Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life, but it comes with many dietary restrictions. Expectant mothers need to be extra cautious about what they eat, as their diet can affect the health of their growing baby. Some foods provide essential nutrients and nourishment, but others can be harmful and even lead to complications during pregnancy. In this blog, we’ll discuss the foods that expectant moms should avoid when pregnant to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a happy baby.
Deli meats such as turkey, chicken, ham, and salami may contain listeria, which are bacteria that can cause miscarriage or stillbirth. These bacteria can survive even in cold temperatures, and heating the deli meat before eating it isn’t always enough to kill the bacteria. It’s best for expectant mothers to avoid deli meats altogether. However, if you must eat deli meats, take extra precautions such as heating it until steaming hot before consuming, washing your hands and kitchen surfaces thoroughly, and avoiding cross contamination with other foods.
Fish With High Mercury Levels
Some fish—including shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish—contain high levels of mercury, which can harm the nervous system of an unborn baby. Expectant mothers should also avoid eating raw fish during pregnancy; this means forgoing sushi until you welcome your baby into the world. It’s best to limit seafood consumption to no more than two servings per week, choosing cooked fish that’s low in mercury, such as canned light tuna, salmon, catfish, and shrimp. These are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for babies’ brain and eye development.
Soft Cheeses and Unpasteurized Dairy Products
Soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, feta, and blue cheese are typically made from unpasteurized milk, which can also contain listeria. Pregnant women should avoid these types of cheeses and opt for hard cheeses made from pasteurized milk, such as cheddar or Swiss. They should also avoid other unpasteurized dairy products such as raw milk, which carry the risk of foodborne illnesses. However, pasteurized dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are safe and provide essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame are generally recognized as safe, but limiting their consumption during pregnancy is still important. Some studies have linked high intake of artificial sweeteners with an increased risk of preterm delivery. Avoiding artificial sweeteners altogether and opting for natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup, which provide essential nutrients and antioxidants, are best. Moreover, a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can fulfill an expectant mom’s sugar cravings without compromising her health.
Undercooked eggs can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, which can cause severe illness. Though everyone should avoid eating undercooked food, expectant moms in particular should avoid it when pregnant. Steer clear of foods such as homemade Caesar salad dressing, raw cookie dough, and eggs with runny yolks. Cooking eggs until both the white and yolk are firm and avoiding raw or undercooked eggs in any form are very important. Fully cooked eggs provide essential nutrients such as protein, choline, and folate, all of which are essential for fetal development.