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Healthxchange > Forums > Ask the Specialists > Ask the specialist > Diet and Nutrition During Pregnancy

 Ask Specialists  
 Diet and Nutrition During Pregnancy
 Sep 30th - Oct 31st 2011 

Every pregnant woman wants to give birth to a baby in perfect health. Adopting a healthy diet can go a long way towards achieving that goal.

Are there foods you should eat, or not eat, during that special time of your life? If you usually follow a special diet, how does it impact your nutritional status as a pregnant woman?

If you have any question related to diet and nutrition during pregnancy, take this opportunity to ask our expert – today.

Hosted by:
Ms Lim Siew Choo
Ms Lim Siew Choo, and Ms. Nehal Kamdar
Senior Dietitian,
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics,
KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Posted by miki
Hi, Good day to you. I was wondering is it true that eating bird nest during pregnancy period can increase nutrition and improve the overall health of the mother and baby? Does it make a difference between the bottle ones or boiled ones? What food should be avoided during pregnancy? I love to eat sushi, but not the raw ones. Should I avoid it too? I understand that pregnancy is also a critical time for a woman to consume more calcium. What are the food that contains calcium and suitable for pregnancy other than milk? Thank you~!
Answered by Ms. Lim Siew Choo, Senior Dietitian,
Department of Nutritional and Dietetics
KK Women's and Children's Hospital
Bird’s nest is believed to have nourishing properties and is generally regarded as safe for mothers-to-be to consume during pregnancy. However, there is still a lack of scientific evidence to show the health benefits of consuming bird’s nest during pregnancy. 

Nutritionally, bird’s nest provides some protein, carbohydrate, iron and fiber. There should not be much difference between the bottled, commercially-prepared and home-prepared versions, however for home-prepared bird’s nest, you can have more options in selecting the grade of bird’s nest as well as the amount of sugar added as sweetener.

Posted by gnuyzx
Dear Ms Lim,
May I know what food should I avoid during pregnant?
How can I have a balance diet during pregnant?
What kind of food is good for baby's skin?
Thank you.
Answered by Ms. Lim Siew Choo, Senior Dietitian,
Department of Nutritional and Dietetics
KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Pregnant women should avoid the following foods: 

Soft cheeses (e.g. Brie, Camembert, feta) and liver pates                 
These foods may be contaminated with the bacteria, Listeria  which may lead to miscarriage and stillbirth. As pregnant women are more vulnerable to food poisoning, these foods should be avoided. Processed and hard cheeses are however, safe to consume.
Raw and undercooked poultry, eggs and seafood
e.g. raw oyster, cockles,sushi, sashimi and raw or half boiled eggs
These foods should be cooked thoroughly before eating as they may be contaminated with the bacteria, Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. Note that for eggs, they should be cooked till both the yolk and the white are solid
Large deep-sea fishes
e.g. shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish
These fishes may contain methylmecury, a heavy metal that is toxic to the developing fetus’ neurological system.
Unwashed salads
There may be bacterial contamination from soil, which can cause food poisoning. 
Alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy, as it can be passed via the placenta to the developing fetus, and may directly affect the development of the fetus.

Possible adverse effects include low birth weight, mental retardation, facial deformities and heart problems.  Small amounts of alcohol in cooking should be safe, but care should be taken to ensure that the food is thoroughly boiled after adding the alcohol, so that the alcohol will evaporate off
Limit caffeine-containing beverages (e.g. coffee, tea) to a maximum of 2 cups a day, as excessive intake can increase the risk of cleft palate as well as having a baby of low birth weight
Herbal products These are not recommended during pregnancy, as there is a lack of scientific research to make any recommendations for their use during pregnancy. 

Here's the guide on how to get a balance diet during pregnancy.

Food that is good for baby's skin can be found in this article:

Posted by chu
Hi Ms Lim,
May I know if it is true that pregnant women should avoid eating fruits such as pineapples and watermelons?
Answered by Ms. Lim Siew Choo, Senior Dietitian,
Department of Nutritional and Dietetics
KK Women's and Children's Hospital
There is no firm scientific evidence to suggest that fruits like pineapple and watermelon are harmful during pregnancy.  However, if you are more comfortable avoiding pineapples and watermelons, just ensure that you still have an adequate intake of other fruits.
So long as you do not avoid an entire food group, it is fine to avoid eating 1or 2 specific foods.
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