Most women become more conscious of what they are putting into their bodies once they become pregnant. Women want to have healthy babies and are concerned about causing any potential harm by consuming unsafe food and drinks. If you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, it’s a good idea to know what foods and drinks to avoid.
There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy and alcohol is best abstained from completely. Exposure to alcohol in utero can lead to problems in the development of a healthy baby. A baby whose mother drank while she was pregnant may suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and other physical and mental delays.
Caffeine is best avoided entirely if possible, however, if your coffee addiction is a little hard to break, caffeine is generally considered okay if daily intake is kept below 300mg per day, approximately two to three cups of normally brewed coffee. Caffeine has been linked miscarriage, especially in the first trimester. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, which may cause the mother to become dehydrated. If you are consuming caffeinated beverages, you should ensure you are consuming an adequate amount of water and fluids per day. Caffeine has also been linked to low-birth weights, premature birth, and withdrawal symptoms in newborns.
Deli meats are commonly contaminated with a bacteria known as listeria. Although usually harmless in adults, and older children, listeria can cause a large array of problems in pregnant women and may be fatal to your unborn baby. If you crave deli meat, don’t worry. You can still consume deli meat so long as you heat it until it’s steaming.
Seafood High in Mercury
Mercury is commonly found in white fish that live for long periods of time. The fish, as they age, collect mercury in their bodies. If a pregnant woman ingests this fish, her developing baby may be harmed by the mercury in the fish. Swordfish, shark, mackerel, and tilefish should all be avoided as they often contain high amounts of mercury. Prenatal exposure to high amounts of mercury through seafood has been linked to autism. However, the fatty acids in fish and seafood are important for your developing baby’s brain and eye development. The FDA states that pregnant women can safely consume up to twelve ounce per week of shrimp, canned light tuna (limiting albacore tuna and tuna steaks to no more than six ounces), salmon, pollock, catfish and cod.
Smoked seafoods, like deli meats, may have been contaminated with listeria and should not be consumed unless heated until steaming, or baked as part of a dish.
The majority of illnesses caused by seafood are because of undercooked or raw seafood consumption. Raw shellfish may cause algae related infections that cannot be killed or prevented by cooking thoroughly and for this reason, should be avoided in pregnancy.
Consuming raw eggs, or foods containing raw eggs should be avoided to prevent unnecessary exposure to salmonella. Some home made dressings and dips may contain raw eggs, however, bottled commercial dressings and dips are made using pasteurized eggs, greatly reducing potential exposure to salmonella.
Soft, unpasteurized cheeses may, like deli meat and smoked seafood, contain listeria. Listeria can cause blood infections, meningitis, mental retardation and death to an unborn baby. Soft cheeses, such as spreadable swiss and mozzarella that are labeled as pasteurized are safe for consumption during pregnancy.
Unpasteurized milk may be contaminated with listeria. Listeria is capable of crossing over the placenta and infecting your baby and should be avoided. Always check labels to ensure your milk is pasteurized.
Refrigerated pate may contain listeria, a bacteria that can be life threatening for your unborn baby and should be avoided. Shelf stable pates that requires no refrigeration prior to opening are safe to consume.
While pregnant, it is important to cook your meats thoroughly in order to prevent listeria, as well as other bacterial infections that could harm your baby.
Liver is okay during pregnancy in moderation, however, liver is incredibly high in Vitamin A, which in excess amounts, may cause damage to your growing baby.
Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
Unwashed fruits and vegetables may be carrying toxoplasmosis or listeria from the soil they were grown in, if it was treated with manure as fertilizer or animals deposited feces near the growing plants. By ensuring you wash and scrub your fruits and vegetables, you greatly reduce the risk of contracting either of these undesirable germs.
Unless you discuss the use of herbal teas (even ones specifically marketed towards pregnancy) with your caregiver and have been given the go-ahead, they should be avoided. Little research has been done on the effects of herbal teas on developing babies, and some ingredients in teas are known to cause problems with developing babies.
“Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living – MayoClinic.com. Web. 21 Sept. 2010.
“Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy : American Pregnancy Association.” Promoting Pregnancy Wellness : American Pregnancy Association. Web. 21 Sept. 2010.
Murkoff, Heidi Eisenberg., and Sharon Mazel. What to Expect When You’re Expecting. New York: Workman Pub., 2008. Print.
Johnson, Robert V. Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year. New York: W. Morrow and, 1994. Print.