During pregnancy it’s important to consider both mother and baby’s dietary needs, and even though you are eating for two there are some foods to be avoided to ensure your baby has a bright and healthy start in life.
Fruit and Vegetables
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is recommended to boost your vitamin intake, but ensure you rinse fresh fruit, salad and vegetables in warm water first to avoid traces of soil which may contain toxoplasma. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that can cause brain damage or blindness in your unborn child. Also avoid moldy fruit and vegetables all together. Specialists also recommend not eating grapes in your last trimester due to their high heat content. There is also some evidence that papaya – a fruit rich in latex can trigger uterine contractions and encourage early labor. However ripe papaya is a great source of vitamins during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are encouraged to include at least two eggs a day into their diet as it aids the development of the baby’s brain and retina. Be very careful to ensure the eggs are cooked properly and avoid any raw egg products such as homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, custards and fresh Caesar dressing. Store bought products are generally fine in this area but raw or undercooked eggs can cause salmonella food poisoning. Salmonella can cause headache, vomiting, fever, severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Some soft cheeses are also to be avoided, especially those that are mold ripened and blue veined, cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Chevre, Danish blue, Gorgonzola, Roquefort and some Mexican soft cheeses. These are made with a mold that can contain a bacteria called listeria and lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or a severe illness in your new baby. Symptoms of listeria infection can take up to six weeks to appear and can include, fever, muscle aches, and nausea. If the infection spreads to your nervous system you could experience confusion, change in alertness, loss of balance and convulsions.
Also avoid unpasteurized milk, if you can only get pasteurized milk it is advised to boil it first.
Ensure all meat is cooked thoroughly to avoid food poisoning, stay away from Pate and other liver products as they are high in vitamin A, your body needs some vitamin A during pregnancy as it is good for your immune system, however your body naturally stores vitamin A and an excessive build up can harm your baby. Also avoid cured deli meats such as pastrami, salami and Parma as they can also contain a risk of listeria.
Fresh fish is a great source of nutrients in a pregnancy diet, they are low in fat and high in protein, however you must not eat raw shellfish such as oysters, mussels and sushi. Fish with high levels of mercury such as shark, king mackerel and swordfish must also be avoided. Tuna can also be considered a fish with high mercury levels so it is recommended to limit your intake of tuna to just 12 ounces a week of fresh or four small tins of canned.
Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine should be consumed in careful moderation especially during the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage is at its highest. Too much caffeine can cause low birth weight in newborns and doctors have even witnessed caffeine withdrawal in new born babies whose mothers were excessive users. If you must drink non decaffeinated coffee it is important to limit your intake to two cups a day.
Also watch your intake of chocolate, tea and caffeinated soft drinks for the same reasons. Heartburn can be a major area of discomfort for pregnant women and although not a risk to the baby there are certain foods you can avoid to minimize this side effect, avoiding spicy or greasy foods, mustard, vinegar, chocolate and high citrus flavors can help diminish heart burn.
It is also a good idea to check the labels on ready-made supermarket meals to evade additives such as MSG (monosodium glutamate) which can cause stomach upsets and headaches.
Even though there are some foods to avoid there are plenty of foods you are encouraged to eat to ensure both you and your baby get the right intake of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins. Avocados, olive oil, nuts, muesli, lentils, and yoghurt are but a few you can feast upon for the benefit of a healthy pregnancy.