Eating While Pregnant
You probably already know there are lots of things to avoid during pregnancy – don’t take hot baths, don’t participate in strenuous activities, etc. There are also foods that pregnant women should either avoid or alter for the health and safety of their baby. Following are some foods to watch out for.
Unpasteurized dairy. Avoid any and all soft cheeses, raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products. Pasteurization kills any bacteria that could be present in dairy foods, and unpasteurized foods can cause harm to the baby. Check the labels or ask to verify that any dairy products are pasteurized before eating them.
Raw eggs. Raw eggs can be dangerous due to the potential exposure to salmonella. Avoid raw eggs or products containing raw eggs, such as Caesar dressings, homemade ice cream or custards, and Hollandaise sauces.
Raw meat. Avoid rare or under-cooked beef or poultry during pregnancy, due to risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.
Raw shellfish. Raw shellfish should be avoided during pregnancy.
Deli meats. Deli meats such as salami and bologna can be contaminated with listeria, which can cross the placenta and infect the baby, leading to infection or blood poisoning and a possible life-threatening situation. Be sure to re-heat any deli meats prior to eating so that they are steaming to kill off any bacteria.
Fish with mercury. Fish with high mercury content, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, should be avoided. Canned chunk light tuna generally has a lower level of mercury than other varieties of tuna, but should still only be consumed in moderation. Certain types of fish used in sushi should also be avoided due to high levels of mercury. See the American Pregnancy Association’s Mercury in Fish report for specific types of fish and more information on how to calculate mercury levels in the fish you consume.
Unwashed vegetables. It’s important to eat fruits and vegetables during pregnancy, but always wash them first to remove any pesticides or contaminants.
Caffeine. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine consumption to fewer than 300 mg per day. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it helps eliminate fluids from the body. This can result in water and calcium loss as well. Pregnant women should make sure to drink plenty of water, juice and milk, rather than caffeinated beverages. Large amounts of caffeine has also been linked to miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and withdrawal symptoms in infants.
Alcohol. No amount is safe during pregnancy. Avoid alcohol during pregnancy and while breast feeding.