Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful, fascinating and memorable times in a woman’s life. As a soon-to-be mother, you want to do exactly what’s best for the tiny human growing inside your womb. Your baby becomes your priority and you’re aware that you now eat for two. Before becoming pregnant, you may have gotten used to chugging coffee in the morning to get your day started. You might also have enjoyed a glass of wine with supper every night. While pregnant however, these habits should be halted. There are some pretty significant diet changes that should happen when you find out you’re expecting, because what you consume is passed on to your baby.
Here are nine foods that you should avoid during pregnancy to ensure healthy development for your bundle of joy:
1. Undercooked, processed & raw meat
Improperly cooked meat and even processed meats should be avoided during pregnancy because they can harbour dangerous bacteria like E-Coli, salmonella and Listeria. The consequences of infection vary from mental illness and other neurological disorders in the baby to spontaneous abortion.
2. High-toxin fish
High-mercury fish like mackerel, swordfish, shark and tuna contain higher-than-normal levels of mercury, a toxic element found mostly in large, polluted seas. Mercury poisoning can lead to various health issues for mom and baby, including dehydration, exhaustion, lowered immune function, impaired renal (kidney) functions, and nervous system toxicity. Pregnant women are advised to eat high-mercury fish no more than twice a month.
3. Raw Eggs & Cheese
Food-borne illnesses can occur when you consume cheeses made of unpasteurized milk. Salmonella is the most common bacteria found in raw eggs, and Salmonellosis can cause nausea, fever and stomach cramps in a pregnant woman. Cook the eggs thoroughly before eating and avoid homemade mayo, hollandaise sauce, poached eggs, homemade ice cream, and homemade cake icing, especially when eating out.
Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world, as it is present in coffee, many teas, soft drinks and cocoa. Pregnant women are advised to consume no more than 2 cups of coffee a day, or 200 mg of caffeine. More than that and the caffeine can seep directly through the placenta to the fetus. Babies don’t have the capacity to metabolize caffeine, causing the substance to build up in the fetus.
Anything raw should be avoided during pregnancy. Sprouts may contain bacteria in the seeds, which are risky for a pregnant woman. If the sprouts are cooked then it is fine to consume them.
Studies show that unripe papayas contain pepsins that can cause contractions and lead to miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. Instead of worrying whether papayas are ripe enough to eat, pregnant women should simply choose to avoid papaya altogether.
7. Readymade processed foods
Many pre-packaged foods contain a variety of additives, preservatives, artificial colour and flavours, and modified ingredients. One particular flavour enhancer frequently used is monosodium glutamate, or MSG. MSG is harmful for the baby as it can cause brain defects and cancer.
Some women think duh, that’s obvious! But for some, it is very tempting to think one drink won’t harm their baby. In reality, even a small amount of alcohol in the system of a pregnant woman can be detrimental to baby’s brain development. The safest choice is to stay away from alcohol completely during the entire pregnancy.
9. Raw fish – Sushi
Norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, Listeria and parasites… A short list of very nasty infections that can turn the happiest time of your life into a nightmare. These infections are dangerous, not because they can leave mom dehydrated and malnourished for a few days, but because they can directly target baby. Sometimes, mom has no symptoms at all, but baby is affected and the results can be fatal. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to Listeria, a bacteria found in contaminated soil and water. Raw fish can become contaminated through the handling, smoking, and drying processes. For that reason, pregnant women should avoid raw fish and shellfish completely. Sorry, sushi-lovers!