Pregnancy is often looked upon as the most wonderful phase in a woman’s life. Following a balanced diet plays a key role as you get ready to welcome your baby into the world. While you need more calcium, vitamins, iron and protein for your baby to develop and grow properly, you should pay close attention to avoiding certain foods and beverages that are considered harmful during pregnancy. While certain foods can be consumed rarely, others should be avoided completely.
Here are the foods and beverages that pregnant women should avoid –
Avoid drinking alcohol, especially during the first three months. According to CDC, there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant and all types of alcohol including wines and beer are equally harmful at this stage. Drinking even a small amount can negatively impact your baby’s brain development. It may also result in miscarriage, stillbirth or lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. Avoiding alcohol can also help prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
Fish with high levels of mercury
Seafood is a great source of protein, iron and zinc and can support your baby’s development. However, you need to avoid fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish as these have high mercury content and will damage your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Also avoid uncooked fish and shellfish, including oysters, sushi, sashimi and refrigerated uncooked seafood labeled nova style, lox, kippered, smoked or jerky (www.mayoclinic.com). Sea food low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids that are safe to eat include salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, freshwater trout, canned light tuna and pacific mackerel.
Limit caffeine intake
Besides coffee, caffeine is found in tea, soda, and cocoa and even some over-the-counter medications for headache. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. Increased caffeine intake can restrict fetal growth and lead to low birth weight, and also poses risk of miscarriage. Too much caffeine also increases blood pressure and heart rate.
Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk, cheese or fruit juice. Unpasteurized milk and cheese may contain harmful bacteria like Listeria, E. coli or Salmonella. Bacteria in such foods can occur naturally or be caused by contamination during collection or storage. Pasteurization process helps to kill such bacteri, without changing the nutritional value of the products.
Raw or undercooked meat
Uncooked or undercooked meat carries risk of bacterial or viral contamination and can cause food poisoning. Uncooked sea food can be contaminated with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, or salmonella. Also avoid raw eggs or foods that contain raw egg, due to the potential exposure to salmonella.
Avoid eating food that has a lot of sugar and salt. Avoid junk food and stick to healthy snacks between meals.
Read our blog on breast changes that can occur during pregnancy!