What Foods Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?

What Foods Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to think carefully about the food you eat. Not only do you need to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients to support your baby’s growth, but there are also certain foods you should avoid.

While it’s generally safe to eat most foods during pregnancy, there are some that can be dangerous for your baby’s health. These include cold cut and deli meats, soft cheeses, fish high in mercury, and sushi and sashimi.

In this article, we’ll discuss the potential risks of eating these foods while pregnant, as well as some tips for making them safe. Read on to learn more about what you should and shouldn’t eat during pregnancy.

Table of Contents

Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses can be dangerous for pregnant women to eat, as they can often be made with unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk can contain listeria, which can cause a miscarriage or preterm delivery. If the listeria is contracted late in the pregnancy, it can also infect the baby.

Newborns who are infected with listeria can develop meningitis or a bloodstream infection. Unfortunately, 6% of infected newborns can die. Small-batch artisan cheeses are also often unpasteurized, so it’s important to be aware of this.

That said, pregnant women can still enjoy cheese as long as it is made from pasteurized milk. Many soft cheeses in grocery stores are pasteurized, so it’s worth double checking the label.

If you are eating out, make sure to ask your server for information about the cheese. Additionally, cooked cheese such as chicken parmesan is safe to eat even if it is made with unpasteurized cheese.

Cold Cut & Deli Meat

When it comes to cold cut and deli meat, there is a small risk of listeria, especially in fresh deli-counter meats. Additionally, it is best to avoid rotisserie chickens and turkey breasts in the refrigerated case. This is because listeria can survive in cold temperatures.

Fortunately, there is a way to make deli meat safe. Meat that is steaming or heated through is generally safe to eat, as it will kill any listeria bacteria. Pre-packaged cold cuts from the refrigerated section are the safest option, as there is less handling involved which means less germs get spread.

Fish High In Mercury

Fish that are large and have been around for a long time tend to have the highest levels of mercury, which can harm a developing baby’s nervous system, as well as impact their kidneys, vision, hearing, and lungs.

When it comes to fish high in mercury, it is best to avoid swordfish, king mackerel, tuna, saltwater bass and canned solid white albacore tuna.

It is important to remember that DHA is important for a baby’s brain development, and can be found in seafood and flaxseed.

Pregnant women should aim to eat up to 12 ounces of “safe fish” a week, including shrimp, haddock, cod, salmon, catfish, and flounder. Furthermore, a maximum of three to six ounces of canned light tuna a week is also recommended.

Sushi and Sashimi

When it comes to sushi and sashimi, it is important to be aware of the potential risks. Raw fish may contain bacteria or microbes that can cause food poisoning, and parasites in fish can be hard to treat during pregnancy. Sushi can also contain high levels of mercury.

Fortunately, there are some types of sushi that are safe to eat while pregnant, such as eel, crab, and tempura-style sushi. Avocado and cucumber rolls are also okay, as well as California rolls.

Raw and Runny Eggs

Eating raw and runny eggs carries a risk of salmonella and other food-borne illnesses during pregnancy, and can be found in Caesar salad dressing and raw cookie dough.

That said, you can still eat eggs as long as they are cooked through. Eggs are a great source of protein and choline, with choline helping to boost fetal brain development and prevent birth defects. Additionally, most store bought Caesar dressing is not made with raw eggs, so this is usually safe. To be extra cautious, it’s best to avoid freshly prepared Caesar dressing at restaurants.

Spicy Foods

Eating spicy foods while pregnant can lead to heartburn, so sufferers of GERD should be especially careful. That said, heartburn won’t hurt the baby, but it can feel bad.

It is also important to note that rumors that eating peppers, curries, Tabasco, etc will induce labor are false. There is no evidence that spicy food brings on labor.

That said, a little bit of hot chips to satisfy your cravings won’t hurt.

The Final Word

At the end of the day, your health and your baby’s health should be your top priority during your pregnancy. It’s important to understand what foods are safe to eat and what foods should be avoided, and to be aware of any food safety guidelines that might apply to you.

As long as you keep these tips in mind and enjoy a balanced diet, you can be sure your baby is getting the vital nutrients they need while staying safe and healthy.

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