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Now that your pregnancy is over, you can finally gobble up those foods you have been staying away from, right? You are no longer ‘eating for two’, correct? Unfortunately, as much as we want to get excited and give a hyper ‘Yes!’, the reality is not as easy as that.
To be fair, you are not entirely wrong, but you are not all in the right as well. You are still eating for your baby and recovering well. If you choose to breastfeed your baby, that is all the more reason to watch what you eat during postpartum confinement, as some of your foods can find their way into breast milk.
Hence, no matter what, you just have to be careful. After you have given birth, take your time to heal and recuperate. The period after childbirth is always a delicate phase for new mothers. You have lost a lot of blood and energy, which you should slowly take your time to revive.
Perhaps like yourself, many mothers in Singapore usually go through a one-month confinement period where they have to adhere to certain diets and practices. If you plan your diet properly, the best confinement food taken during this time can even help in restoring your body to its pre-pregnancy state and aid in your breast milk production.
Your Diet and Breast Milk
The simple truth is almost everything that you eat can be transferred to your little one through breast milk. Therefore, for the sake of your baby and yourself, you should continue to watch your confinement food menu closely even after delivery. Remember, a mother in confinement should avoid any food that may have any detrimental effect on her health and that of the baby. The best gift you could give to your newborn is a mother who takes care of herself and produces quality milk.
The question of what food to avoid during breastfeeding can be pretty confusing to answer, especially because it is hard to say in black and white that some foods are good while the rest are bad. Rather, it mostly depends on your habit of consuming them. At the end of the day, having too much of anything can be bad.
Regardless, just for you to keep a lookout on your confinement diet, here is a list of food to avoid during confinement:
Fishes with High Mercury Content
Mercury is a very poisonous element. It has no known safe limit of exposure and is most typically found in contaminated water.
It can be hazardous to your neurological system, immunological system, and kidneys at large levels. It can also cause major developmental issues in children, with negative consequences even at moderate doses.
Large marine fish can acquire a lot of mercury. As a result, it’s advised to avoid eating high-mercury seafood when pregnant or nursing.
Avoid eating high-mercury seafood such as:
- king mackerel
- tuna (especially bigeye tuna)
It is crucial to remember, however, that not all fish are rich in mercury – just specific varieties are.
Consuming low-mercury fish during pregnancy is safe and beneficial. The Food and Drug Administration recommends eating these fish up to three times each week (FDA).
There are several low-mercury fishes to choose from, including:
- trout (freshwater)
Fatty fish, including salmon and anchovies, are particularly ideal choices since they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your kid.
Speaking of fishies, that brings us next to number 2 on our list:
This one will be difficult for you sushi enthusiasts, but it is crucial. Raw seafood, particularly shellfish, can cause a variety of diseases. These infections can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic, such as Vibrio, Salmonella, and Listeria.
Some of these illnesses are specific to you, causing dehydration and weakness. Other infections might be passed on to your kid, resulting in serious, even deadly, effects.
Pregnant women are more vulnerable to listeria infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women are up to ten times more likely than the general population to become contaminated with Listeria.
This bacterium is found in soil, polluted water, and plants. Raw fish can get contaminated during processing, such as smoking or drying.
Listeria bacteria can be transferred to your baby through the placenta even if you are not sick. According to the CDC, this can result in premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, and other major health concerns.
It is strongly suggested to avoid raw fish and shellfish, which include many sushi meals. But don’t worry, you’ll appreciate it much more once the baby is delivered and it’s okay to eat again.
Hold on to your chairs, people; the raw food train does not stop there. For lovers of rare meat or processed meats, beware too:
Raw and/or processed meat
Some of the same concerns that exist with raw fish also exist with undercooked beef. Consuming raw or undercooked meat raises your risk of infection from a variety of bacteria or parasites, including Toxoplasma, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.
Bacteria can endanger your child’s health, perhaps leading to stillbirth or serious neurological disorders such as intellectual impairment, blindness, and epilepsy.
While the majority of germs are located on the surface of complete chunks of meat, some bacteria may stay within muscle fibres.
Meat patties, burgers, minced meat, pig, and fowl should never be ingested uncooked or undercooked. So, for the time being, keep those burgers well done on the grill.
Hot dogs, lunch meat, and deli meat are also a source of risk, which might be shocking to pregnant women. Various germs can contaminate certain types of meat during preparation or storage. Thus, pregnant women should limit eating processed beef products and ensure that it had been thoroughly reheated until piping hot before consumption.
Caffeine & Alcohol
It is strongly suggested to avoid consuming alcohol while pregnant since it raises the chance of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even a modest quantity might have an adverse effect on your baby’s brain development.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can also result in foetal alcohol syndrome, which causes facial abnormalities, heart issues, and intellectual incapacity.
Because no dose of alcohol has been demonstrated to be safe during pregnancy, it is best to avoid it entirely.
As for caffeine, you might be one of the millions of people who like a daily cup of coffee, tea, soft drink, or chocolate. When it comes to our love of coffee, you’re not alone.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, pregnant women should limit their caffeine use to fewer than 200 milligrammes (mg) per day (ACOG).
Caffeine is quickly absorbed and easily goes into the placenta. Because newborns and their placentas lack the primary enzyme required to metabolise caffeine, excessive quantities can accumulate.
So keep an eye on your daily cup of joe or soda to ensure your baby doesn’t get too much caffeine.
Cold & Raw Foods
Cold and raw foods are said to introduce ‘wind’ into your body, which may later cause gas problems or other serious health issues. The actual effect may not be as bad as it sounds, but mothers have practised staying away from this type of food for a long time.
What are some examples of cold food? They may be cold and raw vegetables such as cabbage, watercress, and cucumbers which you would see less often in food for confinement mothers. It is believed that your stomach and spleen are in the recovery process at this point, so these types of foods may slow down the healing process and cause bloating.
If you do choose to avoid such foods, it does not mean you get a pass on your vegetables. It is important to still ensure adequate vegetable intake, which is at least 2 servings of vegetables per day. In traditional Chinese medicine, cooked vegetables are preferred for pregnant mothers as cooked vegetables are normally either neutral or warm in nature, thus suitable for many mothers who are pregnant to still practice a balanced diet.
Hot and Spicy Foods
If you love hot chilli peppers but experiencing heartburn or stomach pains, then it is time to say goodbye to them for a few months. Spicy food is delicious but is highly likely to cause stomach discomfort and other problems. Straining to have a bowel movement is the last thing any mother would need especially if you have wounds in your perineal area.
Highly Processed Foods
Highly processed foods are often high in salt, fat and sugar. They may provide excessive calories without substantial essential nutrients like what whole foods would give us to support our health. Thus, frequent intake of highly processed foods may promote excessive weight gain yet fail to provide adequate micronutrients which are essential to promote wound recovery, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Copper, Iron and Zinc. Excessive salt intake from such foods would also possibly promote water retention. Mothers are not necessarily encouraged to reduce salt intake, but where in excess, it should be avoided as part of a healthy diet.
Milk, cheese, and fruit juice
Alright, we admit, the title may be a tad misleading. What we mean by this is specifically raw milk, unpasteurized cheese, and soft-ripened cheeses can all include hazardous germs such as Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter (These guest stars are starting to seem familiar huh?).
The same is true for unpasteurized juice, which can potentially be contaminated with germs. All of these illnesses have the potential to be fatal to an unborn child.
Bacteria can arise spontaneously or as a result of contamination during collection or storage. Pasteurisation is the most effective method of killing dangerous germs while preserving the nutritional content of the items. Unless it is made with good hygiene practices at home and freshly made, it is best to avoid those that are “freshly made” at hawkers, coffee shops and supermarkets.
To clarify, you can consume milk, cheese, and fruit juice, but be sure to eat only “pasteurised” milk, cheese, and fruit juice to reduce the chance of illness.
If you wish to recover fast and boost your immunity, you can try to stay away from these foods during confinement. At this point, after the delivery, your body is highly susceptible to bacteria and germs, so paying attention to the confinement food you eat to avoid food that can irritate your body and actually avoiding them can prevent severe infection or delayed healing.
Of course, this will also be extremely useful when you have to plan up your confinement menu. Having said everything, the key is to take everything moderately. As long as the foods are consumed in moderation, the claimed ‘negative effects’ should be minimal, and it is, after all, still important for you to have a balanced diet during your confinement period.
If you have been wondering about food to avoid during breastfeeding Singapore mothers often follow, we hope we have helped you with it through this blog!