11 Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

If you are in the TTW (two week wait), think you might be pregnant, or know that you are pregnant there are a few foods that you should avoid when pregnant. There are lots of old wives tales about what you can and can’t eat, so we have done the research for you to demystify it. Thankfully, there’s more you can eat than you can’t. Certain foods should only be consumed rarely, while others should be avoided completely. Here are 10 foods to avoid while pregnant:

1. Seafood that is high in Mercury

Seafood is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids which can promote your baby’s brain and eye development. However, some fish and shellfish may contain a dangerously high level of mercury which can be harmful to your baby. As a general rule, the bigger and older the fish, the more mercury it’s likely to contain. Fish to avoid are Bigeye tuna, King mackerel, Marlin, Orange roughy, Swordfish, Shark, and Tilefish.

2. Undercooked or Raw Fish

This one will be tough for you sushi fans, but it’s an important one. Raw fish, especially shellfish, can cause several infections. These can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections, such as norovirus, vibrio, salmonella, and listeria. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to listeria infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are up to 10 times more likely to get infected by listeria than the general population. It’s definitely advised to avoid raw fish and shellfish. You can however eat sushi that has been made with cooked fish/seafood, as well as cooked seafood including cooked prawns.

3. Raw Eggs

Raw eggs can be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. In rare cases, the infection may cause cramps in your uterus, leading to premature birth or stillbirth. To be on the safe side, make sure you always cook eggs thoroughly or use pasteurized eggs. Save super runny yolks, homemade ice-cream, homemade mayo, and any cakes with royal icing (royal icing is made with raw egg whites) until after your baby arrives.

4. Unpasteurized Cheese

There’s a small chance that unpasteurised cheese, eg goats cheese, may contain listeria bacteria. This can cause an infection called listeriosis. Listeriosis can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, or make your newborn baby very unwell.

5. Soft & Blue Veined Cheese

Mould-ripened soft cheese, such as brie, camembert, and others with a similar rind, and soft blue-veined cheeses such as Danish blue or gorgonzola can contain listeria, a type of bacteria that can harm your unborn baby. If you’re really craving cheese, go for hard cheeses made from pasteurized milk such as cheddar or parmesan, or semi-hard pasteurised cheese like Edam or Stilton, or pasteurised soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, cream cheese, paneer, halloumi and processed cheeses such as cheese spreads.

6. Unwashed Fruit & Veg

The surface of unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables may be contaminated with bacteria and parasites. These include Toxoplasma, E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, which can be acquired from the soil or through handling, this bacteria can lead to eye or brain damage in your baby. While you’re pregnant, it’s very important to minimize the risk of infection by thoroughly washing any fruit or veg with water, peeling them, or cooking your fruits and vegetables.

8. Raw or Undercooked Meat

There’s a small risk of getting toxoplasmosis if you eat raw or undercooked meat, which can cause miscarriage. Cured meats, such as salami, pepperoni, chorizo and prosciutto, are not cooked, so they may have parasites in them that cause toxoplasmosis, therefore you need to be careful with them unless they are cooked thoroughly. Processed meats such as hot dogs should also be avoided unless they are piping hot.

9. Liver and Liver Products

Liver and liver products, like pate, sausages or even cod liver oil capsules contain very high levels of retinol, a type of vitamin A. Retinol builds up in your body and can be harmful to your unborn baby.

10. Game Meats

Game meats such as goose, partridge or pheasant should be avoided in case they contain lead shot! Although the chances are slim!

11. Licorice & Licorice Root

You may think this is an odd one, but an American Journal of Epidemiology study found that eating licorice root or licorice sweets/candy while pregnant may be linked to earlier puberty, lower IQ, and behavioral problems in children. The compound that gives licorice its taste is glycyrrhizin and this can be found in tobacco and some foods. Although the NHS website actually says that licorice is safe to eat, and that licorice root should be avoided.

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