The old adage “eating for two” has a double meaning when you are pregnant. Not only do you need more nutrition for your growing baby, but you will need to be twice as careful about what you shy away from eating. Because a fetus grows so rapidly during gestation, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), certain foods should be avoided when you are pregnant.
Meat and Poultry
Pregnant women should avoid raw or undercooked meats at all times, due to the risk of the possibility of contamination from salmonella, coliform bacteria and toxoplasmosis. In addition, deli meats should be avoided unless they are heated until they steam as they can be contaminated with listeria. Listeria can cause infection or blood poisoning in the baby when it crosses the placenta and can also cause miscarriage. Refrigerated meat spreads, pates and pre-stuffed raw poultry should also be shunned, says the Mayo Clinic. Safe substitutes are canned spreads and pates as well as pre-stuffed poultry that is purchased and cooked in a frozen form.
Stay away from all raw and undercooked seafood, especially clams and oysters. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as lox, should not be eaten unless cooked in a hot dish; canned versions are fine.
Particular attention should be paid to localized fish consumption guidelines, as pollutant contamination may be in effect. Typically, this will apply to fresh water fish from the area in which you live; if no advisories are available, you should limit local fish consumption to 6 oz. per week and avoid other fish consumption that week.
Ocean fish that are high in mercury should not be eaten, either fresh or canned. Examples of these are king mackerel, swordfish, tilefish and shark. The Food Safety website carries a detailed chart of foods to avoid, including different types of fish.
Always cook eggs thoroughly before eating them. While all non-imported soft cheeses are made from pasteurized milk and are safe to eat, imported soft cheese is not regulated for pasteurization and should be avoided, unless the package clearly states that it is made from pasteurized milk. Do not eat any raw milk or raw milk products, such as cheese and ice cream, as they can carry listeria.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are necessary, but they should also be cleaned thoroughly. Take extra care to wash all produce thoroughly before eating. This will remove any pesticides and bacteria that may cling to the skin or rind. Also avoid unpasteurized raw juices.
While data is inconclusive, the APA says that some studies have shown that high caffeine consumption may cause miscarriage in the first trimester as well as low birth weights, premature births and caffeine withdrawal in newborns. High caffeine consumption is considered 300 milligrams or more per day; the safest path is to avoid caffeine altogether or severely restrict your consumption.
No alcohol whatsoever should be consumed while pregnant or lactating. Alcohol will harm the fetus and can cause irreparable damage. Developmental damage, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, has been directly linked to alcohol consumption at any stage of a pregnancy.