy flour foods such as meat pies that have plenty of vegetable fillings, whole grain biscuits, and fruit cakes, while they avoid those with high starch or carbohydrate content.
She also mentioned that although pregnant women can take in coffee, tea and other beverages that contain caffeine, they should limit its consumption daily to a quantity that is less than 200mg. She emphasized that taking too much of caffeine beverages during pregnancy can lead to miscarriages.
According to Dr. Choice, pregnant women should totally avoid alcohol. The reason being that taking in alcohol during pregnancy can lead to “fetal alcohol syndrome,” a condition she says causes poor brain development of the unborn child.
In addition, they should reduce sugar especially when preparing breakfasts. She cited sugary food substances such as ice-creams, fizzy drinks, etc. as unhealthy to take by pregnant women, even when they crave for them. She indicated that when there are cravings for these sugary food items, it is important to substitute them for the natural sugars by eating fruits such as orange, mango, pineapple, or honey.
Dr. Choice noted that there are times pregnant women may feel unwell. She advises that the first thing they do is to go to hospital for check up. Prior to seeking medical attention, they should ensure that they are well hydrated. If not, she suggests that they increase their water intake, take Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) if they have diarrhea and importantly, they should prepare and eat hot balanced diet meals.
Her advice to pregnant women and the general public during this festive season is that you should not over eat. Rather, you should still keep to eating a balanced diet three times daily, eat little quantity at a time and increase your water intake. When you go for snacks and other food items which the occasion will call for, ensure that they are nutritious and good for your health. Finally, you should exercise regularly to keep your body in good shape.
An interview with Dr. Choice Onyinyechi Wereko-Dankwa, a Gynaecologist andChild Health specialist at Medifem Multi-Specialist Hospital and Fertility Centre.