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Mothers-to-be Should be Nourished in Winter

Jia SHEN, Obstetrician & Gynecologist

Regardless of the long practice for Chinese to eat tonic food in winter, foodie mothers-to-be remain in a little bit struggled about this.
The more you eat, the better? Or the more expensive, the better? Is it all right to eat hot pot in the bitter cold winter?
Today let’s use the Q&A form to briefly explain relevant matters for mothers-to-be.
Dr. Shen Jia will answer all your questions, such that mothers-to-be may feel at ease to enjoy themselves. Can I eat hot pot? Is there any precaution?In winter, a boiling hot pot is always the source of pleasure for foodies. However, many mothers-to-be don’t want to affect their babies’ health while satisfying their own palates.
Let’s hear what Dr. Shen may say.Answer: During pregnancy, a balanced diet with a limited dietary taboo is expected and required. Sichuan hot pot is so oily and spicy that it is generally not suitable for mothers-to-be in the last trimester of pregnancy. For pregnant women with biliary stones especially, hot pot may cause biliary colic, acute cholecystitis, acute pancreatitis and other complications. It is better not to drink the soup left over after hot pot swishing for it contains a large number of purines that may increase the burden of liver and kidney, and cause gout easily. Do not pursue the tender mouthfeel of beef and fish excessively but cook them until well done. Be sure to pay attention to food hygiene and do not take any half-cooked food.

As sashimi that raises many concerns may contain parasites, escherichia coli, salmonella, etc. that may cause potential safety hazards for mothers-to-be and their babies, it should be avoided. Furthermore, it is also so important to prevent food poisoning that mothers-to-be need to choose restaurants with health and safety guaranteed. When eating at home, pay attention to the sanitation and hygiene of the foods and cooking utensils.


Question: What should I do when I feel asleep right after meals (do not want any outdoor exercise as it is clod in winter)?Answer: Mothers-to-be are encouraged to exercise appropriately during pregnancy. In the absence of complications, pregnant women are generally recommended to exercise 30-50 minutes per day and 3-5 days per week. Regular aerobic exercise can improve physical power, maintain good heart and lung functions, and improve mental health as well. It can also mitigate symptoms related to the sedentary lifestyle, such as lumbar back pain, neck and shoulder discomfort, etc. Regular aerobic exercise also contributes to vaginal delivery. Warm up properly before exercise and drink water during exercise. If you are not feeling well during exercise, stop exercise immediately.If mothers-to-be think it’s cold to take outdoor exercise, indoor exercises may be good alternatives, such as prenatal yoga, swimming, aerobic dance, prenatal gymnastics, riding in place, fast walking, etc. In short, mothers-to-be must overcome inactivity and start to move. It’s important to note that exercise should be progressive and cater to each person’s physique since the physique varies from person to person. It would be easier to start from what you do best and make a little bit progress each day.

Question: Is it necessary to supplement calcium since there isn’t sufficient sunbathe in winter?
Answer: Mothers-to-be need to take in sufficient calcium, whether it is summer or winter. All pregnant women are recommended to have a calcium intake of more than 1,000 mg per day. Many foods contain calcium. The first and foremost would be milk and dairy products, which not only contain rich calcium but are also absorbed more easily. So it is important to drink 500ml of milk or equivalent daily products each day. If your weight grows too fast or you have a complication of gestational diabetes mellitus, try low-fat or skim milk that retains calcium and other nutrients without consuming too much calories. If you are lactose intolerant and cannot digest dairy products well, you can try other natural foods with rich calcium content such as nuts, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, soy products, etc. If you have calcium deficiency symptoms such as leg pain and muscle cramps in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, you can take calcium tablets as a supplement.In addition, some mothers-to-be are worried by the notion that additional intake of calcium is not conducive to natural labor as it may lead to a “harder fetal skull”. There is no scientific basis for this notion The hardness of the fetal head is close to a table tennis ball which may transform properly during labor, but the suturae cranii will not be closed in advance to adapt to different birth canals. Adequate intake of calcium during pregnancy can meet the needs of fetal growth. The excessive calcium will be stored in the mother’s bones in the form of bone salt, so that the mother won’t have osteoporosis after giving birth.Question: Can I take vitamin tablets as an alternative of cold fruit?

Answer: It is not recommended to use drugs to replace food. Vitamin tablets are generally used to supplement deficiencies. Prenatal vitamins can be taken to supplement nutrients that cannot be obtained via food, but not as the primary source of nutrition. Fruit is rich in not only vitamins but also cellulose, which helps to promote peristalsis and hence can relieve symptoms of constipation during pregnancy.

Question: Fish and meat are unavoidable given that various holidays are imminent. Is there any precaution?

Answer: Excessive fat ingestion leads to fast growth of weight, not only making it difficult to maintain body shape, but also resulting in macrosomia easily, hence affecting the success rate of vaginal delivery. Hold to a balanced diet. While ensuring the quality of food, increase the varieties of foods. Have many meals but little food at each, which is believed more conducive to health.

Another concern is that mothers-to-be today are mostly over-fed with over-calories and few are undernourished. Mothers-to-be need not to worry what they should avoid consuming or what they should consume less of will affect the infant development.

Daily diet should include cereals, vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy products, meat and protein foods. The consumption of liquid food is also very important. Drink 6-8 cups of water, juice and milk every day. Try to eat less high-fat, high-calorie foods and sweets.Finally, I wish all mothers-to-be a “perfect” pregnancy eating well and remaining pretty.