Practically every woman knows that it is important to manage nutritional intake before, during, and after pregnancy. A pregnant woman should typically consume about 300 calories more than she did during pre-pregnancy; however this is dependent on her current physical health and weight. Only a doctor can advise the best weight gain for each woman during pregnancy.
Once a doctor has prescribed the appropriate weight gain, it’s time to take a look at the dietary intake. Eating a diet filled with fresh vegetables, fruits, healthy protein and fiber sources, and plenty of water is essential. But it is just as critical tol take a look at what should not be consumed during pregnancy. There are some foods which can cause pregnancy-related problems and a few may even lead to miscarriage. Knowing what not to eat is as important as knowing what to eat during pregnancy.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Most women know the importance of avoiding caffeine during pregnancy. Caffeine is absolutely bad for mom and baby. Many foods contain caffeine and it’s important to read labels. Chocolate is just one obvious food to avoid. Coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, puddings, frozen yogurt, and hot chocolate are more foods that contain harmful caffeine.
In addition, it is well-known that alcohol is extremely bad for the baby during pregnancy and can cause serious problems including fetal alcohol syndrome, miscarriage, or other complications. It is important to eliminate alcohol intake from the diet during the preconception period (prior to pregnancy) as well as during pregnancy and after delivery while breast-feeding.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
The following includes an additional list of foods to be avoided during pregnancy. This is not an exhaustive list and as mentioned earlier, only a doctor can answer specific questions for each individual woman about the best nutritional plan for her specific needs.
During pregnancy women should avoid raw meat at all costs, and that includes meats that are ‘rare’ – this is a dangerous food to consume during pregnancy. Raw or rare meats can contain bacteria and Salmonella that may cross the placenta. These things can be particularly harmful to a fetus and can cause serious illness for mom too. Stay away from the ‘rare’ meats to avoid serious infection or illness.
Just like meat, raw eggs should be totally avoided. That includes any food that contains raw eggs such as Caeser dressing or health drinks containing them. Always read labels when purchasing prepared foods to ensure they do not contain raw eggs.
Although fish has many positive vitamins and minerals most of the time, fish should be carefully managed during pregnancy. Shark, tilefish, and tuna can contain high levels of mercury and other minerals that can lead to serious health problems for the fetus during pregnancy by attacking the baby’s nervous system. Even shellfish such as oysters and mussels can be harmful if eaten raw or under-cooked. Definitely stay away from the sushi bar during pregnancy.
Another often overlooked food that should be avoided during pregnancy is deli meat of any kind. Bologna, hot dogs, and turkey can cause serious problems and potentially miscarriage so stay away from the deli counter during pregnancy. Sandwiches made with freshly roasted chicken or other healthy well-cooked meats and fresh vegetables are recommended.
Speaking of the deli counter, that’s where you’ll usually find loads of delicious cheeses, but just like deli meat, exercise caution when consuming cheese. Listeria is a serious infection that results from consumption of many cheeses. Never consume imported cheese or cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Read labels carefully. Some example of cheeses to avoid are Bleu cheese. Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Brie which typically are imported or made from unpasteurized milk. Mexican restaurants often offer chips with Queso as an appetizer and Queso should be avoided too. Bacteria thrives in many cheeses and can cause problems during pregnancy.
Unpasteurized milk, just like cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, should not be consumed during pregnancy. The fetus can contract blood poisoning or infection from unpasteurized milk.
Pregnancy is a time when women should consume nutritional foods for the health and safety of their unborn baby. But they should also know what not to eat during pregnancy too. Taking care of an unborn baby means taking responsibility for every action taken before and during pregnancy.
To give babies their best start in life, give them good healthy nutrition during pregnancy. Both mother and baby will benefit from healthy choices.