It’s always a good idea to eat healthy and nutritious foods, but it’s even more important when you are pregnant. Good eating habits will help ensure that you deliver a healthy baby. Babies need certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients to develop. Just as there are certain foods you should eat when you are pregnant, there are also certain types of foods to avoid.
What to Avoid
Avoid foods that carry food-borne illnesses. Soft cheeses, such as goat, feta, Brie, blue cheese, Mexican-style cheeses and Camembert, are risky, as is unpasteurized milk and juice. Avoid raw eggs and foods that use raw eggs, such as Caesar dressing (usually not the store-bought kind) and raw cookie dough. Don’t eat undercooked meat, sushi or raw shellfish, such as oysters or clams. Avoid deli meats and hot dogs unless you get them steaming hot first. Also avoid smoked salmon.
What Can Happen
Foods that contain food-borne illnesses can be life threatening to your baby or they can cause birth defects or miscarriage. The risk of you contracting bacteria or salmonella from raw foods are too great for you to take the chance. Deli meats and smoked salmon can be contaminated with listeria, which can infect your baby or cause blood poisoning.
About Mercury in Fish
You need some fish to balance a healthy diet because of the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Good fish to eat when you are pregnant are salmon, shrimp, canned, light (not white) tuna, catfish and pollock. Eat the good types of fish twice a week. Avoid fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, king mackerel and tuna steak. Mercury can damage the fetus brain and nervous system.
Tell your doctor about any prescription medication you take to determine whether it is safe for the baby. If not, you may be able to take a substitute. Some over-the-counter medications can be dangerous, too, so discuss any sort of medication with your doctor before taking it.
Drugs and Alcohol
No amount of alcohol is safe to drink while you are pregnant because the alcohol passes on to your baby. Babies cannot eliminate alcohol as easily as adults can, so a high concentration of alcohol stays in the baby’s system longer than it does in yours. Alcohol can cause abnormalities, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes mental and physical defects. If you use illicit drugs, you can deliver prematurely, have a baby with birth defects or behavior or learning difficulties. If you smoke while you are pregnant, you could deliver a baby with low birth weight, a premature baby or a baby who has respiratory problems. You can have some caffeine if your body tolerates it without causing morning sickness. Limit your caffeine consumption to no more than 2 cups of coffee a day.