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What to Shelve for Nine Months

     What to Shelve for Nine Months

    What to Shelve for Nine Months

    Here it comes—that long list of things that you have to kick to the curb while you’re pregnant. It might cramp your style for a while, but it’s well worth it. Some women nd they can’t remember all the foods on the no-no list, so there’s a cheat sheet on page xxi. Make a copy for your purse so you’ll always be able to refer to it—even on the sly.

    Tobacco

    I know it goes without saying that if you’re smart enough to be reading this book right now, you’re smart enough to know that it’s incredibly damaging to smoke while you’re pregnant. That said, according to the March of Dimes, 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States still smoke during their pregnancies. So here it is one more time—don’t do it.
    Smoking during pregnancy doubles your risk of having a low-birth-weight baby (a baby weighing less than 51⁄2 pounds at birth) because it slows fetal growth. Smoking has also been shown to increase the risk of preterm delivery (birth before thirty-seven weeks). Smoking can also cause issues with the placenta, such as placenta previa (obstruction of the cervix by the placenta) and placental abruption (detachment of the placenta from the uterus before or during labor).
    Once the baby of a mom who smokes is born, the news gets even worse. These babies are born addicted to nicotine and are more dif cult to soothe.
    Plus, their risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is three times higher than babies of moms who didn’t smoke.
    Secondhand smoke is no joke either. If you are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke (either from a family member or in your work environment), your baby’s growth may be slowed and she may have a low birth weight, which can result in other complications.4 Try to avoid smoky environments as much as possible. Thankfully, most states have banned smoking in public places, like restaurants and bars. The glaring exceptions? Alabama, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina (no big surprise, since it’s the largest tobacco-growing state), South Carolina, and Virginia. Let’s hope they hurry up and get with the program!

    Alcohol

    I know what you’re thinking: Of course you’re not planning to drink like a fish while you’re pregnant, but an occasional sip won’t hurt, right? The French and Italian drink wine when they’re pregnant, and they seem fine. Well, today even the French and the Brits—who’ve historically advocated a good pint of Guinness for a healthy pregnancy—have now started to warn their citizens about the effects of alcohol during pregnancy. And well they should. Each year, forty thousand babies in this country suffer the adverse effects of alcohol.
    Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder includes various types of birth defects, such as mental retardation, learning, and behavioral disabilities, and others. The most severe is fetal alcohol syndrome, which is a combination of both mental and physical defects.

    According to the March of Dimes, there is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy, so better safe than sorry. Because alcohol passes directly from the mother to the fetus through the placenta, there’s no way to protect your baby from absorbing the booze. Before you freak out about that mojito you drank the night you conceived or the bottle of wine you shared with your best friend when you were a few weeks pregnant and didn’t know it, relax. It happens to a lot of women. The important thing is that you stop drinking once you’ve gotten that positive pregnancy test.

    So fine, you’re not going to touch a drop of the stuff while you’re preggers. You know to avoid glasses of prosecco and shots of tequila, but alcohol also sneaks up in some less obvious places. Around the holidays, many cakes are soaked in bourbon, and sweets like (my family’s fave) rum balls abound. If people put treats out at the of office, or if there’s something at a party that you’re not sure about, subtly ask the host what’s in her divine creation. You could also just give it a discreet sniff—the fumes are usually a dead giveaway.

    What about cooking? Doesn’t all the alcohol burn off? That’s what I thought, but unfortunately, it’s not always true. A baked good that has been cooked for an hour still contains 25 percent of its original alcohol levels. Foods that are marinated in a mixture that contains alcohol and then grilled will retain quite a bit of residual alcohol. A dish like pasta with vodka sauce contains about 40 percent of its original alcohol level. Ask whenever you’re in doubt. If someone gets annoyed that you’re being persnickety, give him your sincerest smile and tell him you’re just trying to do right by your baby.

    Obviously, the decision about whether to imbibe occasionally is a very personal one that’s based on your upbringing and cultural traditions. I have several friends who told me they enjoyed small glasses of wine on occasion during their pregnancies. Some doctors say it’s okay to kick back with a glass of wine or beer once the baby is fully developed and ready to arrive in a matter of days or hours. Of course, always make sure to check with your doctor before popping the cork.