When you’re pregnant, you are eating for two. You have to consider not only how your diet affects your energy, digestion, and health but also how it affects the baby.
The OB/GYN team at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California, wants you to be fully informed about the foods you should avoid during pregnancy. Of course, most foods are safe, but others risk containing bacteria that can harm pregnant women and their babies.
Here’s your cheat sheet for foods to avoid.
Some types of fish, such as shark, tuna, swordfish, and marlin, have higher levels of mercury. Consuming these fish during pregnancy could lead to developmental delays and brain damage.
However, other types of fish contribute to good nutrition during pregnancy because they contain essential nutrients, like healthy omega-3 fats. The FDA provides a detailed list of fish to consume and avoid during pregnancy.
Raw fish and shellfish can contain bacteria and parasites that can harm both mom and baby. In other words, traditional sushi and sashimi made with uncooked fish are off the table. Raw or rare meat is also a no-no, as it can also contain harmful bacteria.
Raw eggs can contain salmonella, a foodborne pathogen that puts you and your baby at risk. Always cook eggs thoroughly before eating. Avoid poached or other “runny” preparations.
Deli meats can harbor a parasitic bacteria called listeria. Listeria can cross the placenta and infect the baby, causing blood and brain infections, miscarriage, and other life-threatening complications.
Unpasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juice also have a high risk of carrying the listeria bacteria that can cause infections. Some, but not all, soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, feta, and gorgonzola contain unpasteurized milk – so read the labels carefully.
Just skip the libations when you’re pregnant. Drinking increases your risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and a lifelong condition in your child known as fetal alcohol syndrome.
Some foods aren’t off-limits, but it’s best not to overdo them.
Organ meat contains essential nutrients like vitamin B12 and iron, but it also has a lot of vitamin A. To avoid overdosing on vitamin A, stick to just a few ounces of liver or other organ meats per week.
Some caffeine is OK during pregnancy, but stay under 200 milligrams daily, or about 2-3 cups of regular drip coffee. Research suggests that too much coffee can cause low birth weight.
Of course, you might have cravings, but be smart when consuming processed junk foods. A treat now and then is OK, but if you make them a mainstay in your diet, you’re more likely to gain too much weight and displace the nutrient-rich foods that you and your baby need. Processed junk foods have lots of sugar, unhealthy fats, and minimal nutrients.