Chances are you’ve heard that there are specific foods and nutrients that are encouraged for a healthy pregnancy. But what about food that is bad for pregnant women? We know that food cravings are a real thing, and sometimes you can’t help them. But before you dig in, we want to help you know what foods aren’t safe to eat while pregnant.
Here’s a list of foods to avoid during pregnancy:
- Raw meat. Raw or undercooked meat should be avoided during your pregnancy. When raw meat is consumed, you run the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, a bacterial infection caused by one of the most common parasites. Contracting this illness could harm you and even your baby, so it’s best to avoid raw and undercooked meat altogether.
- Deli meat. Similar to raw meat, deli meat can harbor a number of different types of bacteria (the Listeria bacteria is the most common), which can continue to grow on the meat even if it’s refrigerated. Although the chance of becoming infected with Listeria is small (only about 2,500 individuals are infected with this bacteria per year), a developing baby that comes into contact with this bacteria could suffer serious complications or even death.
- Fish with mercury (shark, swordfish, tuna- contains low levels, but should only be eaten in moderation). You’ve probably heard that pregnant women shouldn’t be eating large amounts of fish with mercury. Why is that, exactly? If you regularly eat fish with mercury, small amounts of mercury can actually accumulate within your bloodstream over a period of time. What’s more, an abundance of mercury in your bloodstream could result in neurological damage to your baby’s brain and nervous system. To be safe, pregnant women should limit fish intake to one serving (150g) of fish every two weeks.
- Smoked seafood. Eating smoked seafood presents the same challenge as deli meat in that it can carry listeria and eventually infect a pregnant woman with listeriosis. Listeriosis can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, as it poses the potential for stillbirths, miscarriages, and other complications.
- Raw shellfish (oysters, clams and mussels). Because raw shellfish (such as oysters or mussels) doesn’t require the fish to be cooked to a safe temperature, they aren’t safe foods to eat while pregnant. This is due to the potential for bacteria and other viruses.
- Raw eggs. As much as you might want to eat your eggs over easy or sunny side up, you should avoid consuming raw eggs if you’re pregnant. Eggs that are raw or undercooked can carry organisms like the Salmonella bacteria, which can result in food poisoning and other illnesses. This, in turn, can affect the baby in a negative manner.
- Soft cheeses (brie, feta, gorgonzola, queso blanco - avoid anything that is made from unpasteurized milk). Cheeses that are made from unpasteurized milk run the risk of carrying listeria. And as stated above, there’s a small chance that contracting listeriosis while pregnant could lead to a number of complications.
- Pate. Wondering what pate is? The word is French for “paste”. Traditionally made with a mixture of ground meat and fat, it’s usually consumed as either a paste, pie, or a loaf filled with meat. Although it’s not a raw dish, it’s generally made with liver, which could contain the bacteria listeria.
- Caffeine. Caffeine is especially important to avoid during your first trimester. Studies have shown that high intake levels of caffeine can be linked to miscarriage. Do not consume more than 200mgs of caffeine per day.
- Alcohol. While this might be the most obvious addition to the list, it’s certainly worth mentioning. Because you and Baby share nutrients, anything you consume is also “consumed” by Baby. And your baby—no matter at what stage in the pregnancy—is not able to process alcohol like your body can. Too much exposure to alcohol can lead to a number of developmental issues with your baby. Plus, consuming alcohol within the first trimester in particular increases the risk for miscarriage.
We know this list may seem intimidating, but luckily there are plenty of foods that you can safely consume while pregnant. Your nine months are sure to fly by, and chances are you’ll be so grateful you chose foods that are healthy for both you and your baby.