Four Off-Limit Foods for New Moms-to-Be

Meals should be a pleasure during pregnancy, not a problem. But certain foods can be risky when you’re eating for two. For your baby’s safety, steer clear of the following foods when expecting, and always ask your doctor if you have any questions on what you should -- and shouldn’t -- eat .

Fish high in mercury. Eating fish is an important part of your pregnancy diet because much of it is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are super nutrients for your new baby’s brain development. But not every kind of fish is recommended. Some larger ones contain too much mercury, which can affect your baby’s nervous system. Steer clear of shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish. And limit safer varieties of fish to 12 ounces a week.

Some raw and undercooked foods. The risk with anything raw is that you may contract a case of food poisoning. While it’s rare for this illness to affect your new baby, it’s not pleasant to deal with, whether you’re pregnant or not. To be on the safe side, cook eggs, seafood, shellfish, meat, and chicken fully. Skip raw fish and shellfish, smoked fish, refrigerated pate, and raw sprouts like radish, mung bean, and alfalfa.

Unpasteurized cheese, milk, and juice. Unpasteurized products are off the menu when you’re expecting. Read labels carefully to be sure all milk and juice you drink has been pasteurized and the cheese you consume (especially soft varieties like Brie,  Camembert, and goat cheese,) is made with pasteurized, not raw, milk.

Deli meats. Listeriosis, a rather serious foodborne illness, is the concern for this category. It’s a good idea to avoid deli meats and hot dogs anyway as they aren’t a healthy choice (many are high in sodium). If you do indulge in deli items during pregnancy, be sure to heat all meats and franks until they are steaming.

Remember to practice good hygiene in the kitchen -- it’s smart whether you’re having a baby or not. Always wash your hands before preparing food or eating a meal, and wash produce well under running water, using a brush to scrub the outer layer of tough-skinned fruits and veggies. Knowing your diet is safe for your new baby will put any expectant mom at ease. Happy eating!

Nine Pregnancy Tips for Moms of Multiples

If you’re expecting multiples, t there are also some extra steps you’ll need to take while you’re pregnant to ensure that your little ones are healthy. Whether you’re having twins, triplets, or more, keep these nine pregnancy tips in mind.  

Pregnancy tip #1: Find out if you’re having fraternal or identical twins. If it’s the latter, your doctor will want to keep a closer eye on their development.

Pregnancy tip #2: Eat wisely. A healthy diet is a must to ensure a healthy birth weight, especially when you’re having multiples. Load up on fruits and veggies, since your growing babies need micronutrients like folic acid, iron, and vitamins, as well as lean proteins.

Pregnancy tip #3: Watch your weight. You may gain more weight when carrying twins as opposed to if you had a single pregnancy, but you’ll still need to monitor your weight and aim for a healthy mark. Talk to your doctor about what's appropriate for your situation.  

Pregnancy  tip #4: Drink up! For moms carrying multiples, dehydration can lead to preterm labor. Aim to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day.

Pregnancy tip #5: Don’t skip the supplements. If your health care provider recommends or prescribes prenatal vitamins and/or supplements, be sure to take them. Many women may need extra folic acid to help prevent birth defects.

Pregnancy tip #6: Spend time with the doctor. You’ll need a good amount of monitoring throughout your pregnancy if you’re carrying multiples, so be sure to stay on track with your doctor appointments.

Pregnancy tip #7: Know your risks. The chance of conditions such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are higher if you’re carrying multiples. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to minimize your risk.

Pregnancy tip #8: Be ready for an early labor. Women carrying twins tend to go into labor earlier (usually around the 35th to 37th week) than those carrying a single baby. Have your overnight bag packed and ready in case you need to head to the hospital earlier than expected.

Pregnancy tip #9: Talk to your doctor about your delivery plan. The chance of a cesarean is higher with multiples. Discuss your preferred birthing plan with your doctor, but be ready in case you need a cesarean for safety reasons.

While a multiples pregnancy may be a little trickier to navigate, just remember that more new babies means even more love and attention. All that care during pregnancy will help ensure a healthy and happy family.

Pregnancy Beauty Basics

When you’re pregnant, it’s not uncommon to want to make up for swollen ankles and other less desirable symptoms with a fresh face of make up and a new hair ‘do. But keep in mind that the ingredients in your beauty products, if absorbed into the skin, may reach the placenta and could pose a risk for your new baby. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on looking glam until post-birth. Just be sure to steer clear of the below, and, if in doubt of a product’s safety, ask your doctor.

Skip it: Hair dye Expecting new moms should try to avoid dying or chemically straightening their hair when pregnant, as the ammonia fumes could harm a new baby during the first three months of pregnancy. If you must change your color or touch up your roots, do so after the first trimester in a well ventilated space, and ask the stylist to avoid touching your scalp with the chemicals.

Skip it: Nail polish

The phthalates in nail polish have been linked to birth defects, so it’s best to wait until after the first trimester to get a manicure or pedicure, when the risk to your new baby is much lower. Acrylic nails should also be avoided when expecting. Need some color before then? Reach for a phthalate-free nail polish instead.

Skip it: Hairspray

Hairspray also contains phthalates, and considering you spray it by your face, it’s very easy to breathe it in. Instead, keep your hair in place with a mousse or gel during your pregnancy.

Skip it: Acne creams

Expecting new moms should avoid prescription acne medications, as they can increase the risk of birth defects. If pimples pop up during your pregnancy, try to use a gentle face wash and switch to oil-free makeup. If that doesn’t work, ask your doctor about what acne face washes may be safe for your new baby.

Skip it: Teeth whitening products

The jury is still our on whether the peroxide, the active ingredient in teeth whiteners, is safe during pregnancy, so it’s best to skip this one. If your pearly whites aren’t looking so, well, white, use a brightening toothpaste instead. And don’t forget to floss and brush regularly during pregnancy. Good dental hygiene is good for your smile and for your new baby’s health.

It’s not always easy for new moms-to-be to give up go-to beauty routines, but keep in mind that sporting your natural hair color or not-so-perfectly-white teeth is best for your new baby. For now, skip the scary stuff and wear your pregnancy glow instead.

Six Pregnancy Super Foods

You know you have to eat well when expecting -- this helps help ensure a healthy pregnancy and gives your baby’s development a boost. But which foods pack the biggest nutritional punch? And how can you easily include them in your roster of meals, mini-meals, and snacks? Here, a handy guide to super foods and healthy eating!

Eggs Protein is crucial for your new baby’s growth during the second and third trimesters, and eggs are an easy and inexpensive way to get a good dose. Hardboiled eggs make for a fast snack, while an over-easy egg on top of rice or stir-fry veggies can give the meal a protein boost.

Beans Fiber-full, protein-rich, and low in calories -- what’s not to love about beans? Whether you choose black, pinto, navy, or chickpeas, they’ll taste great in a quesadilla or sprinkled on salads and pasta dishes.

Sweet potatoes Regular potatoes are fine, but for some added vitamins A and C (which helps you absorb iron and helps ensure healthy gums for you and your new baby) pick the dark orange variety. Bake a couple until they are soft and top with low-fat Greek yogurt and chives, or slice sweet potatoes into edges and roast them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.

Salmon This fish delivers a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids , which can give your new baby’s developing brain a boost. Expectant new moms can enjoy 12 ounces of fish a week, so consider low- and no-mercury varieties like salmon, trout, and sardines. If cooking fresh fish doesn't appeal to you, opt for the canned varieties (try salmon salad on rye).

Nuts The healthy fats found in nuts can help foster your new baby’s brain development; walnuts, with their omega-3s , are particularly potent. Eat them whole or spread walnut butter on whole-wheat toast or slices of pear.

Low-fat dairy Calcium, protein, and vitamin D can be found in dairy aisle products, so stock up on skim milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Greek yogurt is an especially good pick because of the extra protein it offers.

Don’t be concerned if your pregnancy diet isn’t perfect all the time. Just try to work in a couple of these picks each day to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.

Smart Pregnancy Snacks for New Moms

Eating a wholesome, balanced diet is an important part of preparing for a new baby. And nutritious, delicious snacks should be a staple throughout the day. Experts say that eating small amounts of healthy foods can help prevent common complaints like queasiness and heartburn . Plus, reaching for the right kinds of snacks helps ensure that your new baby is getting enough of the nutrients for proper development. Consuming enough calcium, protein, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals should be a priority for both your meals and snacks. Here are some good snack choices for new moms-to-be:

Snack pick #1: Yogurt

Calcium is essential for the development of your little one’s bones and teeth. Try sprinkling plain low-fat yogurt with some fresh fruit for a sweet but healthy snack. If you can’t do dairy, you can get the calcium you need from calcium-fortified soy yogurt. These snacks will also boost your protein intake for the day, which helps to keep you sated until your next mommy mini-meal.

Snack pick #2: Peanut butter

Although moms-to-be need lots of protein throughout pregnancy, this nutrient is especially crucial in expectant moms’ diets during the second and third trimesters. The amino acids that make up protein are essential for building new cells in your babyduring this time of peak growth. Peanut butter is a tasty, convenient choice, whether you spread it on a slice of whole wheat bread, a rice cracker, a celery stick, or apple slices. Other good protein-rich snacks include leftover roast chicken, soy nuts, and black bean dip on tortilla chips.

Snack pick #3: Oranges

Having a baby is a major accomplishment, and you need to make sure your body stays strong throughout your pregnancy. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, staving off anemia, keeping your energy up, and ensuring a healthy birth weight for your new baby. Citrus fruit is a great source of vitamin C , but other star snacks include yellow bell pepper slices, kiwi, kale chips, dried papaya, and strawberries.

Planning ahead and stocking up on healthy snack foods helps ensure that a nutritious choice is always within arm’s reach. Think of your snacks as mini-meals; they should be just as nutrient-rich as your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s okay to indulge an unhealthy craving once in a while, but remember that the good choices you make now can help your new baby grow and thrive.