Finding out you are going to be a mom will be one of the most exciting moments of your life. To ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and baby, it is very important to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet. Maintain a healthy diet throughout pregnancy by eating grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats, and beans. Eat small frequent meals throughout the day and NEVER skip breakfast.
In addition to foods you should eat, there are a group of foods you should avoid while pregnant. Here are 10 food and beverages you should avoid during your pregnancy:
- Foods high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna and tilefish. High levels of mercury can be toxic, and when consumed during pregnancy, it has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. Canned tuna has less mercury levels than fresh tuna. Limit any canned tuna and salmon intake to once per week.
- Raw fish and shellfish such as sushi, oysters, clams and scallops. Under cooked or raw fish and shellfish can contain harmful viruses and bacteria like Norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Listeria. Some of these may only affect the mother and cause an upset stomach, diarrhea and dehydration, while others may affect the baby too and cause harmful, sometime fatal, consequences.
- Raw eggs. Raw eggs can contain Salmonella, so avoid anything that may contain them such as homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custards and hollandaise sauce.
- Raw meat and pate. Raw meat and pate can contain harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites such as coliform bacteria, Toxoplasmosis and Salmonella. These can all cause mom to become very sick and can cause even more harmful consequences to an unborn baby including severe neurological disorders, intellectual disabilities, blindness and epilepsy. Always use a meat thermometer to make sure you are cooking all your meat to the proper temperature.
- Packaged meat like deli meats or hot dogs. These types of meat have been known to carry Listeria, which can cause a miscarriage. If you are craving deli meat during your pregnancy, you should reheat your deli meat until it is steaming.
- Soft unpasteurized cheese such as brie, Gouda, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, feta and Mexican-style cheese like Queso Fresco. These types of imported, soft cheeses may contain Listeria which can be harmful to mom and life threatening to an unborn baby. Pregnant women should only eat pasteurized cheese.
- Unwashed produce. Produce can contain a host of bacteria and parasites such as Toxoplasma, E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria all of which can harm your unborn baby. Make sure you thoroughly wash all your produce or peel the skin prior to consuming.
- Unpasteurized milk and juice. Like soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk and juice can lead to food borne illnesses because they can contain Listeria. Make sure all milk and juice products you are consuming are pasteurized.
- Excess caffeine. Caffeine intake should be limited to 200 milligrams per day. One 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine. Caffeine is absorbed quickly, and it can pass through the placenta. High levels of caffeine have been shown to restrict fetal growth and increase the risk of low birth weight. Try to drink no more than 2 cups of coffee a day.
- Alcohol. Women who are pregnant should completely avoid alcohol during their pregnancy due to risks of miscarriages or still births. Large consumptions of alcohol can also lead to developmental issues in your baby’s brain, and it can cause fetal alcohol syndrome which can cause facial deformities, heart defects and intellectual disabilities.
Having good diet during your pregnancy is essential. To ensure you are avoiding any unnecessary risks, avoid all foods listed. Continue to consult your Ochsner OB/GYN on your diet throughout your pregnancy. Keep them up to date with any changes in your eating habits.