The first thing most women learn when they get pregnant is what they can and can’t eat. This can be a huge deal if you’re a big fan of sushi, coffee, or rare steak.
Fortunately, you can eat more than you can’t. You just have to learn to navigate the waters. You will need to be very careful about what you eat or drink to stay healthy.
Some foods should be eaten only rarely, while others should be avoided completely. Here are 11 foods and drinks to avoid or minimize during pregnancy.
High mercury fish
Mercury is a very toxic element. It has no known safe level of exposure and is most often found in dirty water.
In larger quantities, it can be toxic to your nervous system, immune system, and kidneys. It can also cause serious developmental problems in children, with adverse effects even in smaller amounts.
Because it is found in polluted seas, large marine fish can accumulate large amounts of mercury. As a result, it is best to avoid mercury-rich fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Mercury-rich fish you want to avoid include:
- king mackerel
- tuna (especially bigeye tuna)
- Gulf of Mexico tilefish
- orange roughy
However, it is important to notice that not all fish are high in mercury – only certain types.
Eating low-mercury fish during pregnancy is healthy, and these fish can be consumed up to three times a week (according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Low-mercury fish are abundant and include:
- wading fish
- trout (freshwater)
Oily fish such as salmon and anchovies are particularly good alternatives because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for your baby.
Undercooked, raw, and processed meat
Eating undercooked or raw meat can increase the risk of infection with several bacteria or parasites, including Toxoplasma, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella.
Bacteria can threaten your baby’s health, leading to stillbirth or serious neurological diseases, including intellectual disability, blindness, and epilepsy.
While most bacteria are found on the surface of whole cuts of meat, other bacteria can be found inside the muscle fibers.
Some whole cuts of meat, such as fillets, sirloins, or ribeye from beef, lamb, and veal, are safe to eat if not fully cooked. However, this only applies when the piece of meat is whole or uncut and fully cooked on the exterior.
Cut meat, including meat patties, hamburgers, ground meat, pork, and poultry, should never be eaten raw or undercooked. So keep those burgers on the grill well done for now.
Hot dogs, lunch meat, and deli meats are also of concern, which is sometimes surprising for pregnant women. These types of meat can become infected with various bacteria during processing or storage.
Pregnant women should not eat processed meat products unless they have been warmed to the point of being hot.
Raw eggs can be infected with Salmonella bacteria.
Symptoms of Salmonella infections include fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, and diarrhea.
However, in some rare cases, the infection can cause cramping in the uterus, resulting in early birth or stillbirth.
The foods that usually contain raw eggs include:
- lightly scrambled eggs
- poached eggs
- Hollandaise sauce
- homemade mayonnaise
- some homemade salad dressings
- homemade ice cream
- homemade cake frostings
Most commercial products containing raw eggs are made with pasteurized eggs and are safe to eat. However, you should always read the label to be sure.
To be safe, always cook eggs properly or use pasteurized eggs. Save those super runny yolks and homemade egg mayonnaise until your baby makes his debut.
You may be one of those millions of people who enjoy their daily cups of coffee, tea, soda, or cocoa. You are certainly not alone when it comes to your love of caffeine.
It is generally advised that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams (mg) per day, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Since caffeine is quickly absorbed, it can easily pass through the placenta. Because babies and their placentas lack the key enzyme needed to metabolize caffeine, high levels can accumulate.
High consumption of caffeine during pregnancy has been shown to reduce fetal growth and may increase the risk of having a low birth weight at delivery.
Low birth weight – defined as less than 5 lbs, 8 oz. (or 2.5 kg) – is associated with an increased risk of infant death and an increased risk of chronic disease in adulthood.
So be sure to keep an eye on your daily cup of coffee or soda to make sure your baby isn’t receiving too much caffeine.
There are several bacteria and parasites that can be found on the surface of unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables.
These include Toxoplasma, E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, which can be acquired from the soil or by handling.
Infection can happen at any time during production, harvesting, processing, storage, transportation, or retailing. One harmful parasite that can linger on fruits and vegetables is called Toxoplasma.
The majority of people with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms, while others may feel like they have the flu for a month or longer.
Most of the infants infected with the Toxoplasma bacteria while they’ However, symptoms such as blindness or intellectual disability may develop later in life.
During pregnancy, it is very important to minimize the risk of infection by carefully washing with water, peeling, or cooking fruits and vegetables. Keep it a good habit after the baby arrives.
It is recommended that you totally avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy, as it will increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Drinking a small number of Alcohol products can have a significant negative impact on the development of your baby’s brain.
Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can also lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which includes facial deformities, heart defects, and intellectual disability.
Since no amount of alcohol has been scientifically proven to be safe during pregnancy, we recommend avoiding it completely.
Processed junk foods
Now is the best time to start eating nutrient-rich foods to help you and your growing toddler. You’ll need more amounts of many essential nutrients, such as protein, folate, choline, and iron.
It’s also a myth that you’re “eating for two. You could eat as you normally would during the first half of your pregnancy, and then increase by about 350 calories per day during your second trimester and about 450 calories per day during your third trimester.
An ideal diet during pregnancy would primarily consist of whole foods, with a lot of nutrients to meet the needs of you and your baby. The most common processed junk food is low in nutrients and high in calories, sugar, and added fats.
While some extra weight is necessary during pregnancy, gaining too much weight has been linked to many health complications and diseases. Some of these include an increased risk of gestational diabetes, as well as pregnancy and childbirth complications.
Keep eating meals and snacks that focus on protein, vegetables and fruit, healthy fats, and high-fiber carbohydrates like whole grains, beans, and starchy vegetables. Do not worry, there are plenty of ways to include vegetables in your meals without losing the taste.