Prevention and Treatment of Heartburn in Pregnancy

Heartburn is one of the most common complaints of pregnant women. It can be so incredibly painful as to be nearly debilitating, interrupting sleep and making meals unpleasant. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid and to treat heartburn that are safe during pregnancy.

What Is Heartburn?

Heartburn is caused by stomach acids rising up in to the esophagus, also called reflux. It happens when the sphincter at the opening of the esophagus relaxes, allowing the acids that break down food in the stomach to come up. This creates a burning feeling that, if left untreated, can eventually damage the esophagus. This type of chronic reflux is a serious problem that needs to be treated by a doctor. Fortunately, reflux in pregnant women is just a temporary condition.

A number of factors are to blame for heartburn during pregnancy, most of them not controllable. The changes in hormone levels, new sensitivities to food, and the pressure being put on the stomach by the growing baby can all contribute to heartburn. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of getting heartburn, and to treat it when it does occur.

Diet and Heartburn

What you eat, as well as how much you eat, can affect the odds of having problems with reflux. Eating meals that are too large, fried or very spicy can all cause heartburn to occur. Try to eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than large ones all at once. Take your time eating, and make sure your food is thoroughly chewed before you swallow. Eating more slowly will also prevent overeating by allowing your body time to send the signal to the brain that the stomach is full.

You should avoid lying down after eating, and try instead to take a short walk to encourage digestion. Try not to eat within a few hours of bedtime. If you notice that you get heartburn most often after certain types of foods, you might have to avoid those foods for the duration of your pregnancy.

Treatment of Heartburn

Before you try medications for heartburn, there are a few natural remedies that might be beneficial. If you find that your heartburn occurs mainly when you lie down, try to sleep propped up on extra pillows. This elevation will allow gravity to help keep stomach acids down where they belong.

Some foods, such as milk and peppermint, seem to help with heartburn by neutralizing stomach acids. In fact, many over the counter heartburn medications contain calcium, just like milk.

When simple remedies don’t work, you should be able to use over the counter heartburn meds, many of which are safe during pregnancy. As with any medication, talk to your doctor before taking anything. If you have severe heartburn that is resistant to these medications and is disrupting your life, your doctor can prescribe a stronger medication that is safe for your baby and will alleviate your symptoms.

As with many of the less pleasant parts of pregnancy, your heartburn should disappear after your baby is born. Hopefully however, you won’t have to live with it for the duration of your pregnancy. By changing your diet and eating habits and using a few simple preventative methods, you might be lucky enough to avoid most bouts with heartburn. If not, there are treatment options that are safe and effective. Don’t suffer with bad heartburn needlessly – talk to your doctor!

Abdominal Discomfort: How to Eat When There’s No Room

As your baby grows, the uterus will start to put more pressure on the organs in your abdomen, and this can lead to a great deal of discomfort. The pressure on your bladder will have you running for the bathroom regularly, while the baby pressing against your stomach can make it hard to eat.

Although that pressure might make it feel like there is just no room for food, you do still need to eat. Your body needs extra calories during pregnancy, not less, so skipping meals is never a good idea. When the pressure is at its worst, the last thing you want to do is to attempt to put food in your stomach, but for your health and your baby’s growth, you will have to find a way. Although there is no way to completely stop the feeling of pressure, there are ways to prevent eating from making it worse.

Split Up Your Meals

Instead of eating 3 meals a day, split them into 6 or even more. Eating much smaller portions will make it easier to get the food down, and your body will have time to digest before you attempt to eat more. Make sure that you are still getting all the required servings of each of the food groups, just split those portions into smaller ones.

Eating smaller meals will not only keep your stomach from feeling too stuffed, it will also help you to maintain steady levels of energy throughout the day. In fact, many dieticians recommend this method even when there isn’t a baby sitting on your stomach.

Balance What is on Your Plate

Make sure that you aren’t eating meals that are too heavy on the really filling foods like high-fiber choices. You do need that fiber, but you should break it up throughout the day. Breakfast is often a high-fiber meal, so try to take some of those foods out of your breakfast meal and move them to other parts of the day. Or, make breakfast two separate meals.

Choose Your Timing Wisely

You might feel a lot more pressure at certain times of the day. If you work a desk job, sitting for long periods can make the abdomen feel cramped. In the morning the pressure might be lessened since you have been lying down and the baby may have shifted away from the stomach. Take advantage of times when the pressure isn’t so bad to fit in a good meal. If you are feeling like you don’t want to eat, but know you should, try taking a short walk to see if it helps the pressure, If not, choose something that won’t be too heavy in your stomach. A smoothie is a great choice for nutrition that won’t leave you feeling super full. If you really can’t eat, at least have something nutritious to drink, such as milk or fruit juice to keep you going.

Towards the end of the pregnancy, when the baby is really taking up all of the available space in your abdomen, eating may become an even greater challenge. The good news is you are nearing the end. Soon you will have your abdomen back, albeit a little changed. After all the challenges of eating during pregnancy, from the nausea early on to the incredible pressure of a baby on your stomach, you can look forward to enjoying a meal again very soon!

Dealing with Lactose Intolerance During Pregnancy

If you are lactose intolerant, you have probably already found ways to deal with it on a daily basis. However, when you become pregnant, a new set of challenges presents itself. Getting all the calcium you need can be a challenge without milk or milk products, but there is no reason it can’t be done.

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose, a form of sugar found in dairy products, is broken down in the digestive system by lactase, an enzyme produced in the small intestine. When the body has a deficiency in production of lactase, lactose can’t be digested properly, resulting in painful abdominal problems. This is known as lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is not the same as being allergic to milk products although they are often confused. Lactose intolerance generally does not develop until later in life, unlike milk allergies which are common in infancy.

What are the Symptoms?

Not all people who are lactose intolerant have noticeable symptoms, but for some they can be quite severe. Symptoms occur about 30 minutes after consuming milk products and can include gas, abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea and nausea.

Getting Enough Calcium

The solution to lactose intolerance sounds like a simple one; those suffering from it need only stop consuming dairy products to avoid the symptoms. This is true, but unfortunately dairy products are the best source of calcium in our diets. When you are pregnant, calcium becomes even more important than ever, and your need for it increases. This can make it even more difficult to obtain enough from non-dairy sources.

It might be difficult, but it’s not impossible to get enough calcium, especially with some help from fortified foods. Many juices, especially orange juice, are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. The vitamin D is important because it helps your body to absorb the calcium. Read the label to make sure your choice contains both. Leafy green vegetables and some fish can also be good sources of calcium. Soy milk is a good replacement for cow’s milk that can also provide your body with calcium.

Some people with lactose intolerance use special medications that allow the body to digest lactose. These are generally considered to be safe during pregnancy, but as with any medication, it should be discussed with your doctor first.

Concerns About the Baby

Luckily, lactose intolerance in the mother is not likely to do any damage to the baby, as long as you make sure to find enough calcium sources to make up for not eating dairy products. Lactose intolerance does seem to have a genetic link, which means there is a possibility you could pass it on to the baby. It won’t likely affect the baby until later in life, however, but you should consider breastfeeding as opposed to milk-based formulas as a precaution.

Premature babies are considered to be at a higher risk for lactose intolerance, so if you want to protect your baby as best you can, take every possible precaution to avoid a premature delivery.

As long as you get enough calcium to support the baby as well as your own body during pregnancy, no matter what the source, lactose intolerance won’t be detrimental to your pregnancy. There is no reason you can’t have a perfectly normal and healthy pregnancy, and a very healthy baby!

Food Aversions in Pregnancy

Many pregnant women will experience some sort of food aversion. Sometimes the aversion is so strong that the woman can not even stand the sight or smell of the food in question. Just like cravings, aversions generally occur in the first trimester, although the dislike of the food in question may continue well into the pregnancy, the response should become milder.

Aversions are normal, and generally can be blamed on the hormones that are running wild in a pregnant woman’s body, especially in that first trimester. While they are nothing to worry about, they do often cause pregnant women to miss out on foods that provide much-needed nutrition. If you are experiencing an aversion to a healthy food, or even an entire food group, you don’t have to choke it down. Just make sure you fill the nutritional gap in your diet with other healthy foods that supply the same nutrients.

Some of the most common food aversions are to foods like dairy, eggs, meat, and green vegetables. These are all important to a healthy and balanced pregnancy diet. Fortunately, with a little effort you can replace the nutrients found in these foods with other choices.

Skipping the Dairy Case

If it’s just milk you can’t stand, you have a number of other dairy choices to fill the void, such as cheese and yogurt. But if your aversion extends to all things made with milk, you will have to turn to some other foods to make up the difference. Hopefully you aren’t also turned off by leafy green vegetables such as spinach, as they are a great source of calcium. You can also choose calcium-fortified orange juice, and add a supplement just to be safe.

Temporarily Vegetarian

Meat is a very common culprit in food aversions, but it’s also an important source of protein and iron. If it’s just red meat, turn to poultry and fish. If you can’t bear those either, you can meet your needs by adding legumes, beans, and soy products to your diet. Again, an iron supplement might be a good idea, since it is such a vital nutrient during pregnancy. You might also find an aversion to eggs accompanies your dislike of meat, but if not, they are a great source of protein as well.

Turning Green

When those healthy green vegetables are the last thing you want to think about putting into your mouth, you are unfortunately missing out on a great source of nutrition. Make up for them by eating a wide variety of the fruits and veggies you can stomach. You can also try hiding the greens in other foods. Add finely chopped greens to pasta sauces or soups, and you probably won’t even realize they are there. If you can’t trick yourself, ask someone else to do it for you. If you don’t know where the offensive food is hidden, you might not be so bothered by it.

Food aversions can be annoying, especially when they involve foods you may have really enjoyed prior to your pregnancy. The good news is they will likely fade as the pregnancy progresses. As long as you make smart changes to your diet to replace the nutrients from the foods you can’t stand, your food aversions will remain just an annoyance and not a problem for your baby.

Healthy Snacks to Beat Afternoon Hunger

When afternoon hunger strikes and you are stuck at work, it can be all too easy to turn to a vending machine full of junk food. When you are pregnant, however, it becomes even more vital that you avoid the urge and turn to a healthy snack instead. If you plan ahead and have a convenient, delicious and nutrient-packed snack handy, you will find it much easier to skip the junk.

When you are planning for your afternoon snack at work, try to choose a snack that will keep you full until dinner. Include protein and fiber, and avoid snacks that provide only simple carbs. A snack high in sugar will not keep you feeling full for long, and may cause a crash that will contribute to that afternoon feeling of fatigue. So skip that tempting chocolate bar and go for one of these snack options instead. They will give you sustained energy that lasts for the rest of your work day, and won’t have you looking for another snack.

Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Snacks that include fruits and veggies are a great option. They are portable, healthy, and when combined with the right foods can provide the fiber and protein combination that will prevent you from being hungry again in an hour.

Try apple or pear slices with a cup of low fat vanilla yogurt for dipping. The yogurt will provide the protein, while apples and pears are high in fiber and lower in sugar than some other fruits. Many grocery stores sell pre-sliced apples which can be very convenient if you are short on time.

Pair celery sticks with peanut butter for a tasty, crunchy snack. The peanut butter provides both fiber and protein, a double benefit. You can also enjoy other fresh veggies such as carrots and broccoli along with your celery for more nutrition and more filling fiber.

Go Nuts

Instead of cheese and crackers, pair a few slices of cheese with a handful of nuts like almonds for a satisfying snack that will keep you going until dinner. A trail mix that combines dried fruits with nuts is another perfect afternoon snack. Make up a batch at home and then divide it into small plastic bags. They will be easy to grab on the go, and also make sure that you don’t overeat – this type of snack makes it all too easy to keep eating!

Use some caution when choosing nuts however, as some that have been salted may contain high levels of sodium.

Choose Whole Grains

A whole grain bagel, English muffin, or even toast topped with peanut or almond butter is another great afternoon snack choice. These foods aren’t just good for breakfast! Any of them will provide lots of fiber, and once again peanut butter comes to the rescue to add flavor and protein.

Another great snack mix idea: mix together a whole grain cereal like Cheerios with some raisins and low-salt pretzels for a delicious combination of flavors that will kill your afternoon hunger quickly.

Keep some of these snack options ready at your desk at all times. Those that don’t require refrigeration are easy to keep handy so you can reach for one even if hunger hits when you are too busy to leave your desk. Smart snacking will keep your body fueled throughout the day and avoid empty calories.

Gestational Diabetes and Your Diet

Around the end of the second trimester, a glucose tolerance test will be performed on most pregnant women to check for signs of gestational diabetes. This form of diabetes affects only pregnant women, and while relatively rare, is serious for both mom and baby. Luckily, it is not difficult to control with the proper diet and monitoring.

The Basics of Gestational Diabetes

Having gestational diabetes does not mean there is any reason to suspect that you had diabetes prior to pregnancy, or that you will continue to have problems afterwards. Although no one is certain what exactly causes it, there is reason to believe that hormones from the placenta may cause insulin resistance. This is a condition where the action of insulin in the blood to work on glucose and turn it into energy is blocked, leaving high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. This results in hyperglycemia.

The extra glucose in your blood will cross the placenta and enter the baby’s blood. This causes the baby’s pancreas to secrete more insulin in response. High insulin levels in newborns have been linked to breathing problems and a higher likelihood of obesity later in life. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are often larger than average, as they have received too much energy in the form of glucose.

How to Treat Gestational Diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, one of the first things your doctor will recommend is a major overhaul of your diet. You will require a special eating plan, and will probably be told to monitor your blood sugar levels. Although you should discuss your new meal plan with your doctor, there are some general recommendations to follow to eat right and control the symptoms of gestational diabetes.

What to Eat

Glucose levels in your blood are directly related to the foods you eat. The foods that cause the highest levels of glucose are carbohydrates, so any woman diagnosed with gestational diabetes will have to be very careful about eating the right carbs. You shouldn’t give up carbs altogether – this isn’t healthy for you or your baby. But you will need to get your carbs from the right sources.

Skip simple carbs, especially anything high in sugar. Instead, choose the complex carbs found in whole grain foods. These will break down more slowly in your body and prevent spikes in blood glucose that can be caused from fast-acting sugars and refined carbs. Be sure to balance your intake of carbs throughout the day. Avoid having a large amount at one meal; instead, spread your intake out over several meals.

Another thing to remember is that you should eat throughout the day. Don’t skip meals or snacks. Eating regularly keeps a steady level of energy and prevents urges to overeat or eat the wrong things due to hunger.

Although it may be tempting to switch to artificial sweeteners to fill the gap left by the sugar in your diet, try not to give in. Not all artificial sweeteners are safe during pregnancy, and even those generally thought to be ok simply don’t have enough research behind them to be absolutely certain of their safety.

The restrictions of a gestational diabetes diet are not always easy to follow, but remember that you are doing it for your baby’s health. Also bear in mind that it will not be forever; you only have to continue with the diet until the end of your pregnancy, at which point the gestational diabetes will be at an end.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

In addition to planning your diet carefully to include all the healthy foods you need, you should also be aware of which foods are not considered safe for consumption during pregnancy.

The main reason for a food to be listed as unsafe is bacteria, which could cause serious illness or worse in your baby. Some foods are also linked to birth defects, so make sure these are off your shopping list for the duration of your pregnancy.

Listeria and Salmonella in Foods

One of the most dangerous bacteria for your unborn baby is listeria. This common bacterium is unlikely to harm a grown adult, but for your tiny fetus, it can be lethal. Salmonella is dangerous to both you and the baby, but while you would likely survive a bout with it, your baby might not. Avoid foods that might contain listeria or salmonella, such as:

  • Any food containing unpasteurized milk, such as soft cheeses. Some soft cheeses are made with pasteurized milk – check the label carefully.
  • Any food containing raw eggs, unless the eggs were pasteurized. This can be trickier than you think. Foods that contain raw eggs include some ceasar salad dressings, buttercream frosting and mayonnaise. If the label does not say the eggs were pasteurized, avoid it. Don’t order these foods in restaurants even if the waiter says there are no raw eggs – he could be wrong. If you wish to make these foods yourself, choose pasteurized eggs.
  • Deli meats have been known to be contaminated with listeria. If you wish to consume deli meats, you should heat them until they are steaming to kill off any bacteria. Some doctors now say deli meats, even unheated, are safe as long as they are purchased from a deli with a high turn around so that meat is not sitting long. You should consume deli meats as soon as they are purchased for safety.
  • Pate can also be contaminated with listeria, so avoid it as well.

Fish: What Is Safe and What Is Not

Fish can be an important part of a healthy diet, providing you with a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as many other nutritional benefits. There can be dangers in fish consumption during pregnancy, however, so use caution. Watch out for these dangers when choosing fish:

  • Some fish can be very high in mercury, such as shark and swordfish, and should be avoided. Fish that contain lower levels of mercury, such as tuna, are safe to eat as long as you consume them in moderation.
  • Sushi containing raw fish should be avoided entirely.
  • Smoked seafood options, such as lox, which are purchased from a deli are in danger of listeria contamination, and should be avoided.

Caffeine and Alcohol

While there is some debate as to what is a safe amount of caffeine during pregnancy, there is absolutely no argument that alcohol is unsafe. Currently, there is not considered to be any safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy, especially during the vital first trimester. Some doctors may tell you it’s ok to have a small glass of red wine towards the end of your pregnancy, but you are better off skipping it altogether.

Caffeine in moderate amounts is generally viewed as safe, but new studies have linked caffeine intake during the first trimester with miscarriage. Again, it’s best to err on the side of caution and skip the caffeine altogether. If you really need that boost in the morning, keep it to one cup of coffee, but wait until the second trimester when the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically.

Understanding Calories

We have all heard the phrase “counting calories”, and most of us are aware that the number of calories we ingest is directly related to maintaining a healthy weight. But what exactly is a calorie? How do they affect our weight and health? And how can we tell how many calories we need? Understanding how calories work isn’t all that complicated, if you break it down to a simple explanation.

What Are Calories?

A calorie is a measurement of energy. Foods contain energy, and this is passed into our bodies when we consume them, for our bodies to burn and use to keep us going. Although the word calorie has come to have a negative connotation in our weight-conscious society, the fact is that we all require calories in order to live. The energy calories provide to our bodies is used to perform basic functions like keeping the heart pumping. We also need that energy just to perform daily tasks, from showering to housework to walking the dog. All of these activities burn calories.

The Effect of Calories on Weight and Health

Simply put, when we consume more calories than our bodies are burning, we gain weight. This means that a person who leads a very active lifestyle can generally consume more calories than a sedentary person, because the calories are being burned.

You may have come across the expression “empty calories”. While it is true that a calorie is a calorie as far as the amount of energy it contains, some calories are “empty” nutritionally. Foods that are high in calories but low on vitamins and minerals may provide energy to the body, but without the nutrients, they aren’t helping to keep the body healthy. By choosing most of your daily calorie intake in the form of nutrient-rich foods, you can ensure that every calorie you ingest has value to your body.

A high calorie food is not necessarily a bad thing, if it is providing your body with necessary nutrition, and it is eaten in moderation. Still, foods that are both low calorie and nutrient dense, such as leafy green vegetables, are the staples of a healthy diet. Because they are providing a lot of important vitamins and minerals with few calories, they can be consumed in larger quantities. Filling up on this type of food will help to maintain a healthy weight.

How Many Calories Are Needed?

How many calories a person needs varies greatly and is dependent on a number of factors. Age, gender, and lifestyle all determine how many calories are required. Special circumstances such as pregnancy and lactation will also change the body’s caloric requirements. Your metabolic rate – or how fast your body burns calories, is influenced by all these things. Men tend to have a faster metabolism than women. As we age, especially past 40, the metabolism slows and can not burn calories as quickly or efficiently.

If you live an active lifestyle and are at a healthy weight, you are probably consuming the correct number of calories already. However, if you are overweight, or are struggling to lose weight, chances are you are taking in too many calories for the amount of exercise you are getting. Reducing calorie intake or increasing physical activity will balance things out.

If your diet consists of healthy foods that are mainly low calorie and high in nutrients, you are probably on the right track.

Maintaining a healthy weight requires an understating of how the calories you take in affect your body’s function. Finding the right balance for you might take a little time, but it will result in a healthier body.

Caffeine and Pregnancy

Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant in the country, and a good number of us enjoy a cup of something hot and caffeinated every morning to start our day. The use of caffeine during pregnancy is a controversial topic; most health practitioners believe a small amount of caffeine is acceptable, while others will say avoiding it entirely is the best course of action. Whether you believe in the some or none approach, everyone is in agreement that large amounts of caffeine during pregnancy are dangerous.

What Does Caffeine Do to Your Body?

Caffeine is both a stimulant and a diuretic. This means that it causes you to feel alert, can slightly elevate blood pressure as well as heart rate, and also causes fluids to leave the body through increased urination. Caffeine can cause a jittery feeling and cause sleep disruptions, especially if used in large amounts. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others, and pregnant women are among them.

Caffeine and Miscarriage

A recent study showed that women who consume 200 mg or more of caffeine every day (about the amount in a large cup of coffee) carry a 50% higher risk of miscarriage than those who do not. Previous studies, however, have found no relationship between caffeine and miscarriage. Although the results of these studies have been conflicting, there is enough evidence to suggest that a risk of miscarriage may exist. This risk is especially high in the first trimester, so if you don’t wish to avoid caffeine through the entire pregnancy, it’s a good idea to at least skip it during those crucial early weeks. High amounts of caffeine in the diet have also been linked to stillbirth.

Effects of Caffeine on the Fetus

Caffeine does cross the placenta, and this means it reaches the baby. Research indicates that caffeine does restrict blood flow to the placenta, which could impact the baby. It has also been linked with lower birth weights, and a higher heart rate in the newborn baby.

What Foods Contain the Most Caffeine?

Caffeine occurs naturally in some foods and beverages, and is added to others. Coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa beans are all natural sources of caffeine. Coffee is by far the highest in caffeine content. The average 8 oz cup of coffee contains about 137 mg of caffeine, but this amount can vary widely depending on the type of coffee and how it was brewed. The same goes from tea, which contains about 48 mg of caffeine in an 8 oz cup. Generally, the stronger your cup of coffee or tea, the higher the caffeine content.

Soft drinks that have been caffeinated contain 37 mg of caffeine per 12 oz serving on average. Some of these beverages may contain higher or lower amounts. Chocolate contains caffeine in varying amounts depending on how dark the chocolate is (the percentage of cocoa solids).

The general consensus on caffeine in pregnancy is that it is probably safe in small amounts. Stick to one cup of coffee a day or the equivalent amount of caffeine from other sources. It’s best to avoid caffeine in the first trimester if you can, but after that you are probably safe to continue moderate consumption. Still, if you prefer to be cautious, skip the caffeine altogether. If you do choose to consume caffeine, remember to drink extra water as well, to make up for the diuretic effect of the caffeine on your system.

Satisfying Food Cravings Safely

Most women at some point in their pregnancy will suddenly feel an incredible craving for some type of food. Whether it’s ice cream or pickles, or both as the old pregnancy tale goes, the urge to get some of what you want right away can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult to ignore.

Most food cravings are entirely harmless. If you really want something sweet or a salty snack, it’s ok to have one. There are a few caveats to this, of course. Simply put, the answer to the question of whether it’s ok to satisfy a food craving is that it depends what you are craving.

Remember Moderation

If you are craving something not particularly healthful, such as potato chips or a chocolate bar, it won’t hurt if you give in. However, if you start to crave that type of food all the time and consume it regularly, you will be replacing healthy foods with those lacking in nutrition and high in fat. Satisfy that sweet tooth or that need for salt, but do so within reason. Don’t eat the whole bag of chips or the whole tub of ice cream. You probably only need a small amount to make that craving go away, and you really won’t feel very good afterwards if you over-do it.

Of course, if you happen to be craving healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, eat as much as you would like! Just be sure to vary your choices to get a range of nutrients in your diet.

The best way to deal with a craving for a food that is less than healthy is to wait it out. Most cravings will go away if you distract yourself and force your body to wait before you give in. If you wait and the craving doesn’t fade, the next best solution is to try to find a food that is similar but a little healthier. If you are craving French fries, try baked sweet potato fries instead. Try to satisfy a desire for potato chips with a baked snack cracker. If you really must have chocolate, choose a small amount of dark chocolate, which contains healthy anti-oxidants. Use caution with chocolate, however, as it does contain caffeine.

Cravings for Strange, Unhealthy Things

Some women suffer from cravings for very unusual things during pregnancy. This is known as pica. Women may find themselves craving completely inedible things such as dirt, bleach, or soap. There is a great deal of speculation and discussion on what causes pica, but the jury is still out. It is possible that it may be linked to mineral deficiencies such as low iron. It goes without saying that you can’t give in to these cravings. If they become bothersome, contact your doctor.

If you are craving something not quite so strange but still not advisable for consumption during pregnancy such as alcohol or sushi, you will likely have to do your best to ignore it. You can try the above advice and have a substitute, such as dealcoholized wine, or sushi that does not contain raw fish. Unfortunately, if this doesn’t work, you are going to have to tough it out. It isn’t worth the danger of consuming something that could harm your baby.

The good news is, giving in to most normal pregnancy cravings won’t harm the baby, as long as you eat junk foods in small amounts and try to find healthy alternatives that will satisfy the craving while keeping your pregnancy diet on track.

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