Fish, omega-3 and other foods in pregnancy – myths and facts
Confused about all the warnings regarding foods that can harm your developing foetus? The list of potential hazards will never end for anxious expectant mothers. Here we’ve separated fact from fiction, including some strange ones about fish and omega 3.
Omega-3 makes you bleed more during birth – MYTH!
It has been said that the omega-3 fatty acids may prevent blood from coagulating properly and that this can pose a danger during childbirth. But studies show that this is not supported by facts. On the contrary, the health benefits of omega-3 far outweigh this theoretical risk. The essential omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish, such as mackerel, sardines and herring, contribute to normal brain and eye development in the foetus.
You should start taking folate when you start planning to get pregnant – FACT!
The NHS advises women to start taking a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folate when they are still planning to become pregnant. This is to prevent spina bifida in babies.
Half a glass of red wine is fine even though you are pregnant – MYTH!
Perhaps half a glass doesn’t have any negative effect on your child. But why take the risk? Remember that everything you consume is shared by the tiny body inside you, which is all too precious to expose to any risk. There is no safe lower limit for alcohol during pregnancy. You should always avoid alcohol during pregnancy and cut down considerably if you’re trying to get pregnant.
You must be more strict with food hygiene when pregnant – FACT!
To make sure that stored food doesn`t infect you with things like toxoplasma and listeria, it’s wise to be extra-strict with hygiene in the kitchen during pregnancy. Always rinse fruit, vegetables and berries. Wash knives and cutting boards frequently and keep your kitchen counters clean. Rinse and hang up your kitchen towel after use and replace it with a clean one frequently. Hot food should be steaming hot, because bacteria grow in lukewarm food. Most bacteria die at temperatures above 70 ° C If it’s a while before cooked food is to be served, it’s better for it to cool down and be reheated again. Raw and cooked foods should be kept apart. Change equipment between different types of foods (e.g. meat, fish and vegetables), and between raw and cooked food – or wash utensils well between each task.
It’s dangerous to eat fish when pregnant – MYTH!
The long list of fish to stay away from when you’re pregnant may make it seem as if all fish are dangerous. Greenland halibut heavier than three kilograms, pike, perch over 25 cm, trout over one kilo, char over one kilogram and fresh tuna are just some of the fish on the avoid list. But there are many other types of fish left, and it’s just as important to ingest the healthy ingredients in fish during pregnancy.
Pregnant women should not eat sushi – MYTH!
Pregnant women can eat sushi made with fresh fish, while avoiding fish types from the list above. Just be sure that sushi comes from a place that is clean with good food hygiene routines.
You can prevent allergies in your child by avoiding certain foods during pregnancy – MYTH!
There is no scientific basis for the belief that pregnant women can prevent allergies this way. However, it seems that a full, varied diet during pregnancy can have a positive effect on a child’s health later in life.
Pregnant women should be cautious about supplements – FACT!
If you take supplements, you can risk getting too much of certain nutrients, especially if you take multiple types. Beyond folate and any other recommendations given to you by your doctor, you should rather concentrate on getting your nutrients through food instead of supplements. If you are still taking supplements, make sure you follow the dosage indicated on the package, and do not take several different types that contain the same vitamins and minerals.
For a complete list of foods to avoid during pregnancy, see the NHS dietary guidelines for pregnant women.
Source: NHS; medscape.com; Food Standards Agency