Women's Health

7 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Baby is on the way and needs nourishment just like mom. But certain dishes and beverages you enjoy outside of pregnancy can harm your little one. While you’re eating for two, keep these seven food and drink categories out of your diet.

1. Alcohol

No amount of alcohol is safe to consume during pregnancy as it interferes with healthy fetal development. Alcohol in your bloodstream will flow through baby’s bloodstream—and stay there twice as long. Drinking while pregnant can lead to preventable congenital defects and disabilities.

2. Raw or Undercooked Animal Products

Raw, seared, or undercooked meats carry a risk of harboring bacteria. These include rare steaks, sushi, and raw shellfish, such as oysters and clams. Uncooked eggs, often found in homemade Caesar dressing, mayonnaise, batters, and more, put you at risk of salmonella poisoning. Harmful bacteria can infect the fetus and cause pregnancy complications and developmental abnormalities.

3. Unpasteurized Dairy Products

Foods containing unpasteurized dairy can contain listeria and E. coli. Stay clear of soft cheeses, including brie, feta, gorgonzola, queso fresco, and goat cheese, and raw milk. Hard cheeses, like cheddar and swiss, are acceptable to eat. Always check the label to make sure a product uses pasteurized milk.

4. Deli Meat

It’s a good idea to avoid eating refrigerated meats, often found in the deli aisle. Pâté and smoked seafood, such as lox, can contain listeria. Instead, opt for fully cooked meat. It’s permissible to consume canned or shelf-safe meat and spreads, but it’s best to stay away from those made with heavy preservatives.

5. High-Mercury Fish

Certain fish contain high amounts of mercury, which can cause brain damage and developmental delays. Avoid eating shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish at all costs. Serve up a low-mercury fish instead, such as wild salmon, rainbow trout, and sole.

6. Unwashed Veggies & Raw Sprouts

Always wash your veggies to prevent consumption of soil contaminated with E. coli, salmonella, or listeria. When it comes to particular crops, beware of raw sprouts. Alfalfa, radish, mung bean, clover, and bean sprouts grow in warm, humid environments, which are also ideal conditions for dangerous bacteria.

7. Caffeine

While many studies deem moderate caffeine intake permissible, some studies link caffeine to miscarriages and complications. Experts recommend avoiding it altogether during the first trimester and limiting your intake to less than 200 mg per day during the second and third trimesters unless your OB/GYN advises otherwise. Since caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it promotes water loss, it’s best to stick to drinking water or pasteurized juices and milk instead.

Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group OB/GYNs can provide the care and resources you need for a healthy pregnancy. As you prepare for baby’s arrival, it’s also important to choose the hospital that’s right for you. The teams at CHI St. Luke’s Health Family Birthing Centers treat every patient like a VIP—Very Important Pregnancy.

Sources:
American Pregnancy Association | Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy
What to Expect | Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Foodsafety.gov | Sprouts: What You Should Know
Foodsafety.gov | Checklist of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
American Academy of Pediatrics | Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Find A Doctor