Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life. You have a new life growing inside your body and the two of you share a special bond and connection that nobody else understands. Part of that connection is your new shared nutrition – your diet is no longer just feeding you anymore! Now that you’re pregnant you’re eating for two, and that means proper nutrition is vital.
The food you eat when pregnant needs to contain enough nourishment for both you and your baby and should be based on fresh veggies, fruits, good quality meat, fish, and whole grain products. Succumbing to food cravings and bingeing on junk food while pregnant may be tempting, but it’s important that you’re aware of important pregnancy food restrictions and which foods are good for pregnancy.
In this article we’ll talk about what foods you should avoid when pregnant, for both you and your baby’s benefit.
Foods you shouldn’t eat when pregnant
The following are a pregnancy food list to avoid. They can cause complications during pregnancy or birth and be harmful to you or your baby.
Unpasteurised milk and dairy
If you’re not the farmer’s markets type then there’s nothing you have to change here. But if you often buy milk and other dairy products from farmers, make sure that it’s always pasteurised. This applies to cow, goat, and sheeps milk and all products made from them.
Unpasteurised milk carries a risk of toxoplasmosis, listeriosis, and campylobacter – all infections that can harm the health of you and your baby. All milk sold in Australian supermarkets is pasteurised, so if you stick to the supermarket aisles you’ll be fine. If you only have access to unpasteurised milk then make sure you boil it thoroughly before drinking to kill off any germs.
Some soft cheeses like brie and camembert
Sorry ladies, but you’re going to have to lay off the brie and camembert when pregnant. Mould-ripened soft cheeses, which contain a rind, are on the list of foods to avoid when pregnant, as well as chevre and soft blue-veined cheeses like gorgonzola, roquefort, and Danish blue cheese. These cheese all carry a risk of contracting listeria, an infection that could be harmful to you and your baby.
Raw or undercooked meats
Meat lovers, make sure you avoid eating raw or undercooked meat while pregnant – especially when it comes to minced meat or sausages. Rare and raw meats are known to carry a bacteria called toxoplasma, which can cause an infection called toxoplasmosis. This infection can harm your baby and cause serious complications during pregnancy.
For that reason, you’re always better off cooking your meat well done with no traces of blood or pinkness. If you want to take extra precaution, try to also avoid raw cured meats like pepperoni, salami, chorizo, etc. To practice pregnancy food safety, be sure to stick to the rule of eating only well-cooked meats.
Raw fish and seafood
Sushi is just another one of those delicious foods you have to avoid when pregnant. You should altogether avoid eating raw or chilled seafood like oysters, sushi, sashimi, and raw lobster, crab, and prawns when pregnant. All of these seafoods put you at risk of contracting listeria, which while rare, can in some cases lead to miscarriage or illness in your baby.
Raw or undercooked eggs
Sorry ladies, but you’ll have to give up runny egg yolks. Just like meat, it’s good to make sure your eggs are always well-cooked when you’re pregnant. That means both the yolks and the whites need to be solid when you’re eating them. You also need to be aware of products that have raw eggs in them, like mousse or homemade mayo. Why can’t you eat raw eggs when pregnant? Because you have a risk of contracting salmonella, a type of food poisoning. And trust us, food poisoning during pregnancy is not fun for you or your baby.
Since you’re giving up the brie and camembert, you may as well give up the wine too, right? It’s well known that it’s best to avoid alcohol when you’re pregnant, especially in the first trimester. This is because alcohol can harm your baby and cause complications during pregnancy. If you do want to drink after the first trimester, try to stick to only one or two glasses once or twice a week. That said, there’s no clear amount on how much alcohol can be damaging.
Foods you should avoid when pregnant
These foods shouldn’t be part of your pregnancy food plan, but they’re not so bad to have every once in a while. Be aware of how you use these foods and restrict amounts where possible.
Drinking too much caffeine while pregnant has been connected to miscarriage and a low birth weight for your baby. We’re not just talking about coffee here, though, caffeine is also in tea, Coca-Cola, and chocolate. When you’re pregnant you should try not to exceed more than 200mg of caffeine a day – which adds up quickly! One espresso contains 140mg, a cup of instant coffee has 100mg, a cup of tea has 70-80mg, a bar of chocolate 50mg, and a can of coke 40mg.
Energy drinks & soft drinks
Energy drinks are never recommended during pregnancy as they contain extremely high amounts of caffeine, as well as other ingredients (eg. taurine) which can be unsafe for pregnant women. When it comes to soft drinks, be aware of caffeine content, harmful ingredients, and any artificial sweeteners.
Avoid any ‘diet’ or ‘reduced sugar’ drinks, yoghurts, and food items when pregnant as they all contain artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners, which are used in many processed foods, can be unsafe for some pregnant women. While you don’t have to completely cut them out of your diet, it’s best not to over-consume sweeteners like aspartame, stevia, saccharin, and xylitol when pregnant.
Highly processed products
You may not feel up to cooking, but try to avoid over-consuming processed foods and ready made meals when pregnant. There is a risk of bacteria contamination during processing, they cause digestive difficulties, do not provide adequate nourishment for your baby, can lead to weight gain, and may also contain several ingredients which can be harmful during pregnancy.
Fast food and junk foods
You get some wild cravings during pregnancy, but try to avoid overindulging in fast food and junk foods when pregnant. These kinds of food provide little nourishment to your baby, which means they aren’t being given the ideal nutrition for their growth and development. It’s also been found that eating excess junk food and fast food when pregnant carries an increased risk of allergies, heart disease, and junk food addiction for your child.
The benefits of proper nutrition for pregnant women
Now you know which products should be avoided and which should not be eaten. Eating fresh, good-quality products as little processed as possible is your priority. Are you still wondering whether it’s worth giving up your treats and eating healthy during pregnancy? Here are a few more reasons why you’ll be glad you made the decision. Having proper nutrition during pregnancy will:
- Reduce the chance of facing complications during your pregnancy,
- Reduce the incidence of birth defects in your baby,
- Reduce your chance of facing discomforts during pregnancy, like nausea and digestive upsets,
- Ensure your baby is born at a healthy weight, preventing complications at birth or in the future,
- Put you in a better mood throughout your pregnancy.