To quote Catherine Jones, “Whether your pregnancy was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, one thing is certain – your life will never be the same.”
Pregnancy is when you feel a tiny little person developing inside of you, and you can feel it’s faint, but omnipresent heartbeat. Your biological cycle reverses itself, and hence you catch yourself napping during daytime and wide awake at night. You can’t wait to see the person, and you feel like he or she’s already such a vital part of you.
So, in the midst of this magical process, we must not forget that your baby deserves proper nutrition. As your stomach ungratefully rejects every single thing you eat, your baby is put at a risk of deficiency of various essential nutrients.
Here’s a list of what to expect when you’re expecting, i.e the top 10 foods you should definitely stay away from during pregnancy.
- 10. Cheeses, especially Feta, Brie and Blue cheese
- 9. Big fish, including King mackerel and Swordfish
- 8. Deli and other uncooked meats
- 7. Unpasteurized juices and raw, unwashed vegetables
- 6. Liver
- 5. Unpasteurized dairy products
- 4. Under-cooked or raw eggs
- 3. Caffeine
- 2. Alcohol and drugs
- 1. Miscellanous foods and food additives
10. Cheeses, especially Feta, Brie and Blue cheese
Irresistible as they are, Feta, Brie and Blue cheeses are made from unpasteurized milk. Hence, they put the mother at a risk of Listeriosis, which may be a direct causative factor of severe foodborne illnesses, stillbirths and even miscarriages. To avoid such a harmful and potentially fatal situation, always make sure the cheeses you consume are made of pasteurized milk. Some of such cheeses include cottage cheese and mozzarella, aka pizza cheese.
9. Big fish, including King mackerel and Swordfish
All mothers dream to see their unborn babies having well developed brains, right? Well, in this case, the baby’s immature nervous system may be harmed by the ‘big fish’ consumed in any form. Big fish such as the King Mackerel, Shark, Swordfish should be avoided by expectant mothers as it contains high levels of methyl mercury which may be potentially harmful. Stick to the safer kinds of seafood such as shrimp, catfish, anchovies, salmon and light tuna. Also make sure that it is well within the prescribed 12 ounces of mercury intake.
8. Deli and other uncooked meats
Here’s another one that’s hard to resist- ham, turkey, chicken, salami, uncooked hotdogs etc. should majorly be avoided. Just like big fish, these meats have been linked to Listeriosis, a foodborne illness which may prove to be fatal. If you really want to splurge in some non-vegetarian treats, opt for properly cooked meats and make sure they are well-steamed.
7. Unpasteurized juices and raw, unwashed vegetables
This one’s more important for the vegetarian mothers. Young (hopefully not very young) ladies, it is your duty to protect your foetus from the harmful chemicals and bacteria in vegetables, fruits and juices. Always make sure that the juices are pasteurized and fruits and veggies washed properly, else it may result in various food-borne illnesses as stated earlier. The veggies such as clover, alfafa, beans and radish need to be washed with extra care. Also note that raw sprouts may do more harm than good, as they may result in Salmonella outbreaks.
Most doctors advise expectant mothers to increase intake of various vitamins, in order to support the growth of the foetus. However, this is one such source of vitamins which must be avoided. Liver, liver oil and related products contain very high levels of Vitamin A. These may prove to be dangerous to the baby’s growth process and hence it is necessary to monitor their intake. Also avoid high-dose vitamin supplements and consult your doctor to give you safe and effective ones.
5. Unpasteurized dairy products
Make it a thumb rule to avoid any dairy products made from unpasteurized milk. As discussed earlier, we have various cheeses. Other than that, products like raw milk or cheese, (including that made from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk) must be avoided. Instead, opt for better alternatives like skimmed milk or toned milk.
4. Under-cooked or raw eggs
Eggs are considered a great source of proteins- with a condition that they are properly cooked. Raw eggs may contain harmful compounds such as Salmonella, which may cause poisoning. Hence, avoid dishes which involve any form of raw or partially cooked eggs. Eggnog, Caeser’s salad, Hollandaise Sauce and various cake batters should be distanced from. Always ensure that your eggs are properly cooked till the yellow and white parts are firm.
In my opinion,resisting caffeine is the hardest. Caffeine is something which is such a major part of our lifestyles now, that we tend to forget how we would survive without our daily intake of caffeine. Caffeine can usually be consumed in various forms, be it coffee, tea or even fizzy soft drinks. But it is not limited to these beverages alone. Scientists have had various difference in opinions about the amount of caffeine a pregnant lady can consume, but an average figure would vary around 200-300 mg per day. Incase you’re feeling adventurous, please keep in mind that the extra intake of caffeine can directly reach your placenta and harm the baby’s heart rate.
2. Alcohol and drugs
This one is the most important of them all, and surely a no-brainer. There is absolutely no scope for any sort of bargaining or compromise here, as there are no prescribed limits for alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Excessive or even minimal intake of alcohol for that matter, can cause a plethora of problems- both for the expectant mother and the baby. Alcohol consumption is linked to low IQ, low birth weight and other related birth defects. The mother also may suffer from low absorption of Folic Acid and lesser calcium in her bones. There is a specific disease known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which may harm the baby in later stages of his or her life.
1. Miscellanous foods and food additives
The last in the list is a short compilation of miscellaneous foods that one must be careful about. Soft serve ice cream may contain Listeria, a very harmful type of bacteria. One must heed to the intake of peanuts as well, since they reduce the chances of peanut allergies and also may be potentially harmful to the unborn baby. Be careful of packaged foods, deli foods and fast food as it tends to contain Monosodium Glutumates (MSG’s) which cause stomach upsets and headaches. Also avoid food colourings, especially blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 3 and yellow 6 and Saccharin.
As a conclusion, simply make a mental note of the fact that everything you eat must be toxic-free, well-cleansed and fully hygienic. Avoid excess of anything, especially alcohol and drugs. Incase you feel the need to binge or indulge in something, do consult your doctor.
This is the most vital part of your life as a mother, and what you eat determines not just your body’s nutrition but your baby’s as well. Hence, for two lives’ sakes, please monitor your food habits well.
Enjoy your experience as an expectant mother!