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Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

14 Nov 2018 | 8 min Read

Sayani Basu

Author | 625 Articles

During pregnancy, everything you eat gets shared with your growing baby. That’s the reason you add sliced fruit to your fortified breakfast cereal, top your salads with chickpeas and snack on almonds.

There’s a plethora of foods to eat during pregnancy. But the question is: what not to eat during pregnancy? Are there foods to avoid during pregnancy? Yes, not every food is safe to eat during this crucial time. Some foods might be harmful to you or your baby because of the way they’re cooked or because of the germs or chemicals they contain. It can be a real bummer if you’re a die-hard fan of sushi or coffee. Fortunately, there’s more you can eat than what you can’t. Here’s a list of foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Why Should You Avoid Certain Foods During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy affects the immune system which makes some women more vulnerable to infection. There are foods that carry bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella or E. coli. or other infectious germs that might cause problems during pregnancy.

Even in cases where the pregnant woman does not feel sick, some of the germs might still affect the foetus.

Plus, there are certain pregnancy foods to avoid as your baby’s immune system has not developed yet to fight off the germs and is at an increased risk for developing a serious infection or even birth defects.

Here Is The List of Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

During pregnancy, it is advisable to avoid certain foods because these might be contaminated with bacteria that can be fatal for the foetus. Here’s a list of food to avoid during pregnancy:

  1. High mercury fish: A highly toxic element, mercury is most commonly found in polluted water. It can be toxic to your nervous system, immune system, and kidneys and might also cause serious developmental problems in children, with adverse effects.

The bigger and older the fish is, the more mercury it’s likely to contain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests all pregnant mums to avoid:

  • King mackerel
  • Bigeye tuna
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Marlin
  1. Undercooked or raw fish: This will be really difficult for all the sushi fans, but it’s an important one. Raw fish, especially shellfish, can cause viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections, such as norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Listeria.

Some of these infections might only affect you and cause dehydration and weakness.

Other infections can be passed on to your baby with serious, or even fatal, consequences.

  1. Undercooked, raw, and processed meat: Eating undercooked or raw meat can increase your risk of infection from several bacteria or parasites, including Toxoplasma, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.

These might threaten the health of the foetus, possibly leading to stillbirth or severe neurological illnesses, including intellectual disability, blindness, and epilepsy.

Cut meat, including meat patties, burgers, minced meat, pork, and poultry, should not be consumed raw or undercooked.

  1. Raw eggs: Raw eggs should be avoided during pregnancy as these can be contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria.

Some of the foods that commonly contain raw eggs include:

  • Poached eggs
  • Lightly scrambled eggs
  • Homemade mayonnaise, cake icings and ice-cream
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Some homemade salad dressings
  1. Organ meat: Although organ meat is a great source of a variety of nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin A, zinc, selenium, and copper, consuming excess of preformed vitamin A, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy, can lead to congenital malformations and miscarriage.

It is one of the foods to avoid in the first month of pregnancy too!

Excess caffeine intake cause miscarriage, stillbirth and preterm birth. | Image Source: pexels
  1. Caffeine: Is it safe to drink coffee during pregnancy? 

Expecting mums should limit their caffeine intake because it causes blood vessels in the uterus and placenta to constrict. This in turn reduces the blood supply to the foetus and inhibits growth.

Plus, excess caffeine intake cause miscarriage, preterm birth (birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy), low birth weight (when your baby is born weighing less than 2 kg, and withdrawal symptoms in infants.

It can also potentially disrupt foetal stress hormones, putting infants at risk for rapid weight gain after birth and for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes later in life.

Mums should limit caffeine to 200 mg a day.

  1. Raw sprouts: Raw sprouts like alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts might be contaminated with Salmonella and should be avoided during pregnancy.

The humid environment required by seeds to start sprouting is ideal for these kinds of bacteria, and are usually almost impossible to wash off.

  1. Unwashed produce: Expecting mums often think, “Which Indian vegetables to avoid during pregnancy?” Well, the answer is, you can eat vegetables but these have to be washed thoroughly.

The surface of unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables might be contaminated with several bacteria and parasites which can be acquired from the soil or through handling.

According to research, most infants who are infected with the Toxoplasma bacteria while still in the womb have no symptoms at birth. Symptoms such as blindness or intellectual disabilities are prominent later in life.

  1. Unpasteurised milk, cheese, and fruit juice: Raw milk, unpasteurized cheese, and soft-ripened cheeses can contain harmful bacteria that can cause life-threatening consequences for an unborn baby including stillbirth.
  1. Alcohol: It’s advised to avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy as it increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.

Even a small amount can negatively impact the unborn baby’s brain development.

In addition to these, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can also cause foetal alcohol syndrome, which involves facial deformities, heart defects and intellectual disability.

  1. Processed junk foods: Processed junk foods are one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy for sure.

Research shows that processed junk foods contain excess added sugar that can lead to compulsive overeating.

It is also linked with health conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory diseases.

  1. Saffron: It is advisable to consume saffron milk in pregnancy only at the onset of the fifth month of gestation when the pregnancy is stable and the risk of endangering the baby due to premature contractions has reduced.

You can use only two to three strands in any preparation, as too much of saffron might adversely affect the foetus.

  1. Fruits to avoid: Although fruits are healthy, there are certain fruits that should be avoided during pregnancy. Here’s a list of fruits to avoid during pregnancy:
  • Papaya: According to medical studies, raw or semi ripe papaya should be avoided during pregnancy as it contains latex which can induce premature contractions and can be dangerous for your baby.
Grapes are known to generate heat in the body which is not good for both mother and the child. | Image Source: pexels
  • Grapes: Medical reports also stand against the consumption of grapes, especially during the final trimester as grapes are known to generate heat in the body which is not good for both mother and the child.
  • Pineapple: Research has shown that bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, isn’t recommended during pregnancy as it can break down proteins in the body and lead to abnormal bleeding.

Although bromelain is found in the core of the pineapple, very little is actually in the flesh of the pineapple which is what we consume. The amount of bromelain in a single serving of pineapple isn’t likely to impact an expecting mum.

So, these were some of the fruits to avoid in pregnancy. We know it might be a little difficult if you have some of your favourites listed above. Instead, you can choose some of the healthy drinks during pregnancy.

What If You Accidentally Eat One of These Foods While Pregnant?

Expecting mums should be careful about what they consume during this crucial time. If they accidentally eat one of the above mentioned foods to avoid during pregnancy, it can be fatal for the health of the developing baby.

For instance, if you consume foods that are contaminated with harmful bacteria, it can lead to premature delivery, uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, miscarriage, stillbirth, and other serious health problems.

Some of the complications can also pose a higher risk of chronic diseases in adulthood.

Conclusion

During pregnancy, it’s essential to avoid foods and beverages that might put you and your baby at risk. We hope that our list of foods to avoid during pregnancy help you throughout the journey.

Although most foods and beverages are perfectly safe to enjoy, raw fish, unpasteurised dairy, alcohol, caffeine and high mercury fish should be avoided.

FAQs

What drinks can cause miscarriage?

Drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy might lead to miscarriage.

Are bananas good for pregnancy?

Rich in carbohydrates, bananas prevent anaemia and help maintain colon health. Bananas also help ease morning sickness during pregnancy. But, if you are allergic to bananas, it is advisable to avoid it.

Is cold water good for a pregnant woman?

There’s no evidence that states that cold water is harmful for pregnant women. However, cold water makes more combustion that’s needed. As the body temperature rises when consuming cold water, expecting mums get tired easily.

Therefore, it is advisable to limit the intake of cold water during pregnancy.

What milk is best for pregnancy?

Pasteurised milk is the best for pregnancy as raw milk usually contains bacteria that can be dangerous for you and your unborn baby.

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