Nutrition is an important aspect of an overall healthy pregnancy. A fetus relies on a mother’s nutritional choices during every stage, from conception through breast feeding after birth. During pregnancy, most women are focused on getting the best nutrition for their babies while also indulging in those prominent cravings. Specific dietary preferences should always be discussed with a doctor to ensure nutritional adequacy, and every pregnant woman should learn about harmful selections to prevent illness as well as possible health consequences to an unborn baby. Here is a list of eight main foods that are considered off-limits for pregnant women.
Sushi is a combination of raw fish, rice and vegetables. Sushi rolls are commonplace in Japan, although they are increasing in popularity in the United States. While you don’t have to avoid your favorite trendy sushi restaurant entirely, you do need to avoid raw fish on the menu during pregnancy. If you’re in doubt about the contents of a certain food, ask the waiter first.
2. Unwashed or Contaminated Produce
Eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables is even more crucial during pregnancy. However, you may undo any efforts of eating well if you fail to wash your produce. Even organic versions should be rinsed properly before consumption to get rid of bacteria. Also take care not to prepare produce on the same surfaces as other foods in order to prevent contamination.
3. Select Fish
While fish is normally considered a good source of healthy fats, certain selections should be avoided during pregnancy because high mercury levels may adversely affect the fetus. The main types of fish to avoid include king mackerel, swordfish and shark. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may safely eat six ounces of canned tuna per week, as well as salmon, Pollock, catfish, tilapia, cod, crab and shrimp.
4. Deli Meats
To some pregnant women, nothing sounds better than a large sub sandwich from the local deli. Before you start piling on your favorite thin sliced selections, it is important to know that deli meats are not considered particularly healthy during pregnancy. Processed meats such as these can carry the risk of listeriosis, a type of food-borne illness that can cause miscarriage or birth defects. If you must indulge in processed meats, make sure you cook them first to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.
5. Poached or Sunny-side Up-Style Eggs
Eggs are a great source of protein, but only if they are fully cooked. This means that your favorite poached and Sunny-side up eggs are off-limits during pregnancy, due to the risk of salmonella poisoning. Also avoid foods that contain raw eggs, such as uncooked cookie dough, Caesar salads, tiramisu and eggnog.
Decades ago, drinking alcohol during pregnancy wasn’t thought much of in terms of safety hazards to babies. However, studies increasingly show that even the most miniscule levels of alcohol during pregnancy can be harmful. According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol consumption can lead to brain damage, heart disease, mental retardation and stillbirth. For this reason, no amount is considered safe to drink during any stage of pregnancy—this includes heart-healthy red wines.
7. Unpasteurized Dairy & Juice Products
The process of pasteurization is widely utilized in the food market in order to kill bacteria. Cold foods, such as milk and juice, are cooked through pasteurization before being brought down in temperature to promote safety. Due to the possibility of bacterial content, pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized milk and juice.
8. Coffee & Herbal Tea
Coffee and tea consumption is commonly debated during pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic recommends no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, which may be achieved through a large cup of coffee. Any more caffeine than the recommended amount can cause hyperactivity and an increased heart rate, as well as the risk for miscarriage. Herbal tea should be avoided entirely because there aren’t enough studies out there to prove its safety during pregnancy.
For most pregnant women, eating perfectly is easier said than done. Between morning sickness during the first trimester to unhealthy food cravings throughout pregnancy, avoiding certain foods can seem almost impossible. First, it is important to know how to properly address morning sickness. At this point you may not have much of an appetite, but it is still important to eat as many healthy foods as you can to support your growing baby. In conjunction with a prenatal vitamin, consider eating foods you might eat if you had the flu, such as healthy soups, crackers, breads, cereals and fruit. Call your doctor if you can’t keep anything down at all and if you start to lose weight.
Another common obstacle is working to satisfy unhealthy food cravings. Some women crave sushi during pregnancy, for example, but such foods are considered unsafe. It is important to try to satisfy your cravings while keeping safety in mind. Taking the sushi example, you might consider eating vegetable rolls in lieu of raw fish instead.
Parents have a lot of responsibility when they have children, which includes providing all the nutrition that their babies need. However, providing the right nutrition is required from day one before your baby is even born. This is why avoiding potentially harmful foods is just as important as making sure you eat the most nutritionally sound choices for you and your baby.