Eating well is always important, but it takes on more significance when you’re pregnant. It’s not all about you anymore. Everything you put in your body impacts the growth and development of your baby. While you may have previously brushed off suggestions to eat more fruit and veggies, when you’re in the midst of your pregnancy you’ll soon realize that getting enough daily nutrients actually impacts the health of your unborn child. Your baby eats what you do, which means you’ll probably want to hold off on that Whopper.
In addition to nixing processed and chemical-laden foods from your diet, there are certain everyday foods that can have a dangerous impact on your baby.
1. Unpasteurized soft cheeses
Brie lovers beware — when you’re pregnant, mold-ripened soft cheeses and blue-veined cheeses like Brie, Roquefort, Camembert, goat cheese, and Gorgonzola should be avoided. Some studies have determined that soft cheeses are fine if they’re made with pasteurized milk, but be careful regardless. These cheeses can contain listeria bacteria, which can cause listeriosis. While rare, this infection even in the mildest form can lead a woman to miscarry, experience a stillbirth, or have a baby born with a severe illness.
2. Raw or undercooked meat and eggs
Beef tartar, a thick rare steak, undercooked chicken, and runny eggs are a few examples of animal products that should be avoided during pregnancy. These foods may contain an array of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. While you may be able to handle foodborne illness, your baby won’t. When cooking meat, use a thermometer to check the temperature. Go scrambled rather than fried when ordering eggs, and don’t munch on raw dough while baking.
3. Deli meats
Like your favorite soft cheeses, deli meats have a history of being contaminated with listeria. These dangerous bacteria can be fatal, but there’s an easy way to have your lunchmeat and eat it too. Always order your sandwiches hot or heat deli meat until it’s steaming. This will kill any listeria and keep your baby safe, leaving you free to enjoy your Italian sub.
4. Certain fish
As adults, we’re told that fish is one of the leanest, healthiest proteins we can consume. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in calories. Unfortunately most fish also contain traces of mercury. According to the FDA, pregnant women are free to eat up to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish a week (roughly two servings), but should stay away from swordfish and tilefish, which typically have more mercury. Instead, choose fillets of salmon and catfish, shrimp, and canned light tuna in moderate amounts.
5. Raw seafood
Before you were pregnant, you may have indulged in a weekly sushi night or shot back oyster shooters on vacation, but while you’re pregnant you’re going to have to stick with California rolls and dishes devoid of raw fish. Stay away from raw seafood like ceviche, sashimi, and oysters, and make sure to thoroughly cook fish, scallops, and clams.
6. Unpasteurized juice
Be careful when buying juices (especially the fresh stuff sold at summer farm stands). Parents explains products that haven’t been pasteurized, a processing method that kills bacteria and toxins, can contain a foodborne illness.
7. Cured meats
Hot dogs, one of America’s favorite summer foods, are on the list. It may be for the best considering that hot dogs contain nitrates, which are additives that have been linked to brain tumors and diabetes. While the studies aren’t conclusive, it pays to play it safe when it comes to hot dogs and other cured meats like bacon and sausage.
8. Unwashed fruits and veggies
When you’re pregnant, you should be eating more fresh fruits and vegetables than ever before, but you’ll want to make sure they’re properly washed. Toxoplasma is a parasite that can be found on unwashed fruits and veggies. This parasite can be harmful to expecting mothers and their babies. Stay safe by thoroughly rinsing produce before you dive in.