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TOPIC - Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Question
Is coffee higher in caffeine or tea? Should pregnant women avoid such beverage? If the person dislikes milk, what other substitutes can be taken?
Answer
Depending on how strong you brew your tea, coffee is generally higher in caffeine, particularly brewed coffee. Below is a comparison of caffeine content in various beverages. Pregnant women are advised to limit the amount of caffeine they take to no more than 300 mg per day, although many women prefer to have less than that or cut it out completely during pregnancy. There is indication that drinking too much coffee may contribute to the risk of low-birthweight babies. Caffeine is hidden in a number of sources including cold medication, cola beverages, and chocolate.
Item Serving size Amount of caffeine
Coca-Cola 1 can 43 mg
Pepsi cola 1 can 35 mg
Coffee, brewed 175 ml 103 mg
Coffee, instant 1 rounded tsp 57 mg
Tea, black, brewed 3 min. 175 ml 36 mg
Tea, green 250 ml 30 mg
Iced Tea, various brands 16-oz bottle 15-40 mg
Chocolate bars 1 bar 10-40 mg
Milk and other dairy products are rich sources of calcium; the RDA recommends that pregnant women consume 1200 mg of calcium per day. Calcium is needed by the developing fetus to grow strong bones and teeth, healthy nerves, heart, and muscles, and to develop normal heart rhythm and blood clotting. If you do not like milk, try other dairy products such as low-fat yoghurt, cheeses, even ice cream! You can also take canned salmon with bones, sardines, canned beans and lentils, and broccoli, kale & spinach. Refer to the article Focus on Calcium for a list of high calcium foods.
Question
I'm breastfeeding my 3 mth old and would like to continue until he is 6 mths old. Is it possible for me to diet while making sure my milk supply and milk nutrition level do not drop?
Answer
It is best not to diet too drastically while breastfeeding - it takes about 500-700 calories to produce 1 liter of milk. Most women lose weight when they are breastfeeding, especially in the first two months. If you have stopped losing weight or are gaining weight, you may want to increase your activity level. A brisk half-hour walk daily with your baby in a stroller or sling will help you lose weight plus give you some fresh air. If that does not work, you can consider cutting back a little and reducing your intake by about 100 calories per day, but do not go below 1800 calories. You may need more calories if you have a larger stature. Eat a well-balanced diet rich in wholegrains, fresh fruit and vegetables. Cut down on the high-fat items such as deep-fried foods, desserts & sauces, and high-fat meats.

The nutritional quality of human milk generally remains quite adequate, and often unaffected, even when a mother's caloric or nutritional intake is inadequate. The Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation, of the Institute of Medicine, was "impressed by evidence that mothers are able to produce milk of sufficient quantity and quality to support growth and promote the health of infants -- even when the mother's supply of nutrients and energy is limited." (1991). Having said that, you do not want to deplete your own stores for long as it affects your nutritional status in the long run. A gradual weight loss of no more than a pound a week through a combination of exercise and healthy eating should keep you nourished while continuing to breastfeed.

If you need help with specific foods to eat, make an appointment with a dietitian at the hospital and she/he will be able to give you some meal plans.
Question
I plan to have a baby this year, I have been on junk food diet, how many months in advance must I have a balance and healthy diet if I plan to get pregnant in 3 months?
Answer
The sooner you get on a balanced & healthy diet, the better it will be as that will give your body time to build up its stores. Nutrients that are particularly important for a healthy pregnancy are iron, folate, and calcium. You may also need to gain some weight as it is difficult to get pregnant when you are underweight (BMI less than 19) and you need the extra body stores to support the fetal growth. Use the Food Guide Pyramid as a guide to the amounts of each food group to eat, plus add foods high in iron, folate & calcium such as red meats, wholegrain cereals, leafy green vegetables and dairy products. Good luck!

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