The first trimester can be an agonizingly anxious time for many Mums-to-be who desperately count down the days until they reach the second trimester. Those first twelve to fourteen weeks of pregnancy are a time of constant caution, worry and waiting. Pregnant women need to be extra careful in order to protect themselves and their growing baby from the very real risk of miscarriage.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few factors that can trigger a miscarriage including genetic abnormalities which are completely out of our control. To avoid any risks from our daily lives pregnant woman can be vigilant of certain aspects which can help reduce the danger of miscarriage, most importantly food intake. We have complete control of what we eat during pregnancy and can limit the possibility of danger to the fetus by being wary of the foods we consume.
Recently, it was recognised by researchers that the likes of paté and soft cheeses pose a higher risk to the fetus than originally thought. Most of us know that the bacteria, listeria, is highly dangerous and potentially life threatening. We’ve always been advised to avoid anything that can potentially come in contact with the bacteria including cold deli meats and smoked salmon. We are now being advised to be extra cautious as researchers have discovered that the risk is not only high at the end of pregnancy as originally thought, but also poses a substantial risk in early pregnancy also. To be on the safe side, avoid foods which are at risk of listeria. Listeria causes listeriosis which is an infection that has links to meningitis, severe headaches and tremors.
In addition to listeria, there are many foods, supplements and drinks which should be avoided as much as possible throughout pregnancy to avoid miscarriage. We’ve compiled a list to guide you in avoiding foods which you may not have known can cause miscarriage. Remember the golden rule when eating for two – Everything in moderation.
15 BPA Chemical – Foods Storage
Pregnant women are advised to limit their exposure to the Bisphenol-A (BPA) chemical which can be found in water bottles and other plastics and also in food and beverage cans. Many of the items used to store our daily foods are held by materials which are made with linings or resin that contain BPA. Naturally, the chemical can migrate into the food the container is holding. Foods with higher acidity, like tomatoes, can absorb higher quantities of BPA.
While the risk is minimal unless in high dosages, exposure to BPA has been associated with miscarriage and developmental disorders. More research is needed in the area but for the moment there is no harm in simply protecting yourself and your baby by steering clear of containers that obviously contain the chemical.
If you don’t know if your plastic bottle contains BPA, check the recycling code on the label. If the container is marked with a 3 or 4 then it more than likely contains BPA. Alternatively, use metal or glass containers and don’t store food or microwave food in hard plastic containers.
14 Tortoise Meat
Tortoise meat has long been praised for its healing properties which include preventing and suppressing liver cancer, stomach cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Despite protection orders against the slaughter of turtles, you may come across the delicacy while on holiday in the Seychelles or similar.
The high incidence of sea turtles that are infected and sick has resulted in many people being poisoned by the tortoise meat from Salmonella bacteria, Mycobacteria, Chlamydicaceae, Parasites and Leptospires. All of which are potentially life threatening to a fetus causing miscarriage.
13 Bitter Melon
Rich in nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin B, you would imagine that Bitter Melon is a positive addition to any pregnant woman’s diet. It can also aid the immune system and reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes by controlling the blood sugar levels. However, bitter melon has the ability to produce uterine contractions and can irritate the uterus causing bleeding and fetal hemorrhage. It contains vicine which has the ability to break up red blood cells which can cause anemia leading to significant health risks for a pregnant woman.
Bitter melon is best avoided in high quantities by pregnant and nursing women. While there are positive aspects to eating bitter melon such as its high folate count, which protects the baby from neural tube defects, and a high fiber content, it should be eaten sparsely and in moderation. Consult your doctor if you are unsure of how much can be eaten.
12 Heat Inducing Foods
Foods have certain qualities and components which can make them have a cooling or a heating effect on the body. For example, asparagus and coconut are cooling whereas foods such as pineapple and ginger are heating. It has long been believed that consuming too many heat inducing foods can cause uterine contractions which run the risk of leading to miscarriage in a pregnant woman or harm the baby.
While there is no determined scientific proof that heat inducing foods can cause miscarriage or premature labor in women, we have all tried or told our friends about eating pineapple or drinking pineapple juice to bring on labor.
If these foods are eaten in moderation, there should be no detrimental effect on the pregnant woman or her baby. It is best to be aware that certain hot foods can overstimulate the digestive system resulting in increased bowel movements which can upset your system and have a negative effect on your pregnancy. It is wise to be aware of the risks and to limit consumption of certain foods like this, especially in the first trimester, such as pineapple, ginger (however, used in moderation can be effective in alleviating nausea), artichoke, papaya and red chillies.
11 Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera is one of those natural herbal remedies we all run to for it’s magical healing ability. We have all used it for cuts and grazes, acne, and rashes. And it works wonders! The gel of an Aloe Vera plant has incredibly healing qualities which has been used for thousands of years to protect against skin complaints. It is also used as a powerful laxative agent and to prevent heartburn, indigestion and stomach ulcers.
It is not something you would naturally think to avoid during pregnancy. However, Aloe Vera juice is highly dangerous to pregnant women as it contributes to uterine contractions which can result in early pregnancy loss. Consumption of Aloe Vera juice during pregnancy lowers blood glucose levels which can be potentially dangerous to Mum and baby.
It is best to avoid Aloe Vera consumption while pregnant, and if breastfeeding, it’s important to remember the laxative effect of the plant which can be passed on to the baby during feeding, negatively causing diarrhea or vomiting in the baby.
10 Vitamin A
Pregnant women are advised to take a pregnancy supplement throughout their pregnancy to ensure that the correct amount and the correct array of vitamins are consumed, making certain that they are receiving the right nutrients. However, have you ever noticed that Vitamin A is not included in pregnancy supplements? That is because excessive absorption of Vitamin A is potentially dangerous to the pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
Vitamin A is stored in the liver and is an important factor for your baby’s growth while in utero. It ensures the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones as well as the circulatory, respiratory, and central nervous systems. It also aids postpartum tissue repair for the mother after birth and fights infections.
During pregnancy however, it is important not to absorb too much Vitamin A as high dosages can cause birth defect, liver toxicity and miscarriage. Liver is a high source of Vitamin A and should be avoided in pregnancy to reduce the risk. It can be consumed once or twice a month but no more.
9 Sprouted Potatoes
Potatoes which have started sprouting and have gone green are a risk to everyone, not just pregnant women, as they contain toxins which are potentially harmful. The toxins known as alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine are linked to spina bifida, hydracephalus and other developmental issues in the fetus’ of pregnant women and can result in miscarriage.
They say that it is possible to cut the sprouts off and eat the potato once it is not wrinkled and soft but better safe than sorry and just throw them away. There is no point in risking your baby’s health over a few potatoes. Buy fresh potatoes and store them in a dark, cool place to ensure they last longer. If they are kept in a warm area, they will sprout quicker causing the harmful toxins.
8 Unpasturised Foods Like Freshly Squeezed Juice
Unpasturized foods are one of the most common foods pregnant women are told to avoid during their pregnancy. The reason we must keep our distance from such foods is due to the fact that they are prone to harbour the bacteria, listeria, which is threatening to a fetus. Listeria causes Listeriosis which is an infection. It may not cause obvious symptoms for a pregnant woman, but may cause a serious infection in the fetus leading to miscarriage or stillbirth. It can also cause preterm delivery and life-threatening fetal infections.
Foods that are easily infected with listeria are unwashed fruit and vegetables, cooked deli meats, unpasturized dairy products and smoked seafoods. In fact, freshly squeezed orange juice is at risk of harboring the bacteria as it is unpasteurized juice. It may contain harmful bacteria from the raw fruit used to make the juice leading to food poisoning.
7 Put Down The Cookie Dough
The reason cookie and cake dough is a big no no for pregnant women is because it contains raw egg. It is not the raw egg itself which has the ability to cause a miscarriage but rather the salmonella which may be contained in the egg. The salmonella bacteria can cause the mother to suffer extreme food poisoning, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea which may possibly result in miscarriage.
To avoid the possibility of salmonella poisoning ensure eggs are cooked appropriately and avoid the cookie dough. The yolk of an egg must be cooked thoroughly to kill off any salmonella bacteria. Remember that raw egg can be found in many other foods for example Hollandaise Sauce, Mayonnaise and Caesar Salad Dressing. Once pasteurized eggs were used, which the majority of restaurants use, then these food staples are perfectly OK to eat.
6 Raw Vegetable Sprouts Including Mung Beans
Raw sprouts are a great accompaniment to any dinner including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts, however they should not be consumed in pregnancy due to the health risks they pose. Alfalfa can contain e-coli while radish and mung beans can lead to salmonella poisoning from listeria bacteria. As a pregnant woman’s immune system tends to weaken as the pregnancy progresses, they are more prone to complications from infections from such bacteria which can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth, or spur on premature labor.
While the mother, may not have too many visible effects from consuming raw vegetable spouts, the effect the bacteria has on the fetus is profound and sometimes fatal.
To ensure vegetable sprouts are ok to eat during pregnancy, cook them thoroughly to kill off any bacteria. Simply rinsing the sprouts will not get rid of any bacteria. Ask for the sprouts to be removed when ordering at a restaurant, or at a deli on your sandwich or salad.
5 Herbal Teas And Supplements
More often than not, pregnant women believe that because herbal teas do not contain any caffeine they are a good substitute for tea or coffee in pregnancy. However, herbal teas and natural supplements contain a variety of ingredients which could be potentially harmful to the fetus.
There are many herbal teas that can cause uterine contractions in a pregnant woman, resulting in miscarriage or fetal stress. Herbs associated with uterine stimulation include black cohosh, blue cohosh, chamomile, comfrey, goldenseal, lemongrass, licorice root, mugwort, rosemary, sage, stinging nettle leaf and yarrow. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the majority of commercially available herbal teas are safe for pregnant women however non-commerical varieties, which are not monitored and may contain harmful amounts of specific herbs, are not safe.
There are teas which are marketed specifically for pregnant women, for example raspberry tea leaf, however it is worthwhile noting that there is conflicting information on whether or not this is suitable for pregnant women. Some suggest it should only be used in the third trimester as a method to reduce the length of labor, while some say it shouldn’t be consumed at all.
4 Black Licorice
Black licorices seems like a fairly harmless candy which you wouldn’t imagine could be harmful during pregnancy. Unfortunately, the popular treat should be fully avoided during pregnancy and also while breastfeeding.
The reason black licorice is deemed to be dangerous to pregnant women is because it contains a herb known as Glycyrrhiza glabra which has been used as a natural sweetener for a long time. It has positive attributes including treating stomach ulcers, eczema, indigestion and has even been used to treat canker sores.
However, licorices, when consumed in high quantities (more than 20g per day) can negatively affect your adrenal system resulting in heart problems, high blood pressure and headaches. For pregnant women, the risks are greater, as it can play a part in miscarriage. In addition, licorices, can alter how the stress hormone is passed onto the fetus through the placenta. Natural protectors usually restrict the release of the hormone over to the fetus, however, licorices inhibits this barrier which can lead to higher exposure to the fetus resulting in higher levels of stress hormones in your child after they are born.
3 Processed Junk Food
Pregnancy comes with a tirade of cravings and we are always told to give in to them and indulge in what we want. There are plenty out there who believe that, as they are putting the weight on anyway, they can nourish their every craving and food desire including junk food and fast food.
This is not the case. In fact, overindulging in junk food has been proven to be a factor in miscarriage. According to scientists who conducted research into the effect of junk food and fast food in pregnancy, the risk is very real with the hazard increasing with the amount of trans fats and hydrogenated fats consumed.
In general, a pregnant woman should be conscious of her diet and limit fatty foods. Ideally, a healthy diet with the right amount of appropriate nutrients is advised and unfortunately, for those with a sweet tooth or craving for burgers, this does not include junk food or processed foods.
2 Wild Apple
Wild apples, also known as crab apples, are beautiful with a sour and bitter taste combined with a ripe sweetness. They can be a great snack food, and quite enticing for pregnant women who are suffering from morning sickness. However, they are not recommended for pregnant women as certain enzymes in the fruit can cause uterine contractions.
Uterine contractions is an ailment in early pregnancy which can lead to miscarriage. The tightening and shortening of the uterine muscles can cause the cervix to thin and dilate and ultimately encourage the baby to descend into the birth canal. At such an early stage in pregnancy, uterine contractions are the prime cause of miscarriage.
1 Seasame Seeds
Sesame seeds have long been associated as a miscarriage risk with the threat heightened when sesame seeds are mixed with honey. The added combination can lead to spontaneous abortion and miscarriage. Sesame seeds are another category of heat inducing foods which can produce heat in the abdomen resulting in ill effects in pregnancy.
While there is no scientific proof that claims there is a greater chance of miscarriage with sesame seeds, it is best to avoid them anyway in the first trimester as the risk of miscarriage is greater at that stage. The quantity of consumption would have to be high enough to cause any negative effects even in the first trimester.
Sources: WebMD BabyCenter