As a new mom, you want to give your baby the best start in the world. Most of all, you want to keep them as healthy as possible. That’s why some parents feed their baby organic food and buy organic baby care products, like shampoo and baby lotion. Are these parents on to something? Is organic better for you and your baby?
What Does Organic Mean?
Organic foods are grown without synthetic pesticides and herbicides, unlike conventional foods that harbor remnants and traces of a variety of pesticides. Animals raised organically are also not exposed to antibiotics or growth hormone. What about organic personal care products for babies? Organic baby products that you place on a baby’s skin are made of organic ingredients and do not contain the harsh chemicals you find in some conventional products.
While it’s questionable whether organically grown produce is more nutritious, feeding a baby these foods may reduce their exposure to pesticides. That’s important since pesticides may be more harmful to a baby than an adult. Because a baby is growing and developing, pesticides and harmful chemicals may have more of a detrimental effect early in life than later on.
While there’s no definitive evidence that pesticide residues cause health problems, many experts believe we need more research before assuming exposure to these chemicals is safe. In animal studies, pesticide do have toxic effects, at least at high doses. Plus, some pesticides have already been banned due to links with health problems, like cancer. A pesticide called aldicarb was recently outlawed after children and adults became ill after eating watermelon sprayed with it.
Is the Hefty Price Tag Worth It?
Organic comes at a higher price, but for some moms, the steeper price tag is worth it. Knowing you’re giving your baby organic gives you added peace of mind.
What are your options if you can’t afford it? You might not be ready to grow your own organic food to save money. However, it’s not hard to make baby care products at home, including baby lotions and other products you place on your baby’s skin. You can buy the ingredients fairly inexpensively or even use ingredients you already have at home. You can find a variety of recipes for making baby care products online.
When you search for organic baby products online, you’ll find baby clothing, mattresses, diapers, and more. Unless you have unlimited funds, prioritize. While organic clothing and diapers might sound appealing, they probably aren’t as important as ensuring what your baby eats and the baby products you apply to their skin are safe. Keep in mind, some of the chemicals from personal care products are absorbed through the skin. So, choosing organic for these products may pay off more than dressing your baby in organic clothing.
Is Organic Better for You and Your Baby?
Organic costs a little more but spending a little extra for organic baby food and personal care products will give you added peace of mind and, if you shop around, affordable as well.
Mayo Clinic. “Organic Food: Better for Baby?”
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Pesticides”
Scientific American. “Toxic Pesticide Banned after Decades of Use”
Is organic better for you and your baby? Find out why choosing organic for certain baby items might be better for your baby and what to do if organic is outside your budget.
Premature infants or preemies are babies born before their due dates. For some, this may be just a few weeks early without much effect on your baby’s health or size. For others, a premature infant may be weighed in terms of grams, not pounds. Regardless of the circumstances, breastfeeding and providing your child with breast milk is still a wonderful way to help your preemie get the nutrition they need to grow strong.
Your Amazing Body
A new mom’s body is amazing in so many ways. Not only for giving birth to a beautiful little one, but also in making the milk that your premature baby needs. Breast milk moms make for premature babies has been shown to have higher components of fats, vitamins, calories, and proteins – all components your baby needs to grow stronger. Also, a mom’s milk has immune cells that can protect a preemie’s delicate immune system.
Sometimes preemies are simply too small to be able to nurse at the breast after birth. Babies do not develop the reflex to suck, swallow, and breathe to breastfeed until they are about 32 weeks’ gestation. Therefore, a baby born before this time may not be able to breastfeed just yet. Premature babies also often require a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for extra support for growth. As a result, babies may be bottle-fed or fed via a tube in their nose that goes to their stomach. This allows the NICU staff to track what your baby is eating, how their body is tolerating the food, and if your baby is gaining enough weight based on what they’re eating.
Of course, this presents a challenge for you as a mom who’s ready to breastfeed. Instead, you may need to pump your breast milk at this early stage and provide it to the hospital staff or give to your baby via a bottle.
Maintaining Your Milk Supply
Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand undertaking, and if your little one does provide the demand in the first few weeks, it’s possible you could have supply concerns as your baby develops. If your little one isn’t eating very much at each feeding or you aren’t yet able to feed baby at the breast, try incorporating pumping sessions into your day. You can do them at regular intervals, such as every three to four hours (give yourself a break to catch a few ZZZ’s at night).
Because your baby is likely very small as a preemie, their small belly may not take in much milk during a feeding. However, they will probably feed more frequently until they grow larger and may put more time between feedings.
Try the Cross-Cradle Hold
Sometimes preemies respond better to a breastfeeding hold called the cross-cradle hold. This position helps support your baby’s head while making the breast easily accessible until your baby is strong enough not to tire from feeding. To perform this hold, place pillows on your lap or use a nursing pillow. Lay your baby across your lap so that you are chest to chest. If nursing with the left breast, hold your baby’s head in your right hand and use your left to support your breast as you offer it to your baby. To view images of this hold, visit La Leche League International.
Your baby goes through many periods of growth and change in their first year of life. To support brain health, strong bones, and a healthy immune system, they’ll need plenty of nutrients. While you may know vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and vitamin C are important for baby to get, you may not know why. Here are some often-surprising facts about nutrients your newborn needs (and how to incorporate them into baby’s diet).
1.Iron and Hemoglobin F
Hemoglobin is an important part of red blood cells because it transports oxygen throughout the body. Most people have hemoglobin A, but newborns are born with mostly hemoglobin F. This type of hemoglobin better attracts oxygen so when baby is growing in mom’s belly, they will get plenty of oxygen. Hemoglobin F lasts until baby is about six months old – then baby has more hemoglobin A. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, including hemoglobin A. This is why a baby’s iron stores can sometimes drop after six months of age. For this reason, babies need plenty of iron – and they may not always get it through breast milk. Sometimes, doctors will recommend iron supplements or eating iron-fortified cereal or formula to ensure baby takes in enough of this important mineral. Babies also need iron to prevent symptoms like weakness, fatigue, and irritability.
2.Your Little One and Vitamin K
When your baby is born, they’ll receive a shot of vitamin K. While this may seem unusual, vitamin K is an important nutrient because it prevents the likelihood for brain bleeding. It works to promote blood clotting in the body – making it a very important nutrient! As your baby gets older, vitamin K-rich foods like spinach, soybeans, blueberries, and raspberries can all provide important sources of vitamin K.
3. Zinc’s Link to Iron
You already know why your little one needs iron to grow. But zinc is another important mineral your baby needs. First, zinc helps to prevent diarrhea – and any parent who’s ever dealt with a poo-splosion can appreciate zinc for that. Zinc also helps to build needed immune system cells. The good news about zinc is that many iron-containing foods have zinc too. That’s a bonus for you when you’re trying to find foods for your little one.
4.Vitamin D and Calcium Make a Great Team
Vitamin D and calcium are two nutrients that go together well to help the body absorb the maximal amount. Your newborn needs calcium to build strong bones and teeth (when they come in!) and vitamin D to promote bone growth and prevent the incidence of rickets, a condition that causes the bones to be weak. The good news is that both breast milk and formula will typically provide the needed calcium. However some breastfed babies may not get enough vitamin D. Ask your child’s pediatrician if you should consider a liquid supplement that can be easily mixed into a bottle of breastmilk.
A healthy, balanced diet is a must-have whether you are expecting or not. But since you are, there are certain nutrients you and your baby will need for growth. These include folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Because you may not always make eating foods that contain these nutrients a priority, there are a lot of ways you can incorporate these foods into your diet while meeting your daily caloric needs. Here are some tips for optimizing the nutrients you need while you’re growing a little one.
Choose leafy greens.
Leafy green foods are rich in folic acid, a nutrient you need to prevent neural tube defects, such as brain and spine birth defects. While your doctor will likely recommend taking at least a 400-microgram folic acid supplement, it’s great to take in more folic acid in your diet as well. Leafy green veggies like spinach and kale are excellent sources of folic acid.
Combine iron-containing foods with vitamin C-rich foods.
Taking in more iron while you’re pregnant helps ensure your body can get enough oxygen during pregnancy. You need an estimated 27 milligrams of iron a day while you’re expecting, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In addition to eating more iron-containing foods, pairing them with those that have vitamin C will ensure they’re better absorbed in the body. An example could include iron-fortified cereals with orange juice in the morning or a cut of lean red meat served with tomatoes.
Look for vitamin D-containing foods.
You need vitamin D in your diet to help your baby’s bones and teeth grow stronger. However, it’s hard to get enough vitamin D in your diet because it doesn’t naturally occur in many foods. Instead, you can look for foods that are fortified with vitamin D. This includes milk, cereal, and breads.
Look for non-dairy calcium sources.
Sometimes dairy products can be difficult to process when you’re pregnant, yet your calcium needs are at least 1,000 milligrams per day. If you’re lactose intolerant or just having a difficult time tolerating cheese and yogurt, consider other calcium sources like leafy, green veggies, broccoli, or calcium-fortified foods.
Incorporate some omega-3 fatty acid sources.
Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful to your baby’s brain development. You can incorporate these foods, such as fish or shellfish, into your diet. However, you’ll want to eat fish that are low in mercury. These include salmon, tilapia, canned light tuna, catfish, and cod. Eating between two and three servings of fish a week are an ideal amount for taking in enough omega-3 fatty acids.
Make sure you’re getting enough protein in the second and third trimesters.
Your protein needs will increase as your baby continues to grow, especially in the second and third trimesters. Taking in at least 71 grams of protein a day is a good goal, according to the Mayo Clinic. Examples of excellent protein sources include lean meats, fish, eggs, and poultry. If you’re a vegetarian, peas, tofu, peanut butter, and dried beans are all protein sources as well.
Losing Weight During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?
You may have been trying to lose weight and then suddenly discover that you’re pregnant. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you might wonder whether it’s safe to continue losing weight while you’re pregnant. Plus, some women panic thinking that if they gain too much weight, it’ll be impossible to take off. In response, they cut back on how much they’re eating.
Dieting during pregnancy is typically not a good idea. When you’re pregnant, you’re providing the fetus growing inside you with proper nourishment. The nutrients you give a baby when they’re developing an affect their growth and their brain health after they’re born. If you’re dieting, you may not be getting enough vitamins, minerals to support the health of you and your baby.
Is Losing Weight During Pregnancy Even Safe?
Whether it’s safe for women who are obese to lose weight during pregnancy is controversial. Women who are significantly overweight or obese are at greater risk of losing a pregnancy, having a stillbirth or a preterm birth. Obesity also increases the risk of giving birth to a baby that’s larger than normal and delivering a baby with a birth defect. Being obese during pregnancy also makes complications more likely, including gestational diabetes and pre-clampsia. Plus, if you’re obese, you’re more likely to need a caesarean section for delivery. These are all valid concerns. Still, the best time to lose weight to reduce the risk of these complications is BEFORE becoming pregnant rather than trying to lose weight while you’re pregnant.
What Happens if You Lose or Don’t Gain Weight When You’re Pregnant?
One study showed that moms who gained little or no weight during pregnancy were more likely to deliver an infant that was small for their age, with a smaller head, and a less healthy body composition. It seems that a certain amount of weight gain is necessary for lowering the risk of problems like this. The amount of weight your obstetrician recommends that you gain will vary depending on how much you currently weigh. If you’re significantly overweight or obese, they may recommend that you only gain a modest amount of weight.
The Bottom Line
Pregnancy isn’t the time for crash diets to weight loss, even if you do have extra weight you’d like to lose. Instead, eat a variety of nutritionally dense whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to supply your growing baby the nutritional support it needs. Limit the amount of sugar, salt, and processed carbohydrates in your diet. Packaged foods and processed carbs are usually higher in calories and lower in nutrition.
If your doctor gives the okay, take a brisk walk each day. If you’re obese, get your doctor’s recommendation on how much weight they’d like for you to gain. Also, keep in mind that there’s plenty of time to lose weight after you’ve delivered. The priority now is to give the baby growing inside you every nutritional advantage.
NHS Choices. “Overweight and Pregnant”
Medscape Family Medicine. “Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes in Obese Women Who Lose Weight During Pregnancy”
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “Obesity and Pregnancy”
The list of foods to avoid when pregnant can be quite long when you don’t want to take the slightest risk with the health of your baby. It is essential to understand the importance of a healthy diet, as well as the risks associated with certain foods and drinks.
What are the common foods to avoid during pregnancy
Unpasteurized milk: Although milk and milk products are an important source of various essential nutrients necessary for proper fetal growth, make sure the milk is pasteurized. Unpasteurized dairy may contain a number of harmful bacteria, including the ones responsible for listeriosis, a condition directly harmful to your baby.
Cheese: Soft cheeses, like Camembert, feta, Brie, blue cheese, and soft goat cheese are considered unsafe as they are mould-ripened and often prepared from unpasteurized milk, thus may carry the same Listeria bacteria.
Deli meat: It is recommended to avoid deli meats like ham, salami, and bologna, as they carry a small chance of listeriosis. However, you may continue to have your lunch meat sandwiches as long as you heat them in the microwave at 165°F. Make sure the meat is steaming hot before you consume it, as heat kills any pathogens. It is also safest to avoid hot dogs and bacon unless they are steaming hot.
Undercooked meat: In addition to Listeria bacteria, raw or undercooked meat may also (though rarely) contain an infectious parasite called Toxoplasma. So, it is recommended to avoid microwave-ready meat dishes and eating meat outside. Make sure to cook your meat properly – to medium/medium low – to reach a safe internal temperature, and so there are no pink parts in it.
Stuffing cooked inside poultry should also be avoided unless it is heated to a temperature of 165°F.
Liver: Vitamin A is essential for both the mother and baby throughout these nine months; but, like all other nutrients, too much of it can actually be harmful to your baby. One serving of cow liver contains around three times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A (retinol).
Pâté: Apart from the fact that the most common variety of pâté is prepared from geese liver, there are other risks that make it advisable to avoid it during this period. All pâtés, whether it is made of meat, fish, or vegetable, are likely to contain listeriosis bacteria.
Fish and seafood
High mercury fishes: Fishes, in general, are considered safe enough, being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids; but, high mercury fishes, such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and marlin, should be avoided. Mercury has a tendency to accumulate in your bloodstream, which may, in turn, hamper the growth of the fetal brain and nervous system . That being said, an occasional serving is not likely to cause any harm. Tuna, salmon, and trout are some of the safe choices, but it is better to take them in moderate amounts as the mercury levels may vary in canned tuna.
Sushi: Raw sushi should be avoided throughout all the three trimesters as the raw fish may contain certain harmful parasites. Although according to some experts, it is okay to eat raw fish as long as it has been frozen properly to kill any parasites, others recommend avoiding it altogether for these nine months.
Raw shellfish: Raw oysters, scallops, and clams are not safe for the same reasons as raw fish. Also, make sure your shrimps and lobsters are cooked properly.
Anything containing raw eggs, such as cookie dough and cake batter, may contain salmonella bacteria. So, make sure not to taste the cookie dough before your cookies are baked. Boil or fry your eggs well to make them firm, as undercooked, runny eggs also carry the same risk. Avoid any sauces and desserts with raw eggs, like mayonnaise, Caesar salad dressing, and mousse. Going for pasteurized eggs may be a safer option.
Caffeinated beverages: Your daily caffeine intake should be limited to 200mg, as too much caffeine may increase the chances of miscarriage or your baby having a low birth weight. So, limit your coffee, tea, chocolate, and caffeinated cold drink intake. You may have two standard mugs of instant coffee (100mg caffeine/cup) or one mug of filter coffee (140mg) in a day.
Alcohol: Make sure to stay away from even a drop of any type of alcoholic beverage, at least during the first trimester. Some experts recommend avoiding alcohol throughout pregnancy, but according to many, an occasional glass of wine in the second and third trimesters does not hurt. However, it should never surpass 3-4 units in a week; also, never drink more than 1-2 units at a time. Drinking too much while pregnant may lead to fetal alcohol syndrome in your baby, in addition to increasing the risks of premature birth and low birth weight.
Herbal teas: Certain herbal teas, including sage, alfalfa, dandelion, and cohosh (black/blue) are not safe for pregnant women. Popular teas, like chamomile and peppermint, should also be limited to a cup a day. Consult your doctor to find out about the safe and unsafe teas.
Food-related tips and precautions
The two-hour rule: Do not eat at a buffet where the food has been set out for over two hours (one hour during hot summers). Avoid carrying your leftovers home from the restaurant unless you can store it in your refrigerator within two hours of the time when the food was first served to you. Foods that stay inside a doggy bag for too long get warm, letting bacteria grow faster. Make sure to heat up the refrigerated food properly before consuming.
Separate your groceries: Pack the raw meat, seafood, and poultry separately from your fresh fruits, vegetables and the ready-to-eat items. Make sure to wash your hands with soap every time after handling raw meats to avoid spreading any bacteria. Wash the utensils used for storing raw meat with soap and warm water after use. Also, use separate cutting boards for meats/fishes and vegetables if possible.
Limit spicy foods: Spicy foods are not considered harmful to the baby, but it may trigger or worsen heartburn in some women. So, keep track of your diet to see if spicy foods are bothering you in any way, avoiding hot Indian curries, spicy Mexican and other dishes containing too much chili if necessary.
Go for pasteurized farm products: Always check the label of any farm product, whether it is honey  or fruit juices, to make sure it is pasteurized. Even freshly made juices in farm stands and juice bars may carry diseases like salmonella, listeriosis, and E. coli, as they are not pasteurized.[1, 25]
Caution about vegetables and pulses: Avoid items like coleslaw and fruit salads from salad bars, as well as pre-cut vegetables as they may have been handled inappropriately at the store, allowing bacteria and other harmful pathogens to grow in them. According to FDA guidelines, raw sprouts should be avoided by all, as they may carry bacteria that cannot be washed off in any way; however, cooking the sprouts kills the bacteria.
In addition to all the foods mentioned above, you should also avoid any foods that seem to make you uncomfortable, worsening problems like nausea, acid reflux, indigestion, and constipation. Your body knows best what your baby needs to grow properly.
- http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/foods-to-avoid-when-youre-pregnant [/ref]