Credit: wikipediaWhen you’re pregnant, it’s important to be as healthy as possible for both you and your baby. One of the most important ways to do so is by eating healthily. Your eating habits when you are pregnant can affect the eating habits of your child in the future. Also, there are some foods you should avoid while your baby is developing, and other foods that you should take caution in eating.
Foods to Avoid
- Raw meat – if you’re planning to eat meat, you should make sure that it is absolutely cooked. Raw meat, such as chicken, beef and sashimi can have traces of salmonella and toxoplasmosis, which causes blood infection, something you are especially susceptible to while pregnant
- Deli meat – deli meats have had a history of being contaminated with listeria, which has been linked to miscarriages. Also, during pregnancy, listeria can cross through the placenta to the baby resulting in infection or blood poisoning. It is best to avoid this meat to be safe, but if you must, make sure that the meat is cooked through
- Liver – Liver is something that you avoid during pregnancy, since birth defect can be caused if you eat a lot of vitamin A in non-beta-carotene form, which is present in liver
- Fish associated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) – PCB has been linked to memory difficulty and some brain damage. These fish are found in waters that are contaminated, thus exposing them to these toxic chemicals including PCB. Typically the list includes bluefish, salmon, pike, trout, wall eye and striped bass. However, this differs according to region so you may want to ask someone who is knowledgeable about the source of the fish.
- Fish associated with mercury – High levels of mercury consumed during pregnancy can lead to brain damage and delays in child development. Some of the fish include shark, Credit: wikipediaking mackerel, bigeye tuna, ahi tuna, marlin, tilefish and swordfish, as well as some types of fish in sushi.
- Raw seafood and shellfish – raw shellfish should be avoided completely when pregnant because it can lead to food poisoning. In addition to raw seafood, one should avoid smoked seafood since they can contain listeria. Cook through before eating.
- Raw eggs – Raw eggs can contain salmonella bacteria. Cook the eggs thoroughly if eaten by itself. Also, be careful of food products that may have raw egg, including hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad, mayonnaise and some types of ice cream. Another note: as much as we all enjoy licking cookie dough while baking, avoid this practice while pregnant since the cookie dough may contain harmful bacteria.
- Imported soft cheese – Due to the way that imported soft cheeses are made, they can contain listeria, which can lead to miscarriages. Pasteurized cheeses are generally OK to eat, but unpasteurized cheeses should be avoided. These include brie, camembert, feta, blue cheese, queso blanco and queso fresco. If you see a soft cheese that is made with pasteurized milk, as non-imported cheese can be, then they are fine to eat.
- Unpasteurized milk – Unpasteurized milk, as mentioned, can cause listeria. This can infect the baby and cause blood poisoning. Also, when you are pregnant, you become more susceptible to food poisoning, which is another reason to avoid unpasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk is fine, however.
- Refrigerated pate – Pate that is refrigerated can contain listeria, which is harmful to you and your baby. However, canned pates are fine to eat.
- Unclean and unwashed fruits and vegetables – If you are planning to eat fruits and vegetables (and you should be!), be sure to wash them thoroughly to avoid getting infected with toxoplasmosis, a serious blood infection.
- Alcohol – You should absolutely abstain from drinking any alcohol whatsoever during pregnancy, as this can harm the baby’s fetal development and lead to birth defects. Drinking alcohol can also lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is a lack of fetal development that is completely preventable simply by avoiding alcohol. Alcohol should also be avoided after giving birth during the breastfeeding stage, since the alcohol does get passed onto the baby when the baby is breastfeeding.
- Caffeine – You can consume caffeine during pregnancy, but in moderation. Some studies have shown that there may be a relation to miscarriages and low birth weight. Also, caffeine flushes your system of fluids, which can lead to dehydration. It is important during pregnancy to keep yourself as well hydrated as possible with water and pasteurized juices and milk. It’s best not to drink more than 200 mg of caffeine daily, which is two cups of coffee or five cans of pop. To be safe, during the first trimester, caffeine should be avoided. If you like, you can drink decaffeinated beverages instead.
- Unpasteurized vegetable and fruit juice – Similar to unclean vegetables, make sure that the juice that you are drinking is pasteurized so that it is clean of bacteria and thus safe to consume.
- Some herbal teas – while most types of herbal teas are okay to drink, there are some that you should avoid while pregnant. These include: chamomile tea, sage tea, parsley tea, and teas with aloe, juniper berries, coltsfoot, pennyroyal, buckthorn bark,Labradortea, sassafras, duck roots, lobelia and senna leaves. These teas have been linked to miscarriage and some others are high blood pressure and even harmful to fetal development.
A Closing Note
Pregnancy is a special time for you and your baby, so take the time to know what foods
are best for your baby’s development and what foods to avoid. The canned versions of these foods are fine, such as canned seafood, are fine to eat, as they contain less bacterium. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to eat food that has been cleaned in some way or rid of its bacterium by being cooked thoroughly or pasteurized. Remember, if you’re not sure of whether or not something is safe to eat, don’t hesitate to ask someone who knows what is inside the food. It’s better to veer on the side of being safe, especially when you are pregnant.
credit: The American Pregnancy Association, Babycenter