There are some foods you should not eat when you’re pregnant because they might make you ill or harm your baby. Do your research, talk with your OB-Gyne and know which foods you should avoid or take extra care with when you’re pregnant. Certain foods should only be consumed rarely while others should be totally avoided. The best foods to eat are freshly cooked or freshly prepared food. Mothers-to-be have to pay close attention to what they eat and make sure to avoid harmful foods and beverages.
Here are the foods you should not eat when you’re pregnant or be extra careful with:
#1 Undercooked Meat
Properly cook all meat and poultry until it is steaming hot and there is no trace of pink or blood. Check on poultry, pork, sausages and minced meat, including burgers. Avoid eating uncooked seafood and rare or undercooked beef or eggs because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.
While most bacteria are found on the surface of whole pieces of meat, other bacteria may be found inside the muscle fibers. Bacteria may harm your unborn baby, which may lead to stillbirth or severe neurological illnesses, including intellectual disability, epilepsy, or blindness.
What to do: Cut meat, including meat patties, burgers, minced meat, pork and poultry, should never be consumed raw or undercooked. Eating processed foods during pregnancy is also a concern. When pregnant, do not consume processed meat products unless they’ve been reheated until steaming hot.
#2 Raw or partially cooked eggs
Raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella which causes fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. And in some rare cases, the infection may also cause cramps in the uterus, leading to premature birth or stillbirth.
What to do: Cook the eggs until the yolks and whites are solid all the way through. Avoid foods that have raw eggs in them, such as homemade mayonnaise or mousse.
There is no safe level of alcohol that you can have during pregnancy. Whether you are planning a pregnancy, already pregnant or breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option because alcohol can harm your unborn baby. Alcohol causes fetal alcohol syndrome, which involves facial deformities, heart defects and intellectual disability.
What to do: Completely avoid alcohol. Even a small amount can harm your baby’s brain development.
#4 Junk Foods
Pregnancy is a time of rapid growth because you’re eating for you and the growing baby inside you. During pregnancy, women need more of increased amounts of essential nutrients, including protein, folate and iron. You don’t need to consume twice the calories! About 350–500 extra calories per day during the second and third trimesters should be enough. Junk food is basically low in nutrients and high in calories, sugar and added fats. Moreover, too many calories lead to excess weight gain which has been linked to many complications and diseases.
What to do: Take an optimal pregnancy diet that mainly consists of whole foods, with lots of nutrients to fulfill the needs of the mother and the growing child.
#5 Some types of cheese
There’s a risk that some types of cheeses could contain listeria. However, all soft non-imported cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe to take.
What to do: Don’t eat soft cheeses like Camembert, Gorgonzola, Brie, Roquefort, feta, and Mexican style cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco, unless they clarify that they are made from pasteurized milk.
#6 Unpasteurized Milk
What to do: Don’t drink unpasteurized goat’s or sheep’s milk or eat food that is made out of them like soft goat’s cheese. Avoid eating soft ice-creams while you’re pregnant as they have a higher risk of listeria contamination.
#7 Supplements that contain Vitamin A
It’s not safe to take high-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements or any supplements containing vitamin A such as cod liver oil. Check any foods that have vitamin A added as they may say “fortified with vitamin A”.
Why avoid? Because liver has high levels of vitamin A, and too much of this can harm your baby.
#8 Fishes with high levels of Mercury
Mercury is a highly toxic element. It has no known safe level of exposure and in higher amounts, may be toxic to your nervous system, immune system and kidneys. It may also cause serious developmental problems in children.
We only need the types of fish that contain protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids.
High-mercury fish include:
- King mackerel
- Tuna (especially albacore tuna)
Note: Not all fish are high in mercury — just certain types.
High levels of caffeine can increase the risk of low birth weight and experiencing a difficult birth. Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world and mainly found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate.
You don’t need to cut out caffeine completely but limit your intake to NOT more than 300mg a day. Also, it is important that you drink plenty of water, natural fruit juices, and pasteurized milk rather than caffeinated beverages.
#10 Energy drinks
As what has been mentioned above, too much caffeine during pregnancy is can harm the pregnant mother and the unborn child. Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine, and other ingredients not recommended for pregnant women so might as well avoid it completely during pregnancy.
#11 Unwashed Vegetables
Vegetables are safe, and a necessary part of a healthy pregnancy diet. However, it is very important to make sure they are washed to avoid potential exposure to toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis contaminates the soil where the vegetables were grown.
What to do: Wash vegetables properly before cooking.
Pregnancy is the most vital and most sensitive period in a woman’s life. Of course, you want your pregnancy to be very healthy so it’s best to avoid this list of foods you should not eat when you’re pregnant as much as possible. Your health and that of the precious life inside you should come first. Be aware of these foods you should not eat when you’re pregnant.
Source: Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Introduction.