You're eating for two, but that doesn't mean you should eat everything in sight!
While proper nutrition is one of the most important considerations during your pregnancy, not every food is fair game. There are many foods to avoid during pregnancy to ensure you and your sweet baby remain happy and healthy during those nine long months.
You might have to make some sacrifices, including avoiding some of your favorite treats until your precious baby arrives. This thoughtful abstinence will pay off when you see that sweet face for the first time. A few small dietary changes can shift the trajectory of your child's life.
We've created this guide to help you understand what foods to avoid while expecting. Keep reading to discover which foods might impact your baby's development and why.
Do you wake up and make a cup of coffee or tea before you've opened your eyes? Now that you're pregnant, it might be time to lay off the morning brew, plus any caffeinated sodas or energy drinks. The ACOG recommends that pregnant women consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine daily.
Caffeine passes directly through the placenta and can build up rapidly. Unfortunately, your baby doesn't have the enzymes necessary to process the complex caffeine molecule. This build-up can lead to low birth weight and an increased risk of SIDS.
2. Deli Meat
If you love deli meat, you aren't alone. Bacteria and parasites love it, too. Unfortunately, these pests can wreak havoc on your unborn baby.
The most common culprits include E. coli, listeria, Salmonella, and toxoplasma. These bacteria can cause neurological disorders and even stillbirth.
Any undercooked meat can cause problems, so don't order that steak rare. Also, avoid hot dogs for now. Instead, choose fully cooked lean meats like beef, chicken, or turkey.
3. Raw Greens
Many of your favorite raw greens need humidity to sprout and thrive. Unfortunately, the ideal conditions for these plants are also ideal conditions for Salmonella. Sprouts fall into the high-risk category and are best avoided or cooked.
Don't avoid vegetables for fear of contamination, however! Do your due diligence and pay attention to any outbreaks or produce recalls on the news. Leafy greens are one of the most beneficial foods during pregnancy, so prioritize those over sprouts.
4. Fish With High Mercury Content
Mercury is a toxic element, and humans should try to avoid consumption whether they're pregnant or not. It's more dangerous for babies in utero. Even small amounts can cause developmental issues.
Fish with the highest mercury content includes tuna, shark, and swordfish. Instead, choose low-mercury fish such as salmon, tilapia, or flounder. These contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which boost brain development.
5. Processed Snack Foods
Expecting mothers often experience pregnancy cravings, usually because their body needs a particular nutrient or mineral. If possible, figure out why you want the food rather than indulging in endless processed snack foods. Processed snacks lack nutrition, so they'll fill you up without supplying your baby with beneficial vitamins and minerals.
The ideal diet for pregnant women should include nutrient-dense whole foods, which contribute to your overall health and wellness. That doesn't mean you need to cut out snacks altogether! As always, enjoy those salty, sugary treats in moderation.
6. Unwashed Fruit and Veggies
The same bacteria and parasites on your deli meat might also be lurking on your produce. While we don't advise avoiding fruit and vegetables, we suggest washing them well using an organic veggie wash. You can reduce the risk by peeling vegetables or fruits and discarding the peels.
One of our best pregnancy tips is to do whatever it takes to reduce your risk of infection during pregnancy. It will keep your baby safe and ensure that you aren't ill. Toxoplasmosis infection can make you feel sick for weeks, which might mean a poor appetite and a reduction in nutrition for you and your little one.
Sushi is delicious, but a tasty slice of sashimi isn't worth the potential risk to your unborn baby. At best, it can cause infections that make you ill, impacting your ability to hydrate and take in nutrition. At worst, it can lead to health problems in your infant.
The biggest culprit is shellfish, such as shrimp and lobster, but all raw seafood carries a risk.
You don't need to stay home on sushi night, though. Ask your server about cooked options. A California roll is almost always a safe bet—and crab is a low-mercury fish.
8. Unpasteurized Dairy
The reason we pasteurize our dairy is to kill any bacteria or parasites before they get to consumers. With that in mind, unpasteurized dairy doesn't have that assurance and can cause complications during pregnancy. Stick to milk from the grocery store and research any unique cheeses you plan to consume while pregnant.
9. Raw Eggs
Has anyone ever warned you not to eat raw cookie dough? That's because raw eggs can contain Salmonella, whose effects we've already described. Order an omelet instead of a poached egg, and you should be okay.
Pâté (the liver of an animal) is full of nutrients, but this delicacy might contain too many nutrients! A pregnancy diet shouldn't include too much Vitamin A, which can impact your baby's healthy development. Stop taking vitamin A supplements, and avoid excess organ meat during pregnancy.
Note These Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Bringing a new life into this world is a responsibility, and sometimes being responsible means abstaining from some of your favorite foods for now. Now that you know what foods to avoid during pregnancy, you can make wise, informed dietary choices for yourself and your sweet little one. If you have specific concerns, speak to a doctor or nutritionist.
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