When you’re pregnant, you’re bound to get a lot of advice from your friends, family, well-wishers and sometimes even strangers. There are a plenty of old wives tales too that preach about the goodness and dangers of eating certain kinds of foods. All this can leave you pretty confused and stressed, especially when you’re craving to indulge on certain foods. But do remember, not all foods are safe for you as there is a high risk of food-poisoning or contracting an infection. It pays to know what foods to stay away from to keep your baby stay healthy and safe.
What Not To Eat During Pregnancy?
Fish Containing High Mercury
Certain varieties of fish like swordfish, king mackerel, shark contain high levels of mercury and should be completely avoided during pregnancy. High levels of mercury can damage the foetus’ nervous system and lead to other complications.
Uncooked or raw fish should also be avoided. Eating Raw shellfish like oysters can cause food poisoning.
To satisfy your fish cravings you could opt for the fresh water varieties. However you should keep in mind to limit yourself to 8-12 ounces or two servings a week. And don’t forget it should be low-mercury, freshly cooked fish like salmon, shrimp, trout etc.
Liver and liver products (liver sausages) contain dangerously high levels of Vitamin A. High intake of vitamin A during the first few months of pregnancy has been associated with birth defects.
A well-balanced, healthy diet is the best way to get your healthy dose of vitamin A.
If you’re a hard core coffee addict, it’s safe to restrict your intake during pregnancy to less than 200 mg / 2 cups per day. Studies show that high doses of caffeine during pregnancy can increase the risk of stillbirth and miscarriage. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it helps eliminate fluids from the body. This can lead to water and calcium loss.
Besides coffee, other beverages like tea, cola and energy drinks also contain coffee. You can replace these with plenty of water, juices and milk.
Milk and other dairy products are a rich source of calcium, protein and vitamin D. They are important for your baby’s teeth, bones, muscles and heart. However, you should be doubly careful that none of the dairy products you consume is unpasteurized. Unpasteurised milk may contain a bacteria called listeria which can cause miscarriage. Listeria could travel through the placenta and infect the baby leading to blood poisoning or infection.
Steer clear of poached and runny, raw eggs as it can lead to salmonella poisoning that can result in vomiting and diarrhea. Though unborn babies are spared from this poisoning, it can impact baby’s health and labour and lead to dehydration and early labour.
Eggs are a great source of protein. So if you must have your daily dose of egg, make sure its cooked until the yolk and egg white is firm. You may have to sacrifice tempting desserts and dips like mousse, mayonnaise which contain raw eggs.
Uncooked Meat And Poultry
Consuming cold and raw meat could pose a danger as they could be contaminated with the listeria bacteria. Both meat and poultry should be heated and cooked sufficiently, at least up to 73 degrees, to kill the bacteria.
Raw meat and poultry can also contain taxoplasma parasite which can cause food poisoning leading to vomiting and foetal damage.
The best way to ensure safety is to wash the meat and poultry thoroughly before cooking it.
Keep away from unpasteurized varieties of cheese like camembert, feta, goat and blue or other veined varieties as they may be contaminated with listeria bacteria which could trigger food poisoning. Since the immune system is weakened during pregnancy, it’s easy to contract these food borne diseases which could cause miscarriage or pre-term birth.
If you love your cheese, opt for the hard varieties. Cheddar, paramesan and swiss cheese are made of pasteurized milk. Always check the label and avoid foods that are “unpasteurized”.
Vegetables are a great source of nutrients and fibre and an important part of an expectant mother’s diet. But it could be risky to eat them at restaurants or outside eateries there is no guarantee of the quality of the veggies or the hygiene surroundings in which it is being chopped. Therefore the chances of it being infected with the listeria bacteria are quite high.
The best way to satisfy your salad cravings is to whip it up yourself at home in clean surrounds after washing them thoroughly.
Unwashed Veggies And Fruits
This may sound weird to you and wonder why this point is being stressed. But several people don’t realize the importance of washing vegetable and fruits before cooking and consuming them. By eating unwashed fruits and veggies, you could not only be ingesting harmful pesticides, but you could be infecting yourself through with the listeria bacteria and taxoplasma gondii parasite present on the skins. Both these could endanger the growing foetus’ life.
Tips & Tricks
If you water bag breaks, stay calm and call your gynaec. Wear a sanitary pad to protect your clothes and on the way to the hospital, use a plastic sheet to prevent the car seat from getting soiled.
Before buying a home pregnancy test kit, be sure to check the expiry date. For accurate results, take the test after one week after the missed period; testing very early, can give you negative results.
Dry fruits are a rich source of iron and contain high dietary fibre. They also meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy