This blog is written by Aliza Carr from Bumpnbub.
Your immune system can be lower during pregnancy, so it can be harder for your body to fight off illness or infection. Some illnesses can also be passed through the placenta to baby – therefore, it’s generally advised to avoid any foods with a high chance of contamination that may make you sick or aren’t optimal for you and baby. The best food to eat in pregnancy is freshly cooked and prepared. It’s best to avoid anything that has been sitting in a café or takeaway shop for a long period of time or may not have been cooked well.
Here is a summary of the main things to avoid; always ask your doctor or midwife if you have any questions regarding what is safe.
You should not eat raw or pink meat that has blood present. It is also important to wash down all surfaces where meat has been prepared and wash hands well after touching raw meat.
- Toxoplasmosis is a parasite found in meat, and when pregnant, it can cause complications for the baby, although it is quite rare.
Any processed or pre-cooked meats that have been sitting for a period of time should be avoided. This includes cold meats in sandwich bars, chicken, ham, and salami.
- To be safe, these meats should be cooked and eaten soon afterwards.
Raw or uncooked egg, including homemade mayonnaise, is not recommended during pregnancy. Ensure the egg is cooked thoroughly so white and yolk are solid.
- The risk of salmonella food poisoning is the reason uncooked egg should be avoided.
The recommendation is not to eat mould-ripened soft cheese such as blue cheese, brie or camembert. Any unpasteurised cheese should ideally be avoided. Stick to hard cheese such as cheddar and parmesan. All pâté should also be avoided.
- This is because soft cheeses and pâté can contain listeria, which is a bacteria that can be harmful to your baby.
Fish has essential nutrients needed in pregnancy; however, some fish types contain higher levels of mercury. These include; shark (flake), broadbill, marlin and swordfish, and should not be eaten more than once a fortnight.
- High levels of mercury can affect your baby’s developing nervous system.
A lot of mamas think they cannot have sushi at all when they are pregnant, but you can, just be careful what type. The safest way to enjoy sushi when pregnant is to ask for it to be made fresh, as you don’t know how long it has been in the fridge. Again, avoid sushi with raw seafood or meat – instead, choose vegetarian options or sushi with cooked meat or egg.
- These recommendations are to help avoid listeria contamination.
Limiting the amount of caffeine that is consumed in pregnancy to 200mg per day is the recommendation. Caffeine is found in a lot of food and drinks; coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate. Energy drinks also contain a very high amount of caffeine and are certainly not recommended during pregnancy.
- High levels of caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight babies.
There is no safe level of alcohol when pregnant or breastfeeding, so not drinking is the safest option for your unborn baby. If you are off to an event, grab non-alcoholic champagne or a yummy mocktail.
All pre-packaged fruit or salad, as well as pre-prepared sandwiches and wraps, should be avoided to reduce your risk of listeria.
This blog is general advice only and does not replace the need for medical advice. For any questions or concerns, contact your healthcare provider.