Do Not Eat During Pregnancy

Seafood High In Mercury

OB-GYNs Debunk 25 Pregnancy Myths

If you think that seafood is harmless, think again. Some seafood types are on the list of what foods to avoid while pregnant due to their high mercury content. It is true that shellfish and fish provide good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, protein and zinc. But a select few are high in mercury. Mercury is relatively harmless for most adults, but not for pregnant individuals. Regularly eating large servings of seafood high in mercury can damage your babys nervous system and brain development. Heres a list of seafood you should steer clear of:

  • Tilefish
  • Consuming more than 12oz of fish and shellfish a week

Food And Drinks To Avoid While Pregnant

No level of alcohol consumption is considered safe during pregnancy. Also, check with your doctor before you take any vitamins or herbal products. Some of these can be harmful to the developing fetus.

And although many doctors feel that one or two 6- to 8-ounce cups per day of coffee, tea, or soda with caffeine won’t harm your baby, it’s probably wise to avoid caffeine altogether if you can. High caffeine consumption has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and other problems, so limit your intake or switch to decaffeinated products.

When you’re pregnant, it’s also important to avoid food-borne illnesses, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which can be life threatening to an unborn baby and may cause birth defects or miscarriage. Foods to steer clear of include:

  • soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as feta, goat, Brie, Camembert, and blue cheese
  • unpasteurized milk, juices, and apple cider
  • raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs, including mousse and tiramisu
  • raw or undercooked meats, fish, or shellfish
  • processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meats
  • fish that are high in mercury, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, tuna steak , and tilefish

If you’ve eaten these foods at some point during your pregnancy, try not to worry too much about it now just avoid them for the remainder of the pregnancy. If you’re really concerned, talk to your doctor.

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Herbal And Green Teas

We do not have much information on the safety of herbal and green teas in pregnancy. Therefore, it is best to limit how much you drink. You should drink no more than 4 cups of herbal tea a day. It is important to remember that green tea contains caffeine, which should be limited as much as possible during pregnancy.

You should ask your GP or midwife if you are unsure about the safety of any herbal products.

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Nsaid Pain Relievers: High Risk

The effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen have been well-studied and these drugs pose a risk to your baby in the form of birth defects and damage to internal organsbut the risk is highest in the first trimester.

“After that, it may be okay to take NSAIDs for a short period of time, up to 32 weeks,” says Dr. Johnson. “However, you should consult with your doctor.”

Instead of NSAIDs, acetaminophen is the recommended painkiller for pregnant women, since its associated with fewer negative outcomes.

What Eating Well Means

Which Food Is Not Good For Pregnancy
  • eating more healthy foods containing folic acid, iron and iodine
  • limiting intake of high fat and high sugar foods
  • taking vitamin supplements containing vitamin D
  • drinking lots of fluids but only small amounts of caffeine
  • not drinking alcohol at all
  • taking care how you prepare and store food

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Unwashed Fruits And Veggies

Take a little extra time and scrub the dirt off of those fruits and veggies. And while you want to eat of lots of vegetables and fruit while youre pregnant, you should probably leave sproutslike alfalfa and beanout of your salads, as they can carry bacteria. Same with salad bars and prepackaged salads.

Can Pregnant Women Drink Fruit Juice

Pregnant women are strongly advised to avoid fresh juices for the simple reason that non-pasteurised juices can lead to digestion-related illnesses. So when you are consuming fruit juice make sure that it is pasteurised.

If you are craving for a glass of juice, drink prune juice as it can help alleviate constipation. You can even try drinking Vitamin C juice which has folic acid and can enable your foetus to develop normally while preventing conditions such as spina bifida. But overall, it is a good idea for all expectant women to avoid fruit juices.

Now that you which fruits are not safe for consumption during pregnancy, avoid them at all cost. In the beginning, it will be difficult for you to give up some of your favourite veggies and fruits, but keep in mind that it will help you carry your pregnancy to term and ensure good health both for you and your baby. Have a healthy pregnancy!

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Raw Processed And Undercooked Meats

The pregnant individuals body is more susceptible to infections and illnesses caused by various types of bacteria and parasites. These could harm your babys well-being eventually even if you develop a simple fever. Bacteria and parasites can come from untidy places and the foods that you eat, such as raw, processed and undercooked meats. Put these on top of your what-not-to-eat-during-pregnancy list!

Toxoplasmosis, for example, is an infection caused by Toxoplasma parasite and can be found in raw or undercooked meats. It is usually harmless in non-pregnant people. In pregnant individuals, it can cause stillbirth, miscarriage or organ damage to your baby. As much as possible, stay away from raw meat, or make sure to wash and cook thoroughly before consumption.

Safe Food Alternatives For Pregnant Women

Foods to eat during Pregnancy – What Should I Eat During Pregnancy [Patient Education]

Some types of food can be a higher risk for pregnant women because of how they are produced and stored. To lower your chances of getting food poisoning, you should avoid those foods. The following chart can help you make safer food choices.

Safe food alternatives for pregnant women

Type of food
Unpasteurized fruit juice and cider. Unpasteurized fruit juice and cider that are brought to a rolling boil and cooled. Pasteurized fruit juice and cider.

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Foods To Avoid In The First Trimester Of Pregnancy

The first trimester is a crucial time for your babys growth. Some types of food can be harmful to you and can affect your babys health and development.

You should avoid the following foods in your first trimester:

Seafood Containing Mercury

Eating fish with high levels of mercury can cause mercury poisoning. If you eat fish that contain mercury during pregnancy, it can pass on to your baby. Mercury is a metal that can delay your babys development, cause brain damage, and affect their hearing and sight.

Avoid eating fish like:

  • Clover

Unwashed Vegetables or Fruits

Vegetables and fruits are an essential part of your diet. Before you eat them, make sure that they are properly washed. Unwashed vegetables and fruits may contain dirt and germs such as toxoplasmosis, which can harm you and your baby.

Also, avoid having pre-packaged salads, buffet salads, or those at open salad bars, as they can be contaminated with listeria.

Excess Caffeine

Although a moderate intake of caffeine is allowed during pregnancy, high caffeine intake can affect your babys development. Research has shown that excess caffeine can increase the risk of a miscarriage during the first trimester.

Your daily caffeine intake should be less than 200 milligrams, which is equal to a 12-ounce cup of coffee. Check the labels of sodas, energy drinks, teas, or chocolate, as they may contain caffeine.

Excess Vitamin A

Other Foods

Food Safety When Eating Out

Risks are harder to manage at buffets, smorgasbords, salad bars, or street vendors, where foods may have been sitting uncovered, allowed to cool, or contaminated by other people, so avoid eating food from these places.

When you eat out or buy takeaways, avoid the same high-risk foods you would avoid at home. Don’t eat:

  • unpasteurised milk and dairy products
  • raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables or raw herbs
  • raw seed sprouts
  • pre-prepared cold foods such as salads, unrefrigerated sandwiches, or sushi
  • undercooked or raw meat, poultry, or seafood
  • cold meats, pâté, or cold, smoked fish
  • soft and semi-soft cheeses unless cooked
  • soft-serve ice cream.

To minimise risk during pregnancy, choose restaurant and takeaway food that is:

  • well cooked
  • prepared just before it’s served to you
  • served piping hot .

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Raw Seafood And Eggs: High Risk

Raw seafood or sushi containing raw fish is dangerous to eat during pregnancyit could be contaminated with all kinds of bacteria and parasites liable to make you severely ill during pregnancy. The same goes for raw or undercooked eggs.

Make sure all dishes containing seafood and eggs are fully-cooked, and opt for the California roll or a veggie roll at your favorite sushi place instead of the sashimi.

What Are Signs Of Concern For Pregnant Women

  • Hemorrhaging bleeding that is either severe or drags on for a prolonged time requires immediate attention. The baby may not be receiving enough oxygen and the mother may be at risk of exsanguination.
  • Unintended weight loss this may indicate an underlying condition such as ketosis, or another metabolic problem.
  • Dizziness dizziness can put both the mother and baby at risk of suffering an accident, and may indicate a severe deficiency or underlying health condition,
  • High blood pressure preeclampsia, also known as high blood pressure during pregnancy, constitutes a high-risk condition that requires close monitoring throughout gestation.
  • Severe or chronic headaches may indicate blood pressure problems
  • A vaginal discharge may indicate a hormonal irregularity or an infection.
  • Seeing lights and spots, blurred eyesight, or double
  • Fever
  • Aches in the body
  • Inflammation in the extremities or anywhere else in the body

These symptoms should be addressed by a medical professional such as an obstetrician, who will determine the course of treatment and additional measures to be taken.

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Iodine And Iodine Deficiency

Iodine is an essential nutrient required in small amounts to support normal growth and development, including brain development. It is important that unborn babies receive enough iodine. Requirements for iodine increase during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Even with a well balanced diet, it is difficult to get enough iodine from food alone.

Choose foods that are important sources of iodine and take a daily iodine-only tablet throughout your pregnancy.

Important sources of iodine in foods include well-cooked seafoods, milk, eggs, some cereals and commercially made bread .

  • Take one 0.150 milligram /150 microgram iodine-only tablet daily during your pregnancy.

For further information, contact a health practitioner such as your LMC, dietitian, practice nurse or pharmacist.

Supplements containing seaweed, kelp and iodine are not recommended for pregnant women because the iodine content and quality of the supplements is variable.

Health Conditions Help Determine What Not To Eat During Pregnancy

Pre-pregnancy, you may already have an existing health condition like diabetes or hypertension. Your dietitian will take this into consideration before setting any food restrictions during pregnancy. For example, fruits are highly beneficial for your health, but you may have to take a break from some of them if your blood sugar spikes every time you eat one. The same goes if you develop an allergic reaction to other foods.

Nausea, vomiting, morning sickness and fatigue are common symptoms of pregnancy that occur during the first and second trimesters. Food may have something to do with the degree of these symptoms. They can be worse or almost non-existent. To know exactly how to alleviate them, it is important to talk to a certified prenatal nutritionist near you, who will provide you sound guidance on what to eat during pregnancy.

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Raw Undercooked Or Deli Meats

Raw or undercooked meats can carry harmful things like toxoplasmosis and salmonella, while other foods can have listeria. These include:

  • Hot dogs
  • Cold cured meats like salami and smoked fish

To be extra safe, cook meat well and either avoid cold cuts while youre pregnant or heat them thoroughly. And be sure to wash your hands really well with soap and hot water after handling raw meat such as chicken and pork.

Weight Loss And Weight Gain Are A Big Deal

How to Increase Fetal Weight During Pregnancy

Weight gain or weight loss that is outside the recommended range is a cause for concern. If you gain too much weight, your baby could be born larger than expected. Just the same, losing too much weight puts your child at risk of being born smaller. Both instances may come with health complications.

Doctors and nutritionists will quickly advise you to eat more if they detect constant weight loss. Malnutrition will have adverse effects on you and your babys health. It weakens your body and may lead to low birth weight or premature labor. Doctors set a standard weight depending on your height. If you measure outside the recommended range, its important that you mind your eating habits and make sure your body is properly nourished.

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What If I Am Vegetarian

Well-planned plant-based diets that include a wide variety of foods can provide the nutrients you and your baby need. It is best to speak to a registered dietitian to make sure you are getting enough iron, zinc, omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D.

Contact a dietitian

Are Food Cravings Real

It is common for women to develop a sudden urge or a strong dislike for a food during pregnancy. Some common cravings are for sweets, salty foods, red meat or fluids, Krieger said. Often, a craving is a body’s way of saying it needs a specific nutrient, such as more protein or additional liquids to quench a thirst, rather than a particular food, she said.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.

Additional resources

  • The Institute of Medicine has a BMI calculator to help pregnant women figure out the right amount of weight to gain.
  • Find answers to frequently asked questions about nutrition during pregnancy from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • Learn about safe food choices and food safety risks from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Editor’s note: This reference page was updated on April 24, 2021, by Live Science contributor Sarah Wild.

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Restaurant Food Or Store

It is advisable to be extra cautious when ordering food for pregnant women at a restaurant, as one can never be sure of the ingredients that go into making it. It is best to avoid having salads that are available in restaurants or even in the store. The fruits and vegetables used in the salad may not have been washed properly, or they may have been cut a long time ago.

You can always make your own salad at home. Ensure you clean the fruits and vegetables properly and cook your meat thoroughly. Cooking your own food also gives you the liberty to prepare it just the way you like it.

What Do I Need To Know When Storing Food

Pregnancy Diet Tips: What Not To Eat

It is important to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Perishable food should never reach temperatures between 4 °C to 60 °C . This is because this temperature range is where bacteria can quickly grow and cause food poisoning.

You can reduce your chances of getting food poisoning if you:

  • set your fridge at 4 °C or lower
  • set your freezer at -18 °C or lower
  • put raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood in sealed containers or plastic bags on the bottom shelf of your fridge – this prevents raw juices from dripping onto other food
  • store cut fruits and vegetables in the fridge
  • refrigerate or freeze raw meat, poultry, fish, seafood and leftovers immediately dangerous bacteria can grow if left out for more than:
  • 1 hour during summer outdoor activities
  • 2 hours at room temperature
  • cook raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood by the “best before” date, or no more than 2 to 4 days after buying it
  • freeze raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood if you do not plan on cooking by the “best before” date
  • Fridge and freezer storage

    If you freeze food that is well-wrapped, it can last longer. Here are the recommended refrigeration and freezing times for different foods.

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    What You Can Eat

    • pasteurised or unpasteurised hard cheeses, such as cheddar, Gruyere and parmesan
    • pasteurised semi-hard cheeses, such as Edam and Stilton
    • pasteurised soft cheeses, such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, paneer, ricotta, halloumi, goats’ cheese without a white coating on the outside and processed cheese spreads
    • soft or blue cheese that has been cooked until steaming hot
    • pasteurised milk, yoghurt, cream and ice cream

    Make A Healthy Food Swap

    These food swaps provide you with more nutrients to support your babys growth and help control blood sugar levels and prevent constipation.

    • Swap white bread for wholegrain.
    • Swap ice cream for yoghurt.
    • Swap soft drinks for sparkling water.
    • Swap chips for plain, unsalted popcorn.

    Tip: Add an extra handful of vegetables when cooking and try baking or grilling food instead of frying it in oil.

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    Be Selective With Meat Spreads Or Pt

    Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter, or from the refrigerated section of a store. They can contain Listeria. Meat spreads and pâté that do not need refrigeration before opening, such as products in cans, jars, or sealed pouches, are a safer choice. Refrigerate these foods after opening.

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