Expecting a baby is an exciting time for any parent-to-be. But with the joy comes responsibility, including ensuring you’re eating right and avoiding certain foods that can damage your health or your baby’s.
Know what you should avoid while pregnant to ensure your baby’s well-being during this special time. From mercury-filled fish to unpasteurized cheese, here are ten foods to avoid when expecting a little one.
1. Unpasteurized Cheese
Unpasteurized cheese is a kind of cheese that has not been thermally treated to kill bacteria or other microorganisms. This cheese may contain harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Listeria, which can cause food poisoning and other illnesses if eaten. The pasteurization process helps to control the levels of bacteria, making pasteurized cheese a much safer option for pregnant women.
Soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as Brie, feta, goat cheese, and blue-veined varieties can contain listeria bacteria. If you’re pregnant, it can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth – so always opt for pasteurized versions of these cheeses.
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2. Raw Eggs
Raw eggs can carry salmonella, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Bacteria in raw eggs can also be found in products made with raw eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise, eggnog, and hollandaise sauce.
To avoid the risk of food poisoning, cook your eggs until the yolk and white are solid, or use pasteurized eggs instead. Don’t avoid eggs altogether- they are a good source of protein and many other nutrients!
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3. Raw Fish
Sushi, sashimi, and carpaccio may be delicious, but raw fish can contain bacteria or parasites that can make you sick. This is especially true for expecting women – eating raw or undercooked fish puts them at risk of foodborne illness.
To avoid this, pregnant women should avoid sushi made with raw fish and opt for cooked versions instead. If you can’t resist the temptation, choose types of fish that are low in mercury, such as salmon and shrimp.
Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some soft drinks. While the occasional coffee or tea is unlikely to harm your baby, pregnant women should limit their intake as caffeine has been linked to low birth weight and fetal restriction.
With its rapid absorption and easy passage into the placenta, caffeine can quickly accumulate to dangerously high levels in babies due to their lack of the necessary enzyme, which would otherwise metabolize it. If you loved drinking caffeine before you became pregnant, try to limit yourself to no more than 200 milligrams per day.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to congenital disabilities and fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause severe physical and mental defects in babies, including brain damage and growth problems. The impacts of fetal alcohol syndrome are far-reaching and, unfortunately, not curable. Each child experiences a unique set of symptoms from this condition.
If you are expecting, it is best to avoid drinking altogether. If you’re struggling with an alcohol problem, seek professional help immediately, as many resources are available to help you quit.
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6. Unwashed Produce
Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet, but if you don’t wash them properly, you risk consuming bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Make sure to carefully rinse all produce before eating it, especially if it is organic or from a farmer’s market.
Now that you’re pregnant, you have a higher risk of contracting listeria, a foodborne illness caused by consuming contaminated produce. Listeria can cause miscarriage and stillbirth, so be extra vigilant about food safety and thoroughly wash all produce before consuming them.
7. Processed Foods
Processed foods often contain preservatives and additives that can harm your baby’s health and yours. These include nitrates, MSG, artificial food coloring, and trans fats. They also tend to be high in sodium and sugar, which can lead to weight gain during pregnancy.
It is best to avoid processed foods and opt for fresh, wholesome ingredients instead. This way, you can be sure that your baby is getting all the essential nutrients they need to grow and develop healthily.
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8. High Mercury Fish
Fish contain essential omega-3 fatty acids and are an important part of a healthy diet. While many types of fish are safe during pregnancy, some include high levels of mercury, which can harm your baby’s development if consumed in large amounts.
These fish include swordfish, king mackerel, shark, tuna, marlin, orange roughy, and tilefish. To be safe, avoid eating these fish. You can, however, eat low-mercury fish, such as salmon, flounder, haddock, trout, and tilapia.
9. Raw or Undercooked Meat
Undercooked meats can harbor bacteria such as salmonella, which can cause severe food poisoning in pregnant women. To avoid this, ensure all meat is cooked until steaming hot before serving.
You should never ingest raw or undercooked meat patties, burgers, pork, poultry, and minced meat. Ensure those juicy burgers on the grill are cooked thoroughly and well done! Even hot dogs, lunch meats, and deli meats can also become contaminated with bacteria while being processed or stored. To stay healthy, carefully handle them during preparation.
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10. Raw Sprouts
Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover, and mung bean, have a high risk of containing salmonella or E. coli. Due to the potential for serious foodborne illness, pregnant women should avoid consuming these types of foods.
If you’re craving the crunch of raw vegetables, skip the sprouts and opt for other options instead. Foods like carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower are much safer and provide plenty of nutrition too!
Eat Healthy, Nutrient-dense Foods
The best way to ensure that you and your baby stay healthy during pregnancy is by eating a variety of nutrient-dense, whole foods. Focus on adding fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to your diet.
These healthy foods will provide the essential vitamins and minerals to keep you and your baby healthy and facilitate safe delivery while helping with weight management during pregnancy.
This article was produced on Health Makes You.