Friday, July 12, 2013

Garbh Sanskar: Pregnancy Health Guidelines

We’d all be hard-pressed to find a pregnant woman who doesn’t want what’s best for their unborn baby. And I think we’d all agree that we try to take the best care of ourselves when pregnant – even more so than any other time in our lives.

Yoga:Yoga can seriously help alleviate prenatal stress, and is a favorite form of exercise among many expecting moms. But be careful with what poses you do, because not all are safe.

Dieting During Pregnancy is Harmful:Dieting during pregnancy can "starve" your unborn baby of vital nutrients.


Eating at a restaurant, cafeteria, or a fast food place can be an enjoyable experience. But, because you're pregnant, you need to take special care that the food served to you is safe. During pregnancy, your immune system is weakened, which makes it harder for your body to fight off harmful foodborne microorganisms that cause foodborne illness.

Since women’s immune systems are more fragile during pregnancy, we become more susceptible to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause food-born illnesses

  • Soft CHEESES made from unpasteurized milk: check the label and make sure that the cheese is made from pasteurized milk.
  • Drink pasteurized juice
  • Drink pasteurized milk.
  • Make salads at home, following the food safety basics: clean, separate, and cook
  • Cook sprouts thoroughly: Bacteria can get into the sprout seeds through cracks in the shell before the sprouts are grown. Once this occurs, these bacteria are nearly impossible to wash out. Check sandwiches and salads. They may often contain raw sprouts. Request that raw sprouts not be added to your food.
  • Cook eggs until yolks are firm.
  • Dangerous to use contaminated knives, utensils, cutting boards, and other foods that have had contact with raw food. Rinse or wash thoroughly with hot water
  • Heating foods to the right temperature for the proper amount of time will kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
Why are pregnant women at high risk?
  • You and your growing fetus are at high risk from some foodborne illnesses because during pregnancy your immune system is weakened, which makes it harder for your body to fight off harmful foodborne microorganisms.
  • Your unborn baby's immune system is not developed enough to fight off harmful foodborne microorganisms.
  • For both mother and baby, foodborne illness can cause serious health problems - or even death.

Most people realize the importance of eating a healthful diet full of nutrients during pregnancy for the health of both the mother and the unborn baby. However, far fewer realize that pregnant women and their fetuses are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses, such as Listeriosis.

Listeria:What it is:A harmful bacterium that can grow at refrigerator temperatures where most other foodborne bacteria do not. It causes an illness called listeriosis.

Listeriosis is a disease caused by a bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, which is found commonly in soil, water, and plants and can contaminate foods. Even when the mother has no symptoms of illness, this disease can be transmitted through the placenta to the unborn baby. If contracted early in pregnancy, Listeriosis may cause miscarriage. If a pregnant woman contracts it late in her pregnancy, (which is more likely since the woman's immune system is weakened in the third trimester), the disease may result in premature labor, a low-weight infant, or stillbirth. Listeria differs from most bacteria since it grows well in refrigerated temperatures. To avoid Listeriosis, it is best that pregnant women  to avoid the following foods:


  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and dairy products
  • Any food made with unpasteurized milk
  • Soft cheeses
  • Check to see your refrigerator temperature registers 40 degrees F or below and the freezer at 0 degrees F.
  • pre-cut fruit & fruit salads
  • Scrub fruits and vegetables under cold, running water. Avoid refrigerated ready-to-eat foods, such as salads that are not cooked before eating, unless you know they were handled safely. One can get sick from 2 to 30 days after eating food. Pregnant women can experience early labor if the infection spreads to the unborn baby, so tell your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms: fever, headache, upset stomach, or vomiting.

    Toxoplasma:What it is: A harmful parasite. It causes an illness called toxoplasmosis that can be difficult to detect.
    Where it's found: Raw and undercooked meal; unwashed fruits and vegetables.

    Toxoplasmosis can be difficult to detect. However, symptoms typically include: swollen glands, fever, headache, muscle pain, or a stiff neck. Only 10% of women infected with the parasite have noticeable symptoms - so you could have toxoplasmosis without even being aware that you're ill. If you do experience any of the above symptoms, see your doctor or health-care provider immediately.

    Important and serious advice: Don't keep a cat in your home while you're pregnant.

    Although it’s really important to eat fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding, you need to be careful about which fish you choose. That’s because some fish may contain mercury levels that may harm an unborn baby.


    Don’t forget to remember once again: Folic Acid is your super hero in Pregnancy

    Remember the golden rules of food safety:

    Keep it cold

    • Keep the fridge below 5oC
    • Put any food that needs to be kept cold in the fridge straight away
    • Don’t eat food that’s meant to be in the fridge if it’s been left out for two hours or more 

    Keep it hot

    • Cook foods until they’re steaming hot
    • Reheat foods until they’re steaming hot

    Keep it clean

    • Wash and dry hands thoroughly before starting to prepare or eat any food, even a snack
    • Keep chairs, kitchen equipment and tableware clean
    • Separate raw and cooked food and use different cutting boards and knives for each
    • Avoid eating food made by someone sick with something like diarrhoea

    Check the label

    • Don’t eat food past the use-by date
    • Note the best before date
    • Follow storage and cooking instructions
    • Ask for information about unpackaged foods

    It is important to filter your tap water to remove potentially harmful chlorine by-products. It’s also important to filter your tap water because there are certain naturally occurring substances such as arsenic, cadmium, iron, manganese and uranium that can leach into water. Heavy metals such as copper and lead can also make their way into tap water from pipes and holding tanks in the distribution system or from plumbing in your home.


    Exposure to lead during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, decrease your baby’s birth weight, and interfere with his/her brain and central nervous system.  The main source of lead is water fed through lead pipes or pipes with lead solder. To minimize your exposure to heavy metals in water, run your tap water for about two minutes in the morning or for at least 30 seconds before each use and/or use a water filter to filter tap water before drinking or cooking with it. You can also stick with purified bottled water during pregnancy if that’s easier. 

    I never encourage  especially pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to consume artificial sweeteners of any kind as they are usually replacing more nutritious foods and are not needed in the diet.

    Take care of your unborn baby.

    The sole purpose of these blogs is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained doctor/health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic expert, call us or e mail.

    Dr Unnati Chavda
    (Promoting pregnancy wellness)

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