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June 19, 2019

Five foods to avoid during pregnancy

Women's Health Pregnancy

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Pregnant woman holding her stomach

Expectant mothers are often inundated with advice, solicited or not, during their 40 weeks of pregnancy. Much of the advice centers around what a mother should not eat, ranging from the obvious avoidance of alcohol to more unconventional restrictions.

Understanding how best to care for both a developing baby and your own body is key to safeguarding a healthy childbearing experience. But, before cutting out food items left and right, start with the basics. Here are five foods to avoid while pregnant:

1. High mercury fish

As the planet faces the effects of environmental pollution, our waterways have begun to collect higher levels of mercury—a dangerous chemical that turns into the neurotoxin methylmercury in bodies of water like oceans, lakes, and streams. As a consequence, fish can accumulate high levels of mercury that can be harmful to pregnant or breast-feeding women. This includes shark, swordfish, Albacore tuna, and mackerel.

If you’re pregnant and can’t resist a craving for fresh seafood, doctors advise limiting consumption to just once or twice a month, or choose lower-mercury options like salmon or tilapia.

2. Deli meat

Deli meat includes most meats that have been sliced or prepared, like lunch meat, cold cuts, or processed meats containing by-products. Pregnant women who are more susceptible to illnesses like Listeria, these meats can put both women and babies at risk for complications and even death.

For women who do plan to consume deli meat, doctors suggest recooking the meal until its steaming to kill off any Listeria bacteria.

3. Raw eggs

Due to the risk of salmonella contamination, pregnant women should avoid any consumption of raw eggs. This includes but is not limited to poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise, and raw cookie dough. Though most commercial products containing raw eggs use safe-to-eat pasteurized eggs, expectant mothers should always read the label to confirm. If you’re pregnant and worried you may have consumed un-pasteurized raw eggs, stay alert for symptoms of salmonella such as fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. If these symptoms are present, seek immediate medical attention.

4. Certain cheeses

Soft cheeses like gorgonzola, brie, camembert, and blue cheese can also carry a high risk of listeria. Because soft cheeses contain more water than its more solid counterparts, they’re more acidic and likely to support quick growth of bacteria. The hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy weaken the immune system and increase the likelihood of this bacteria becoming harmful to a mother and her unborn child.

5. Unwashed fruits and vegetables

Though pregnant women should be sure to eat a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables, failing to effectively wash these can be damaging to the health of pregnant women and their babies. Unwashed fruits and veggies can carry a parasite called Toxoplasma, causing the illness toxoplasmosis. These symptoms typically include swollen glands, fever, headache, muscle pain, or a stiff neck. The illness can result in a range of health defects to a fetus. To prevent toxoplasmosis, be sure to thoroughly wash or peel all fruits and vegetables before eating them.

While the list of possibly dangerous foods can feel restrictive, there are still plenty of foods pregnant women can enjoy. If you’re pregnant and looking for advice about what you should or shouldn’t consume, consult your medical professional or ob-gyn.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.

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