Most pregnant women realize that they are going to have to avoid alcohol until their child is born. Their unborn baby is affected by whatever they ingest and the risks of alcohol to the fetus are simply too large to ignore. However, there are non-alcoholic beverages that can also pose a risk to pregnant mothers, babies, or both. Here are three examples of drink categories that doctors and caregivers generally want women to skip in order to keep themselves and their baby as healthy as possible.
Beverages with caffeine
Caffeinated beverages have always been a huge support for anyone who needs an extra energy boost. Most people can’t get going without their morning cup of coffee. For people who find sleep is an extra commodity—and let’s face it, that can be most of us—caffeine is their rock to get through the day with energy and focus.
Pregnant women have lots of reasons for turning to the benefits of caffeine. They’re growing an entirely new human and they need extra energy to let their body do its work. They may be sleep-deprived due to their condition and want need to continue to be focused and functioning for their careers, for taking care of their other children, or just for life. They may be used to drinking caffeine in their pre-pregnancy days to get through a day without nodding of.
Unfortunately, there have been a number of documented negative effects of caffeine on pregnant women and their unborn babies. Most notably, doctors have found that babies can’t metabolize the substance as well as adults can and that caffeine affects their movement and sleep patterns. It can also contribute to sleep interruption in pregnant women and, because its a diuretic, can contribute to dehydration during a time in life when women want to stay as hydrated as they can. Lastly, some studies have shown the substance may contribute to birth defects, premature labor, low birth weight and other problems in tested animals.
Limiting caffeine can be more difficult than you’d think because it is everywhere, not just in coffee and tea. Luckily, doctors’ don’t advise giving up caffeine entirely. Caffeine in small or moderate amounts should be just fine. Talk to your doctor about what is best for your situation.
Untested tap water
Doctors advise pregnant women to stay as hydrated as possible. Their body is functioning at a heightened level to create new life, their circulatory and waste removal systems are expanding, and extra water simply makes everything work more smoothly. However, where women get their water from matters.
Pregnant women should take care to avoid any water source, including tap water, that they’re not sure of. Problems with tap water can be more common than you’d think. Surprisingly, the water can contain bacteria, lead, copper or other minerals from old plumbing. It can also contain agricultural runoff from ground contaminants, and excess chlorine from the water treatment process. For anyone drinking well water, there are a host of other issues that can affect the water supply.
Once you find out you’re pregnant, there are a couple of ways to verify the quality of the tap water you’re likely to drink most. If water comes from a larger-scale source, such as a municipal water provision program, they’ve tested their water and they send an annual report on any substances found in it. If you don’t have the report handy, you can ask for it. You can also test the water yourself, which you’re likely to be doing already if you manage your own water source, such as water from a well. Also, if you notice any signs that your water quality isn’t what you’d expect, take the extra step to have it tested.
If your water quality isn’t up to snuff, you’ve got a couple of options. Depending on the problem, a home filtering system could do the trick. There are high-quality systems that attach to water sources at your refrigerator or faucet and pitchers that also have built-in filters. Be sure to research the system a bit so that you know it is optimal for the kinds of impurities you want to keep out of your drinking source. Alternately, you can opt for bottled water or have water delivered.
Pasteurization is a process where a substance is briefly heated in order to kill off any harmful bacteria. In the culinary world, this process happens for both beverages and foods like cheese, vinegar, syrups, and nuts. It has been shown to keep foods from spoiling as quickly and to reduce bacteria that make people sick.
Some opponents of pasteurization believe that it also kills helpful bacteria and reduces the nutritional content in treated food or drink. However, doctors widely believe that pregnant women should take care to avoid unpasteurized foods as much as possible. Their risk of getting sick from harmful bacteria is simply too great to ignore.
A variety of healthy beverages women are advised to drink are available as unpasteurized products and should be avoided. These include raw milk and orange juice or apple cider that’s labeled “fresh squeezed”. How can you be sure that what you’re drinking is pasteurized? Anything you’ll find on the supermarket shelves is likely ok to drink and you can read labels of foods you’re purchasing in other places. If you’re dining out and want to enjoy a juice, ask your server if they can confirm that its pasteurized.