Published August 17, 2007 by
Adolescent needs are special during pregnancy because her diet must supply the calories and nutrients necessary to meet her own growth needs as well as her baby's. Teenagers would benefit from individualized nutritional counseling aimed at meeting their nutritional requirements and matched to their lifestyles. Yes, you've probably received numerous fruit gift baskets, and that's good. But what else should you know about your food during pregnancy?
If you are expecting two or more babies, you should consume more calories and nutrients. Seek the advice of your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Caffeine is a substance naturally found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate. It may also be found in some medications. Careful label reading will alert you to its presence.
Caffeine readily finds its way to the fetus, and the concentration of caffeine in fetal blood will be about the same as the level in maternal blood. Studies have not shown an association between caffeine consumption and fetal abnormalities, but it is known that caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Caffeine also increases the production of stress hormones, causing constriction of uterine blood vessels, which lessens the blood flow to the uterus and temporarily decreases the amount of oxygen reaching the fetus.
Large amounts of caffeine cannot be good for your baby or you, since this substance has not been proved safe for the developing baby, little or no caffeine consumption during pregnancy are wise.
Little is known about the long term safety of non sugar sweeteners, such as saccharin. And aspartame [NutraSweet is the trade name for aspartame]. Saccharin has been associated with bladder cancer and no one is sure about the long term effects on the baby or early intra-uterine exposure to saccharin. NutraSweet has not been proved unsafe, but there are no long term studies that show it is safe for the developing fetus. Probably the best advice is to consume these products in moderation or to avoid them altogether.
Some herbs and herbal teas contain drugs. Ginseng tea contains a small amount of estrogen. Chamomile tea contains ragweed which can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Teas made from juniper berries may cause stomach irritation. Just because the herbal teas are considered to be "natural" does not mean they are safe for pregnant women expecting babies. You might check with your doctor or pharmacist about particular herbs before you take them.