“There is such a special sweetness in being able to participate in creation.” This beautiful quote by Pamela S. Nadav summarizes the amazing time in a woman’s life when she is pregnant.
It can also be a very confusing time. There are hundreds of articles offering pregnancy-related advice, especially regarding what is safe to eat.
The hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy cause food cravings. However, before eating anything, you need to think about the safety of your unborn baby. You can always consult your doctor regarding a healthy diet during pregnancy and what foods you should avoid.
Here are a few foods that all women should avoid during pregnancy.
1. Raw and Partially Cooked Eggs
If you have the habit of tossing raw eggs into your morning smoothie to give it a protein boost, skip this ingredient during your pregnancy.
Pregnant women must avoid eating raw or partially cooked eggs. They pose a huge risk for salmonella infection, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. This in turn affects the baby’s health.
Eggs are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, so if you want to eat eggs during your pregnancy, just make sure that they are cooked.
Cook them until the yolks and whites are firm to reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning. Also, wash your hands after handling eggs as salmonella is often present on the shells.
In addition, avoid foods made with raw or partially cooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise, Caesar salad dressing and others.
Pregnant women should abstain from drinking alcohol due to its adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes. Alcohol significantly increases the risk for fetal alcohol syndrome, developmental disorders and miscarriages.
During the first trimester, it increases the risk of miscarriage, while during the second and final trimesters it can be very harmful to the unborn baby.
There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. Even when breastfeeding, you should avoid drinking alcohol.
Limit the amount of coffee that you drink during pregnancy. Its high caffeine content works as a stimulant that can affect your baby’s heart rate.
Caffeine also increases the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. In addition, excess caffeine can cause dehydration.
Avoid caffeine during the first trimester to reduce the likelihood of a miscarriage. Drinking coffee in moderation is permissible after the first trimester.
Also, avoid other sources of caffeine like herbal teas, green tea, energy drinks, soft drinks, dark chocolate and others.
Pregnant women should not consume more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. On average, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains approximately 95 mg of caffeine.
4. High-Mercury Fish
Fish may be a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids, but avoid those that have high levels of mercury during pregnancy. High mercury can interfere with the normal development of a child’s brain and nervous system.
Some types of fish that are high in mercury are king mackerel, swordfish, walleye, Chilean bass, marlin, Spanish mackerel and shark.
If you like fish, you can have up to 2 servings per week of wild salmon, tilapia, catfish or shrimp. You can also try white fish and cooked shellfish. Tuna is also acceptable, limited to 4 medium-size cans per week or 2 tuna steaks.
Do not eat raw or undercooked fish or shellfish as well as cold smoked or pickled fish.
5. Raw and Undercooked Meat
Never eat raw meat or poultry products, especially when you are pregnant. Raw or undercooked meat puts you at risk of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite that can harm your unborn baby.
According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, about 85% of pregnant women in the U.S. are at a higher risk of developing this infection.
You can eat thoroughly cooked meat. It contains protein, an essential nutrient for your baby’s growth. It is best to cook any meat yourself at home during your pregnancy, so you can be sure it is well done. When dining out, avoid ordering meat.
Do not eat cold meat of any kind, such as ham, turkey, or roast beef, unless it is heated until steaming. Make sure to wash and dry your hands after handling raw meat.
6. Raw and Semi-Ripe Papaya
If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, avoid eating unripe papaya. Excess intake of raw or semi-ripe papaya works as an abortifacient, which means it can cause a miscarriage. Unripe papayas are rich in latex, which can trigger uterine contractions.
Avoid green papaya salad and soup. Also, do not take any supplements containing papain enzyme during pregnancy. Avoid eating ripe papaya too as whether it is completely safe during pregnancy or not is still not known.
7. Soft Cheese
During pregnancy, avoid soft cheeses like feta, brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Mexican style cheeses.
Usually made with unpasteurized milk, soft cheese may contain listeria, a kind of bacteria. Listeria can lead to miscarriage, preterm delivery, stillbirth or severe illness in a newborn baby.
However, soft cheese is safe to eat if it is made with pasteurized milk. Always check the label when buying soft cheese to be sure it is “made with pasteurized milk.” To be on the safer side, opt for harder cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella or Swiss.
Similarly, unpasteurized milk can pose health risks to your unborn baby. Do not drink raw milk, including cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk.
8. Raw Sprouts
Raw sprouts are usually a healthy mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, but not during pregnancy.
Sprouts may contain harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, listeria and E. coli that can cause food poisoning. Vomiting and diarrhea due to food poisoning is hard on your body as well as your unborn baby.
Do not eat raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts. Avoid sandwiches and salads that have sprouts. However, you can eat thoroughly cooked sprouts, which contain many healthy nutrients.