During my latest pregnancy, I’ve told people on a few occasions that I can’t eat or drink certain foods that they have offered that are very common staples among island folk. When I expressed why I couldn’t eat the foods/drinks in questions, I was met with lots of “I didn’t know that”s.
I wondered then how much pregnant women from the islands truly don’t know what they should and shouldn’t eat while trying to conceive, pregnant, or post-pregnancy if they plan to breastfeed. Some island women may have even suffered miscarriages, low birth weight children, or children with lower IQs as a result of their diets and had no clue it was related to what they ate.
This post* was driven by my desire to share this information to other island women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant and think that they can continue to eat the things we eat growing up without consequences to their unborn pickney.
Foods Pregnant Island Women Shouldn’t Eat/Drink (But some still do)
My mother drink it or my grandmother drink it and had no problems, so it should be good enough for me. This is the logic of a lot of island women coming up today. Sticking with what was done in the past by their elders and ignoring or not educating themselves on updating standards of the pregnancy ‘diet’ or care.
I have always been the opposite. I always looked at my family history and life and wanted to know more and see more, so I wasn’t close-minded towards education or alternate ways of doing things. I was never a do it just because someone else did it or does it kinda girl.
That may have made me the ‘boughie’ or ‘outcast’ of the family, but I didn’t much care. I had enough sense to make sure that I educate myself in all areas of my life, especially when it came to making and raising babies.
I may not get it all right, but it wouldn’t ever be for lack of trying or educating myself on what should or shouldn’t be done. And ya’ll know I love my belly and like to eat, so knowing what I could put into my body while pregnant was on my list of things to know.
Foods to Avoid Pre-Pregnancy and During Pregnancy
Bush Tea aka Lemongrass Tea
Herbal teas especially are not recommended during pregnancy because of the unknown health risks to a growing fetus. Lemongrass in particular, one of the staples of an island woman’s breakfast, though, is a BIG NO NO during pregnancy.
Though it has plenty of benefits for our island people in general. Women who have been confirmed pregnant should avoid it during AND after their pregnancy. Here’s why:
High doses of lemongrass can trigger menstrual flow, which may, in turn, lead to miscarriage. You should also avoid consuming lemongrass when you nurse your child, as it can trigger reactions for your little one. SOURCE: MomJunction.com
So, all though it’s common practice for us island women to get something warm in our bellies at breakfast time. Skip the bush tea or lemongrass tea until after the baby is born and you are done with breastfeeding. Better safe than sorry.
Fish in general is good for you and your baby during pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women who include fish in their diet have healthier babies, based on growth and development. However, fish that may be contaminated with mercury should be avoided and that includes our beloved staple, king fish, better known as king mackerel.
Fish that have the highest levels of methyl mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tile fish. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises pregnant women, women who are planning to become pregnant within one year, nursing mothers, and children under the age of 6 years to avoid fish that contain high levels of methyl mercury. SOURCE: BabyYourBaby.org
If you don’t mind your kid’s IQ level going down a little for every bite of kingfish you eat, then by all means eat up. However, I would eat it sparingly. Read more on the effects of mercury and babies here.
Post-Pregnancy – If you plan to breastfeed
Bush Tea aka Lemongrass Tea
If you missed it in the first section, go back up and read it again. If you plan to breastfeed, avoid drinking lemongrass tea, as these effects will be transferred to the baby through your breast milk.
I wish this was something that I knew early on in my first pregnancy. After the birth of my daughter and I was finally able to enjoy tea in the morning again, I opted for mint tea. Boy, was that a mistake. My milk supply dropped drastically and I had no clue what caused it.
I bought Mother’s Milk tea to re-boost my milk supply, but at the time didn’t realize that there was a connection between the mint tea and my drop in supply. Now I know better.
Mint tea has been found to dry up a mother’s milk. So if you’ve been sipping on mint tea and wonder why your baby is at the breast and frustrated, this may be the cause.
Researchers conclude that the methanol present in peppermint oil can pass into your breast milk and cause diarrhea or skin irritation to your feeding baby. SOURCE: Momjunction.com
Pregnancy Diet Education
There are plenty of other foods and drinks that should be avoided or limited during pregnancy and breastfeeding including sushi and caffeine. The point of this post is so that island women can educate themselves on what those are.
A lot of times we live in our own little bubbles about what’s good for us and our bodies and assume that what has been done for generations is the ‘right’ way of doing things.
Now don’t get me wrong. Some women can continue to eat and drink these foods and have absolutely no effects to themselves or their children. But is that a risk you want to take? Defying what should be common knowledge for the sake of doing what you’ve always done.
Now I’m no doctor, but you if you won’t take my word for it, take theirs.
Was there anything in this post that you didn’t know should be avoided during or after pregnancy? Let me know in the comments what your ‘really?’ moment was.