Sometimes foods we eat every day carry bacteria or chemicals that don’t have a significant effect on our bodies, but that can be quite harmful to a developing fetus. Here are some of the common foods you should not eat while you are pregnant.
1. Fish high in mercury
Mercury is present in higher concentrations in larger fish, so the FDA recommends staying away from swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish. Tuna is also a concern and should be limited to one 6oz. portion per week of canned albacore or tuna steaks. According to their recommendations, you may eat up to 12oz of canned light tuna per week (two servings) or the same amount of shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, or cod.
2. Any undercooked foods
Raw or undercooked seafood is a big no-no during pregnancy. Here in Seattle, where fish is always fresh and Sushi is a staple, this can cause some serious cravings – but it’s best to put off your trip to Aoki until the baby makes its appearance. Our beloved Lox should also be avoided, but canned smoked salmon is okay.
Make sure your eggs, meat, and poultry are thoroughly cooked as well. Basically, where you would normally be careful, be extra careful. Bacteria and organisms that may have only moderate impact to your non-pregnant body can wreak havoc when your immune system is weakened during pregnancy.
3. Any unpasteurized foods
Raw milk and cheese that has not been pasteurized can carry listeria, which might not affect you when you are not pregnant but can cause serious pregnancy complications including miscarriage and stillbirth. Make sure milk and juices are pasteurized (or otherwise treated for your safety, some distributors of raw milk test it carefully, but please be aware of what you are buying). Soft cheeses like Brie, Feta, Camembert, Blue Cheese, etc. should be clearly labeled as pasteurized – if you’re not sure, it’s probably best to pass.
To avoid this same bacteria, some care providers will also suggest you avoid deli meats, or reheat them to the point of steaming to kill anything potentially harmful.
In many cases, common sense about eating will keep you safe during pregnancy. Doing the same things you would always do like washing fruits and vegetables, paying attention to any advisories about contaminants in the local seafood (Seattle residents always know when there is a red tide, right?), avoiding alcohol and excess caffeine will all help keep you and your baby healthy.
For more info: Please see the FDA’s information on Listeria and Food Safety for Moms to Be. As always, please consult your care provider for specific recommendations or questions you might have.