Most women instinctively know the common foods to avoid when pregnant and what healthy ones they should eat. For example, they understand that caffeine consumption should be either eliminated or drastically reduced; they should not smoke, drink alcohol or spend time in any hot tubs.
However, more and more studies are being done to see if pregnant women should avoid certain foods for the duration of their pregnancy.
It is essential that pregnant women eat well-balanced meals at all times to provide their growing baby with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that the little one needs to grow.
There are some foods that need to be avoided due to the health risk they pose to not just the mother, but also to the growing baby.
For starters, raw meat needs to be avoided due to the risk of toxoplasmosis and salmonella.
This means no more rare steaks or rare burgers. Pregnant women should take caution and make sure that all of the meat they consume is cooked well done.
Cold deli meats should also be avoided because of the risk of listeria. This bacteria can cross the placenta and cause an infection or blood poisoning to the baby.
Keep in mind though, that deli meats can be reheated until it is steaming and this can help to reduce the risk.
According to the Mayo Clinic, listeria infection is a food-borne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women, people older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems. It's most commonly caused by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products.
Speaking of listeria, there are other foods that can contain this bacteria.
These cheeses are commonly made with unpasteurized milk, which can contain listeria, so pregnant women need to make sure that any soft cheeses they are going to eat are made with pasteurized milk.
Fish has always been a subject of debate for pregnant women. While some forms of fish contain essential nutrients that are needed by the baby, others contain a high level of mercury.
Any fish with a high level of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and fish used in sushi should be avoided throughout pregnancy.
Studies have linked mercury to developmental delays and in some cases brain damage.
Tuna can also contain a lot of mercury, but canned, chunk light tuna has a lower amount of it and can be eaten in moderation.
Raw shellfish also should be avoided throughout pregnancy.
Raw eggs or anything containing raw eggs is a big no-no during pregnancy because there is always the potential risk of salmonella exposure.
This means no raw cookie dough, no brownie mix, and some homemade sauces such as hollandaise, Caesar dressing, and blue cheese dressing.
When dining in a restaurant, it would be wise to ask if any of the sauces or dressings contain any raw eggs.
Most restaurants should be using pasteurized eggs in any raw egg recipe, but it’s better to err on the side of caution to avoid a potentially disastrous situation with the little one.
When you’re eating for two, unhealthy food cravings can be challenging to control, especially with all of the junk food advertisements we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.
Pregnancy is one of the most important times for a woman to be careful about what she eats.
Some of the above foods have been linked to miscarriages and other birth defects. If you are pregnant and you have already indulged in a few of the foods you should not have, do not panic.
Chances are, you and your baby are fine, but take extra care to avoid these foods in the future.
If you’re a pregnant woman and have concerns about you and your baby’s health, don’t hesitate to contact your obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN).
Working with your health care professional is usually always your best option when it comes to your pregnancy.
I provided a handful of the foods you should avoid during pregnancy.
However, there are others you should keep on your radar, but your OB-GYN can provide you a simple list of foods to avoid when pregnant that includes those not covered in this article.
Before you implement the Everything In Moderation Food Theory, check with your OB-GYN first to be on the safe side.
I wish you a healthy pregnancy!