Expectant moms have a lot on their plate, growing belly, swollen ankles, raging hormones—name it, they're going through it. But there are a few things they literally can’t have on their plate. Some foods can be very dangerous to an unborn baby. Some can even harm the baby after it is born or the mother.
Some of the items on the list can cause increased heart rate in baby, learning disabilities, deformations, brain damage and even death. It’s so important to be aware of each item on this list.
There is a lot of information for an expecting mother to keep strait. These possibly harmful foods are so important to know about to keep both mom and baby safe and healthy.
Expectant women have so many demands on their bodies. Of course, trying to do everything possible to keep baby healthy and happy.
This list not only warns against foods that might harm mom or baby but also gives alternatives. For each item that should be limited or eliminated from an expectant woman’s diet there are substitutes to fill its place.
After having two healthy boys, I learned about harmful food #1 on the list. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it during the first two pregnancies even after I did lots of research. Make sure to read all the way to #1 –for the safety of the unborn baby.
14 Don't Eat: Raw Sprouts
Raw sprouts can be especially dangerous for expectant women. It is very easy for bacteria to grow in the sprouts. Some sprouts may contain Listeria, E.coli and even Salmonella.
All types of sprouts are susceptible to such bacteria growth including alfalfa, mung bean, clover and radish.
Keep in mind that for these sprouts to actually sprout from a seed they need to be in a warm, moist environment. This is the perfect environment for bacterial growth—making sprouts dangerous to a mom-to-be.
As previously mentioned about Listeria, E.coli and Salmonella can also cause harm to the fetus or newborn. Salmonella can also be very dangerous and even deadly for the mother.
13 Eat: Cooked Sprouts Or Lettuce
Sprouts are safe for pregnant women to each as long as they are fully cooked at high temperatures.
If you’d rather not risk it, thoroughly washed lettuce or romaine is a great alternative to sprouts.
Or try other clean veggies such as avocado, shaved carrots and radishes or cabbage. The trick to ensuring another veggie is safe is to thoroughly wash it.
There are quite a few restrictions pregnant women have. Taking the time to learn about what is dangerous can keep both you and your baby safe and healthy. Plus there are still lots of alternatives to help you make it to 40 weeks.
12 Don't Eat: Sushi
Sushi is a no-no with expectant women for several reasons.
One is that some fish contain high levels of mercury that might have a negative effect on the baby. Another is the dangers of consuming raw or undercooked meat during pregnancy. If not prepared correctly, sushi could lead to parasites or a bacterial infection.
Plus pexpectant women often have suppressed immune systems as their body furiously grows another human being. Making them even more susceptible to bacterial infections of parasites.
Just like with cold cuts, the consequences of eating raw sushi could be dangerous and even life-threatening to the unborn baby or newborn. With sushi, it’s best to play it safe and avoid all raw or undercooked meat.
11 Eat: Fish Free Sushi
If you just can’t kick the craving for sushi during you’re pregnancy, opt for fish-free rolls.
You could also enjoy sushi that has fully cooked meat in it. Just because the raw fish is off limits doesn’t mean you can’t get that seaweed and wasabi flavor you’ve been craving from veggie rolls or fully cooked rolls. You might even surprise yourself and find a new favorite you hadn’t tried before.
Make sure when you’re ordering to double check with your server that what you’ve chosen is fully cooked or contains no meat. More than likely, they’ll be happy to help you find something you can safely enjoy.
10 Don't Consume: Alcohol
Alcohol during pregnancy can have devastating effects and should be avoided completely. No known levels of alcohol have been proven safe during pregnancy.
Children exposed to alcohol in the womb may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). The results of this could include learning disabilities, speech and language delays, abnormal facial features, small head size and more according to WebMd.
Some doctors recommend no alcohol during pregnancy while others say that small amounts of alcohol are okay. The research has not clarified when or how much alcohol is actually safe.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pregnant women avoid it all together for the duration of their pregnancy.
9 Drink: A Non-Alcohol Substitute
Are you feeling like a steak just isn’t the same without a glass of Cab? There are alcohol free wine substitutes that might help you to feel a little more normal.
Non-alcoholic (NA) beer is available but these contain trace amounts of alcohol and aren’t completely non-alcoholic.
Mock-tails are another way you could put together a fun fruity drink without the alcohol. Drinks like this are usually so full of sugar you won’t mind the non-alcoholic taste.
Or give some new drinks a try. Splurge on a new, fun juice or health drink.
Still feeling left out of the party? Take a minute to Google “fetal alcohol syndrome brain damage” and you’ll find the courage to resist the urge.
8 Don't Eat: Cold Cuts
Cold cuts or deli meats are a lunchtime favorite for mom. But pregnant mamas should beware. Although rare, cold cuts could contain a bacterium called Listeria.
Listeria is more likely to affect moms-to-be and the result could be deadly. For mom, a Listeria infection would produce flu-like symptoms. Headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and fever are all symptoms of a Listeria infection.
For the unborn baby, Listeria can cause serious harm. It can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery, stillborn, infection in the newborn or death of a newborn.
One newborn recently was diagnosed with meningitis as a result of a Listeria infection. Listeria in mom-to-be can be treated with antibiotics.
7 Eat: Cooked Meats Instead
Expectant moms should avoid cold cuts to reduce the risk of becoming infected with Listeria. If you just can’t seem to avoid it, pop the cold cuts into the microwave or heat it on the stove until it’s steamy.
Heating cold cuts to temperatures high enough to create steam should kill any Listeria that may be present in the meat.
Still looking for a sandwich to pack in your lunch without cold cuts? Other alternatives could be a classic PB and J or a chicken salad sandwich (made with shredded chicken breast or canned chicken). Canned meats are safe for expectant women to eat as long as they are prepared and stored appropriately.
6 Don't Eat: Fish High In Mercury
As a result of our increasingly polluted planet, some fish contain levels of mercury that could be dangerous to a developing fetus.
Mercury is harmful to the nervous system. Although fish is a great food for moms, babies, and children, some types should be avoided or consumed in small quantities.
Some of the fish that tend to be high in mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish.
If you want to eat local fresh water fish, do some checking first to make sure rivers and lakes around you don’t contain high levels of mercury.
5 Eat: Fish High In Omega-3
Great question! Fish is great for developing brains and nervous systems. Expectant women and breastfeeding moms and children should definitely eat fish –but what kinds? Like with most things in life, variety is best. Salmon, shrimp, light canned tuna, cod, catfish, and tilapia are all usually lower in mercury.
White albacore tuna, though, should not exceed 6 ounces a week.
Local, freshwater fish might also be a great option as long as rivers and lakes where you live don’t contain high levels of mercury (check with your local EPA or land and water conservation office).
Keep an eye out for changing recommendations as scientists continue to study fish consumption, fatty acids and brain development. New studies are leaning towards higher fish consumption (of varying mercury levels) for expectant women but the FDA has yet to change their recommendations.
Currently the recommendations are 8-12 ounces of a variety of fish low in mercury every week.
4 Don't Eat: Soft Cheeses
The great cheese debate! Soft cheeses that are mold-ripened like brie, camembert, soft cheese made from mold-ripened goats’ milk and other similar cheeses with a rind should be avoided during pregnancy.
This has to do with that pesky Listeria again (For the details on how dangerous Listeria can be to unborn babies and newborns, refer back to the cold cut meat section). This is especially true for soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Cheese made from unpasteurized milk is referred to as “raw cheese”.
Raw cheese is becoming more popular in the United States and is very popular throughout Europe. But in many places in the US, making cheese from unpasteurized milk is actually illegal.
3 Eat: Regular American Cheeses
Depending on where you are, you might not have to worry about cheese from any unpasteurized milk. Unless you’re at a trendy or whole food restaurant, most of the cheese will be safe. If you’re not sure, make sure to ask your server.
Other cheeses should be perfectly safe for expectant mamas. Cheeses like Swiss, cheddar, Colby jack are safe for moms-to-be. These are the types of cheese you're most likely familiar with and have been eating all along.
If you ever have any doubts about what types of cheese you can eat, you can always ask your doctor about which types of cheese are safe. Most likely your doctor will give you an eatign guide when you go in for your first prenatal appointment.
2 Don't Drink: Caffeine
Do you love your morning coffee? Or do you drink it all day long?
Maybe pop or tea is your thing. Reguardless, the amount of caffeine an expectant woman consumes should be limited. For the mom, it increases heart rate and blood pressure. Which puts extra stress on your body that is already working so hard to grow baby.
Also, caffeine crosses the placenta and can effect baby. It may increase baby’s heart rate or effect baby’s wake and sleep patterns. The amount of caffeine that is safe may depend on your history and the recommendations from your doctor.
General one 12 ounce cup of coffee or less is recommended. As long as you're having a normal pregnancy with zero health complications having the odd cup of coffee shouldn't be a big problem.
1 Drink: Decaf Or Caffeine Free Drinks
Depending on advice from your health care provider, you may have several options.
One is to simply cut it out and try to move on (as a fellow coffee lover, this one is difficult). Instead you might cut down how many caffeinated drinks you consume each day. If you buy your coffee each morning, try going for a half caf so that you’re getting half regular coffee and half decaf.
You might also switch to decaf coffee or caffeine-free pop. You can even put the coffee in a left over regular contain if it will help to fool yourself!
You might also try black or green tea instead of coffee. Both still have caffeine but less so than regular coffee.
Is there something you’re really craving but can’t have during pregnancy? Comment below to tell us about it! Have you found an alternative for your craving?
Sources: American Pregnancy.org