While pregnant, you may experience an increase in appetite, wanting to eat almost constantly to help your body nourish your growing baby, or you may experience a drastic decrease in appetite due to fatigue and nausea.
You may even experience weird cravings, such as pickles, olives, candy or even dirt! No matter what you are going through, it’s important that you eat a nutrient-rich and balanced diet as discussed with your doctor, but there are definitely some foods and drinks that pregnant women should avoid for the health of their developing babies.
- Be cautious about fish. Although fish is a healthy source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, high levels of mercury found in large fish, such as swordfish, shark and king mackerel, can be harmful to your baby’s development. The FDA advises that a woman may safely eat up to 12 ounces per week of cooked fish. Pregnant women should never eat raw fish!
- Never eat raw eggs. Eating raw eggs poses the risk of contracting salmonella, bacteria that is harmful to your baby. This means no licking the spoon while baking and double-checking salad dressing ingredients when dining out. Caesar dressing may be made with raw eggs, as could homemade mayonnaise. Also, remember to scramble eggs thoroughly for a safe, protein-rich meal.
- Avoid sprouts. Pregnant women are strongly encouraged to avoid eating all sprouts because bacteria are nearly impossible to remove from the seeds. Order salads and sandwiches with the spouts removed, and be careful, as many Asian dishes are made with them.
- Unpasteurized products are dangerous. While the FDA reports that only two percent of juices sold in the United States are unpasteurized, pregnant women should check labels carefully just to be sure. Unpasteurized juices, such as fresh-squeezed orange juice may contain bacteria harmful to your baby. Juices are a great source of hydration and nutrients, but always make sure that you aren’t getting a dose of E. coli in your glass!
- Say no to some cheeses. Soft cheeses that are made with unpasteurized milk, such as feta and brie, should be avoided when pregnant because they could contain Listeria, a bacteria known for causing serious health issues for developing babies. Some restaurants, such as Indian restaurants serving paneer, may make their own cheese, so it’s important to check that they use pasteurized milk in the process.
- Give up caffeine. Coffee, soda and tea all contain caffeine, which is not recommended for pregnant women. Because you share your blood with your baby, once caffeine enters your system, you are also giving that jolt to your baby. Caffeine causes an increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can be harmful to you and your baby while pregnant.
The Bottom Line:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of food and drinks that pregnant women should not consume. Always talk to your doctor first if you aren’t 100 percent certain about a food or beverage, and contact your doctor if you think you have contracted a food-borne illness or come into contact with contaminated food. Remember, what you feed yourself, you are also feeding your baby.