During your pregnancy, you must be extra careful when it comes to food. Now that you have a little one growing inside you it’s time to adapt your diet. While certain products provide you with all the nutrients and vitamins you need for your baby’s development, there are also certain foods that you should avoid as they may contain bacteria that could provoke miscarriage or preterm delivery, such as toxoplasma, listeria and salmonella.
Rare or undercooked meat like beef, pork, lamb or poultry can be contaminated with toxoplasmosis and salmonella. To prevent any risk of infection, always make sure your meat is cooked medium-well to well-done.
Cold meats should be eliminated from your diet as they might be contaminated by listeria. Indeed, listeriosis can cause miscarriage or premature birth. Thus, before eating a ham or salami sandwich during your lunch break, reheat the meat until it steams to kill the bacteria. It’s the same for refrigerated pâtés or any meat spreads, as they can also contain listeria. Not all pâtés have to be eliminated from your diet though. You can enjoy canned ones!
Some fishes are known to be contaminated with mercury, a neurotoxin that can affect and severely damage your baby’s brain development. Fishes with a high-level of mercury include shark, king mackerel, tilefish, swordfish, and albacore tuna. However, you can eat canned light tuna as it contains low mercury levels. Don’t enjoy it more than twice a week though! If well cooked, salmon is good for you thanks to the omega-3 fatty acid it contains, which is excellent for your baby’s development.
According to the NHS, eating sushi is usually safe. However, those made with fish that contain a high level of mercury are not to be consumed. If you love sushi always make sure that they have been frozen first, and to avoid any risk, give your preference to the ones with cooked meat or fish. Bon appétit!
As for fish and meat, always cook seafood before consumption during your pregnancy. Uncooked seafood might be contaminated by dangerous bacteria. Avoid raw or undercooked shellfish like oysters, scallops, and mussels, as these can cause food poisoning.
Don’t eat raw and undercooked eggs as they can be contaminated with salmonella. Abstain from soft boiled eggs and be careful with certain sauces such as Caesar salad dressing, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream, custard and other recipes that might contain uncooked eggs. If you are eating in a restaurant, it’s best to be aware of the ingredients before ordering. However, you can continue to enjoy eggs if you buy them refrigerated. Moreover, always check if there are any cracks on the shell, store them in the fridge and always cook them enough to prevent any risk of food poisoning.
Camembert, Brie, goat’s cheese, feta, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or any other blue-veined cheeses are to be avoided during pregnancy. If unpasteurized, soft cheeses might be contaminated with listeria. However, cheese lovers rest assured; you can devour aged and hard cheeses like Cheddar or Parmesan, as any bacteria will have been eradicated during the cheesemaking process. Those made with pasteurized milk are also okay.
As stated above, unpasteurized milk might be contaminated with listeria, a disease that can seriously harm your baby. Pasteurized low-fat milk and yogurt are good though: they are full of calcium, which is great for your bones.
Unwashed vegetables and fruits
Including vegetables and fruits in your diet during your pregnancy is necessary, as they are full of vitamins and nutrients which are good for you and your baby. However, you must always ensure that you wash them carefully before consumption. Vegetables might have been exposed to toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by toxoplasma which are usually harmless for adults but potentially dangerous for your baby.
Beers, cocktails, wines and all alcoholic drinks are to be completely avoided during the entire pregnancy. Alcohol can damage your baby’s development as it passes through the placenta. If you drink a glass of wine, your baby drinks it too! This can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, a group of conditions that can, for instance, lead to learning disabilities or nervous system damage. Be careful with pastries that might contain alcohol too.
Coffee, tea, energy drinks, cola or any other beverages that contain caffeine are to be consumed in moderation. Drinking high doses of them could cause miscarriage, and it’s best to completely refrain from it during the first trimester when the risk is higher. Limit your consumption to 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, or opt for decaffeinated drinks.