When you’re pregnant, the needs of your baby come first. Because of that important change in your life, there are certain foods to avoid during pregnancy. Removing these foods from your diet can keep you and your baby happy and healthy through all three trimesters. Additionally, avoiding these foods can help you steer clear of harmful bacteria like Salmonella and listeria that can lead to illness and even miscarriage. Here are 10 foods we recommend you avoid during pregnancy.
1. Unwashed Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a big part of the perfect pregnancy diet. Sure, you might be craving a hot fudge sundae—who wouldn’t—but that apple or carrot is better for you and better for the baby.
We recommend that you wash all the fruits and vegetables you choose to eat. When you wash your fruits and vegetables, you reduce the risk that you’ll be exposed to the parasite toxoplasmosis that can be found in the soil where these foods are grown.
When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s important to stop drinking alcohol immediately. Exposing your baby to alcohol in the womb—even at the earliest stages of development—can interfere with the healthy growth of the fetus. In extreme cases, it can even lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The next time you have a team-building night out with your co-workers, we recommend toasting to success with a glass of clean, clear water. And try ordering it neat or on the rocks for added fun.
Though you may love the grande latte you get every day, your baby will not. The caffeine in that latte can be absorbed by your baby. And because caffeine is a stimulant, it can cause changes in your baby’s sleep and normal movement patterns. Studies on animals have even shown that caffeine consumption can lead to birth defects, premature labor, and increased risk of low-birth weight. We suggest being better safe than sorry—cut the caffeine from your diet and you and your baby will rest easy.
4. Raw Eggs
Raw eggs may contain salmonella which can make you and your baby sick. Cooked eggs, and products that contain raw eggs but are cooked or baked at some point, are fine in moderation (yes, you can still have a cookie or two). But products like homemade ice cream, mayonnaise, and Hollandaise sauce should be avoided at all costs.
5. Unpasteurized Milk
Unpasteurized milk may contain the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes which can cause fever and other flu-like symptoms (listeriosis). In some cases, listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection. If you choose to include milk in your pregnancy diet, we suggest reaching for a cool glass of 2% pasteurized milk instead of the unpasteurized kind.
6. Imported Soft Cheese
Many imported soft cheeses are made with unpasteurized milk and can contain the listeria bacteria. For that reason, we recommend avoiding imported cheeses like brie, feta, Camembert, and Roquefort. That said, we know how good a sprinkle of feta can taste on your noon salad. Thankfully, all soft cheeses made in the U.S. are made with pasteurized milk and should be safe to eat. Check the ingredients label to be sure.
7. Avoid Fish With Mercury During Pregnancy
Fish can be an excellent source of the lean protein that is important during pregnancy. Unfortunately, much of the fish we eat contains mercury. And when mercury is consumed during pregnancy, it can lead to brain damage and developmental delays. We suggest staying away from king mackerel, swordfish, and shark both in the water and on your plate. Even canned tuna can contain mercury (albeit in lower amounts), so it’s a good idea to eat it only once or twice a week. If fish is a big part of your diet, talk to your Ob/Gyn for specific guidelines.
8. Raw Meat
Uncooked or undercooked meat is not usually a good idea even for those who aren’t pregnant. Sure, when you’re not pregnant you might get away with a bit here and there and feel no effects. But for pregnant women, it’s a food to avoid during pregnancy. Raw or undercooked beef, poultry, pork, and seafood can contain such bacteria as coliform, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. And while you may have developed a bit of immunity, your baby has not. Yes, there’s nothing like a good medium rare steak, but for the sake of your baby’s health, we encourage all pregnant women to fully cook all the meat they choose to eat.
9. Deli Meat
Here’s that listeria again! Yes, deli meats may contain this pesky bacteria that can lead to infection, blood poisoning, and even miscarriage. As such, they are one of the main foods to avoid during pregnancy. There are other, better ways to get the protein your baby needs so we recommend avoiding all types of deli meat. If you absolutely have to have a shaved ham sandwich for lunch, we strongly suggest you reheat the meat in a microwave until it is steaming. This can work to kill much of the bacteria in the meat.
10. Raw Shellfish
As you’ve learned in this article, aside from fruits and vegetables, raw foods like milk, meat, and eggs are no-nos when you’re pregnant. Raw shellfish is no different. In fact, even cooked shellfish still poses a threat thanks to algae-related infections. Shellfish eat algae, which remains in their bodies when they die. Cooking can remove some of the bacteria, but can’t get rid of it all. We recommend staying away from oysters, clams, and mussels during all nine months of your pregnancy.