10 foods to avoid while pregnant


There are some kinds of foods which should be avoided when pregnant. Some may harm the health of the expectant mother, some, the developing baby, as they may contain harmful bacteria or toxins.

Here are 10 of the most common foods to avoid if you’re expecting, and why:

1. Avoid soft and unpasteurised cheese

Not all cheeses are harmful, but you should avoid mould-ripened cheeses such as blue cheeses, brie, camembert, Danish Blue, and Roquefort, for example. These may contain listeria bacteria which could cause listeriosis, which, at worst, could lead to still-birth or miscarriage.

2. Avoid undercooked and processed meats 

The rule is not to eat raw or undercooked meats while you’re pregnant. Make sure that all meat is well cooked. Either avoid processed meats such as hot dogs and polony, or make sure that they are completely cooked. This is because the risk of food poisoning is higher in pregnant women.

3. Avoid paté

Paté made from meats may also carry the listeria bacteria. Avoid eating it while pregnant.

4. Avoid raw fish

Raw fish should be avoided, as well as fish with potentially high mercury content such as older, larger fish like swordfish, shark and king mackerel. Mercury could create problems with the development of your baby’s nervous system. Shellfish should be avoided if the expectant mom is not sure if she is allergic. Scientists do say, however, that fish may be eaten during pregnancy – as with all things – in moderation.

5. Avoid raw eggs

Raw eggs (and foods cooked using raw eggs) may contain salmonella, a harmful bacterium. Some homemade mayonnaises, mousses, salad dressings and sauces contain raw egg, as does raw batter. Eggs may be eaten if properly cooked, all the way through.

6. Avoid unpasteurised milk

Don’t drink raw (unpasteurised) milk, or cheeses made from it, such as goat’s cheese. If that’s all you have available, boil it before consuming it.

7. Wash all fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are great, but only if they have been washed thoroughly to remove all traces of soils. Soil on fruits and vegetables may cause toxoplasmosis, caused by a parasite. Toxoplasmosis has potentially devastating effects on an unborn baby. Ecoli is another risk hiding in certain fresh leaves.

8. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol may severely affect your baby’s development. Avoid alcohol if pregnant or even trying to conceive.

9. Limit caffeine

Caffeine intake should be limited during pregnancy, as too much caffeine has been linked to low birth weight and even miscarriage. It doesn’t have to be cut out altogether, but intake should be limited to 200mg per day. Remember that some cola fizzy drinks contain caffeine, and check the ingredients so you know how much you’re consuming.

10. Liver

Liver, or products containing liver, such as vitamin supplements, has a high vitamin A content. This vitamin doesn't break down in your body and can build up to levels toxic to your baby. 

If you are used to a special or restricted diet, or unsure about what to eat while pregnant, do consult your GP, dietician or specialist about what is safe. Make sure you trust the supermarkets or suppliers where you buy your food. 

Have you changed the way you eat during pregnancy? 

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