Eating well balanced meals is important at all times, but it is even more essential when you are pregnant. There are essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your developing baby needs. Most foods are safe; however there are some foods that you should avoid during pregnancy.
What foods I should avoid during pregnancy?
Sushi, uncooked seafood, rare or uncooked beef or poultry should be avoided because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.
Deli Meat: Deli meats have known to be contaminated with Listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection, or blood poisoning which may be life-threatening. If you are pregnant and you are considering eating deli meats, make certain that you reheat the meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Liver: There is some concern about the amounts of vitamin A in liver. Large amounts of vitamin A have the potential to pose a risk to an unborn baby. The safest approach is to avoid eating liver.
Fish with Mercury: Fish that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided. These types of fish include: shark, swordfish, kink mackerel, fresh tuna, sea bass, and tilefish. Canned tuna is safe, but you should not eat more than 6 ounces in a week. Mercury consumed during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage.
Fish exposed to Industrial Pollutants: Avoid fish from contaminated lakes and rivers that may be exposed to high levels of polychlorinated biphyenyls. This is primarily for those who fish in local lakes and streams. These fish include: blue fish, striped bass, salmon, pike, trout, and walleye. Contact the local health department or Environmental Protection Agency to determine which fish are safe to eat in your area. Remember, this is regarding fish caught in local waters and not fish from your local grocery store.
Raw Shellfish: The majority of seafood borne illness is caused by undercooked shellfish, which include oysters, clams, and mussels. Cooking helps prevent some types of infection, but it does not prevent the algae-related infections that are associated with red tides. Raw shellfish pose concern for everybody and they should be avoided altogether during pregnancy.
Raw Eggs: Raw eggs or any foods that contain raw eggs should be avoided because of the potential exposure to salmonella. Some Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custards, and Hollandaise sauces may be made with raw eggs. Unpasteurized eggnog should also be avoided.
Soft Cheeses: Imported soft cheeses may contain bacteria called Listeria which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection, or blood poisoning which can be life-threatening. The soft cheeses to avoid include: brie, camembert, Roquefort, feta, gorgonzola and Mexican style cheeses that include queso blanco and queso fresco. Soft non-imported cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe to eat.
Unpasteurized Milk: Unpasteurized milk may contain bacteria called Listeria which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection, or blood poisoning which can be life-threatening. Make sure that any milk that you drink is pasteurized.
Pate: Pate should be avoided because it may contain the bacteria Listeria.
Caffeine: Although most studies show that caffeine intake in moderation is okay, there are others that show that caffeine intake may be related to miscarriages. Avoid caffeine during the first trimester to reduce the likelihood of a miscarriage. As a general rule in later stages of your pregnancy, caffeine should be limited to fewer than 300 mg per day. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it helps eliminate fluids from the body. This can result in water and calcium loss. It is important that you are drinking plenty of water, juice, and milk rather than caffeinated beverages. Some research shows that large amounts of caffeine are associated with miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in infants. The safest thing is not to consume caffeine.
Alcohol: There is NO amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy, and therefore alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can interfere with the healthy development of the baby. Depending on the amount, timing, and pattern of use, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other developmental disorders. If you consumed alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, stop drinking now. Alcohol should continue to be avoided during breast feeding. Exposure to alcohol as an infant poses harmful risks, and alcohol does reach the baby during breastfeeding.
Unwashed Vegetables: Yes, vegetables are safe to eat, so you still need to eat them. However, it is essential to make sure they are washed to avoid potential exposure to toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis may contaminate the soil which the vegetables were grown in.
Herbal Remedies: Don't take anything without checking with your health care provider. Goldenseal, mugwort, and penny royal are all associated with uterine contractions and should be avoided.
Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association