Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy

Consumption during Pregnancy

Will the bottle of champagne I shared with my husband on the night we conceived our baby be harmful?

Put this night of celebration behind you and stop feeling guilty. Binge drinking or regular abuse of alcohol when you are pregnant can cause birth defects, but an isolated episode of too much champagne probably has not harmed your unborn baby.

Heavy drinking, including binges or daily use, is especially associated with congenital defects. Babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) show retarded growth, have central nervous system problems, and characteristic facial features, including a small head, a thin upper lip, a short upturned nose, a flattened nasal bridge and a general underdeveloped look of the face. Because of the critical nervous system involvement, many show tremulousness, can't suck, are hyperactive, have abnormal muscle tone, and are later diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as well as mental retardation.

Relying on alcohol out of habit or cravings can also end your pregnancy abruptly. Heavy to moderate drinkers seem to experience a higher incidence of miscarriage in the second trimester, as well as problems with the placenta. Other complications linked to alcohol use are congenital heart defects, brain abnormalities, spinal and limb defects, and urinary and genital problems.

Can sugar substitutes cause problems during pregnancy?

The Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that aspartame and saccharin are safe, but unless you have diabetes and need to control your sugar intake, there is no good reason to consume artificial sweeteners. To be safe, limit diet drinks to one a day. However, if you are pregnant and are disgnosed with hyperphenylalanine (high levels of the amino acid phenylalanine—a component of aspartame—in your bloodstream), you should stop using the product immediately, as excessive levels of this amino acid can cause brain damage. People with the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU) or advanced liver disease should also avoid aspartame.

My doctor recommends lots of iron, but it makes me feel nauseated. What should I do?

Take iron-rich prenatal vitamin supplements between meals with plenty of water or along with a fruit juice rich in vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of iron. Avoid drinking milk, coffee, or tea with your iron supplements because these beverages inhibit iron absorption. Add liver, red meat, fish, poultry, enriched breads and cereals, green leafy vegetables, eggs, and dried fruits to your diet to increase dietary iron.

What kings of food cravings are normal?

Many pregnant women crave sweet or salty foods. Cravings for non-food items such as dirt, soap, ash, or coffee grounds are different. A phenomenon called pica, which has shown up in medical literature since the sixth century, results in strange cravings that can cause serious problems for a pregnant mother and her un-born baby.

If you have a craving to eat clay, ashes, laundry starch, or other unusual substances, seek medical attention right away.

Will eating too much sugar during pregnancy lead to gestational diabetes?

No, eating too much sugar does not directly cause any type of diabetes. Diabetes is a disorder in which the body cannot properly utilize insulin or does not produce insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Gestational diabetes is the result of changing hormones within a woman's body.

Is it OK to take a calcium supplement if I don't eat dairy foods?

If you can't get enough calcium from the foods you choose, a supplement can be a good idea. The rule of thumb should always be food before supplements, though. First, include calcium-containing foods in your diet as much as possible, and then supplement on top of that. Never let a supplement take the place of an entire food group or nutrient such as calcium.

Is it unhealthy to have an aversion to vegetables during my first trimester?

It is common for women to have food aversions even to healthy foods such as vegetables. Try drinking vegetable juice instead of eating whole vegetables. You can also eat more fruit, since many of them contain some of the same nutrients as vegetables. Keep taking your prenatal vitamins to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients that your body needs at this time. However, it's always best to get your nutrients from food before supplements. If you have a temporary aversion to a healthy food, make substitutions. If you're not sure what to substitute, be sure to speak to a dietitian.

excerpted from:

From Everything Pregnancy Organizer Copyright © 2007, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.

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