Some women think that pregnancy is a license to eat whatever they want — and as much as they want. But as soon as they go to the doctor, they learn that there is actually a long list of restrictions when it comes to what they can ingest. It can be really disconcerting, especially since the baby is so fragile in the first trimester and the mom-to-be is so worried about all the things that come with pregnancy and becoming a mom.
The list of dos and don'ts can affect every meal — from the mom's favorite way to prepare a bagel for breakfast to the sandwich she grabs for lunch to her meal plan for dinner. Moms want to make sure that they are eating a healthy balanced diet so that they can provide the right nutrients for the growing baby, but they might have an internal struggle with every food choice. The consequences of eating the wrong food could range from throwing up to harming the baby's development, and there are even chances of pre-term labor or that no mom wants to risk.
We have some information that might help in figuring out how to plan out meals and avoid the things that are really going to cause problems. Here are 10 pregnancy food restrictions that should be followed and 10 that should actually be ignored.
20 Follow: Raw Fish
People love sushi these days. It's a favorite delicacy that a lot of people enjoy every few weeks or months, trying various rolls and creations on dates or special occasions.
But pregnant women are warned about eating raw fish since their bodies are more likely to have problems with bacteria and worms and such that can be transmitted through undercooked food.
This warning makes a lot of sense. Fish can be filled with parasites that a body can normally fight off without any issue. But sashimi should be off limits for moms-to-be so that they don't sick and the baby's development isn't hampered by the illness.
19 Ignore: Not All Sushi Is Bad
Moms-to-be might think that their sushi nights are over, but that isn't necessarily the case. In fact, most sushi is still safe, as long as they stay away from the raw fish. There are still lots of options on the menu that are just fine.
A number of sushi rolls are made from vegetables and others are from cooked seafood. Those options are fine. Of course, moms need to be careful and make sure that they choose an establishment that is very sanitary and does well in their inspection reports. There are some dangers in any establishment, but an avocado roll is perfectly okay, and so are many other options on the sushi menu.
18 Follow: Cold Turkey Sandwiches
A sandwich might seem like the easiest and safest option for moms-to-be to have for lunch, knowing that there is a long list of issues that can happen with food while pregnant. But the truth is that cold turkey sandwiches — or ham or roast beef — are off the menu for women who are having a baby.
One of the most critical things for moms to consider is whether their food is well cooked, and deli meat isn't a great option, even if it was cooked a while ago in the past. The meats usually sit around for a while, and they can be contaminated fairly easily.
Most people never show any signs of a problem, but when a baby is on board, a woman is more likely to get sick and her baby might feel the effects of it.
17 Ignore: Some Sandwiches Are OK
While listeria is certainly a concern for moms-to-be, that doesn't mean that they can't figure out a way to enjoy a sandwich.
There are still a lot of options for those who like to put some meat or vegetables between two slices of bread. Even things like egg salad can be okay, as long as the mom-to-be makes sure that the ingredients haven't spoiled and the mayo hasn't bee out too long.
Even deli meats can be made to be safe if moms want to go the extra mile. The meat needs to be heated to the point of steaming so that the heat can kill the germs. It might take some extra steps, but moms can safely enjoy a sandwich as long as they are careful.
16 Follow: Caesar Dressing
Salads are a great thing for pregnant women to eat — unless, of course, there is a recall on lettuce. But moms-to-be need to heed the warnings of doctors and be careful about the dressing that they put on top of their healthy salads.
For the most part, anything that is bought on a store shelf is safe But the ones that are in the cold storage and the ones in restaurants need to be more carefully considered. Caesar dressing and homemade ranch and bleu cheese can be a problem. They are made with things that can make a pregnant woman sick, and that can be really bad for the baby.
Stick with the things that they are more certain of, such as oil and vinegar based dressings.
15 Ignore: Hot Dogs
The reason that hot dogs are on some lists to avoid during pregnancy is the same as deli meat. It can be dangerous to eat a hot dog that might have been processed months ago because listeria could be present in the food.
Don't get us wrong — there is a risk. But that is for people who choose to eat cold hot dogs. We don't know many women who actually do that. Instead, be sure to heat up the dog and kill the germs.
Also, be careful when dealing with the juices from the package, including cleaning up and washing hands afterward. It's safe to enjoy a good all-American hot dog as long as you do what you can to avoid the germs.
14 Follow: Smelly Cheese
Cheese is a great, healthy protein source. But women who are pregnant have to be careful about the kinds of cheese that they consume because of the possibility of getting sick and passing those issues on to the growing baby.
Pasteurized cheeses are generally safe, but women should avoid soft cheeses. In general, the smellier the cheese, the bigger the possibility of infection. That means skipping the brie and the gorgonzola, although cheddar, provolone and parmesan are generally OK.
There are some long lists of cheeses that aren't worth the risk, so check that out and just stick with the ones that are considered safe during pregnancy.
13 Ignore: Peanut Butter
Some doctors still list peanut butter on their list of things to be concerned about when pregnant women are planning their meals. But those lists are outdated.
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich can still be a great lunch, as long as neither the peanut butter nor the jelly is homemade since that can increase the possibility of contamination.
Peanut butter allergies are one of the most deadly issues for children these days. There has been a big increase in the number of children who have severe allergies, so doctors have taken different approaches to try to lower the possibility. But more recent research has revealed that it's better to expose the baby earlier, so moms are encouraged to continue to eat peanut butter in pregnancy.
12 Follow: An Important Note About Honey
We love the attention that people are making these days about eating as natural as they can. Many people are going even beyond the organic food aisle at the grocery store — they are visiting farmers markets and local growers, which can be good, but it can also be very dangerous during pregnancy.
While honey is dangerous for infants in the first year of life, it is safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as it is pasteurized. But since many people these days want to buy locally produced honey, we wanted to make sure to note the concerns since most smaller producers don't go through that process. There is a bigger possibility of contamination, and that is a risk for the baby.
11 Ignore: Some Drinks Are OK
One of the biggest warnings at the top of any pregnancy food guide actually involves drinks. It warns women to stay away from adult beverages because of the way that imbibing can impact the development of a little one. But more modern research says that having a minimal amount of drinks is OK.
No one is saying that it's all right to double fist the drinks while pregnant. There are incredible risks to the baby physically, mentally and socially that could last for an entire lifetime. But moms-to-be can feel a little better about the occasional beverage, at least according to the new research studies.
10 Follow: Avoid Certain Teas
Long before essential oils were a trend for health and relaxation, people have turned to herbal teas for their all-natural benefits. And they might have some benefits that appeal to pregnant women who go through a range of issues. But moms-to-be do need to be careful and heed some warnings about some types of teas, which could pose a problem during pregnancy.
Peppermint tea and ginger tea might be helpful for women combatting the nausea of morning sickness, and chamomile might help a pregnant woman relax and de-stress. But teas with licorice or pennyroyal might actually start contractions. And sage tea could elevate the blood pressure, while parsley tea can hinder fetal development.
Even worse, slippery elm bark tea and chicory root tea can trigger miscarriage. Moms-to-be who love herbal tea should be sure to consult some experts and lists to make sure that they choose options that are safe during pregnancy.
9 Ignore: A Cup of Coffee A Day Is Allowed
Caffeine is on the no-no list for women who are pregnant. That's because there is a possibility that the stimulant can have an effect on the developing baby, most notably in terms of attention issues and other behavioural problems, according to research studies.
But moms don't have to be as concerned as they might think. Doctors have found that one cup of coffee a day is OK, and if a woman loves the taste, she can have a cup or two of decaf as well.
Caffeine can be found in a lot of things, and doctors have determined that it's OK to have it in moderation. So, for moms who want to start out the day with a little bit of Folgers in their cup, that shouldn't be a problem at all while pregnant.
8 Follow: Smoked Food
As much as a woman might be craving some lox on her bagel, when she is pregnant, she should be sure to skip any smoked foods because there could be a real danger to the baby and to her own health. That's because anytime food is cooked a while ago and not reheated, it could be contaminated and could make her sick.
If the heat isn't applied just before consumption, then any food has the danger of having listeria or other germs that can cause food sickness. Usually, it's safe enough for anyone with a healthy immune system, but pregnancy messes with a mom's immunity, and it just isn't worth the risk. Your bagel will have to have another topping for nine months.
7 Ignore: Canned Food
Canned food used to be a staple of people's diets. A couple of decades ago, it was the best way to preserve food in order to get it to grocery stores and then to people's houses for them to eat.
But these days transportation and distribution systems allow for people to have fresh foods. And canned foods have become passe — and some even think that they are dangerous for a developing fetus.
That's because some cans used for canned foods have BPA in them. The substance is thought to have negative effects on the baby. But the truth is that BPAs have to be in really high amounts to cause problems, and most companies have phased them out of their cans. It's healthier to eat fresh food, but it isn't dangerous to have some canned green beans every once in a while.
6 Follow: Raw Shellfish
Mussels and clams are so yummy. But things that go straight from the sea and onto a plate are not really safe for women who are pregnant. We can't even imagine the kinds of microbes that might be in the delicacies, and we don't want to think about what they could do to a developing baby.
Oysters might be an aphrodisiac, but in the second trimester, at least, most moms-to-be don't really need the help. The food can make regular people sick more often than anything else on this list, so it's especially important to skip it when there is another life at risk.
5 Ignore: Most Seafood Is OK
Between the warnings about sushi and shellfish, many moms-to-be get scared off from eating any seafood. But they don't need to go that far. In fact, most fish is really healthy for a woman to eat while pregnant because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
There are some fish that tend to be high in mercury that should be avoided, such as shark, tuna (not the kind in a can), and other of the more expensive fish. And some doctors say that women should try to limit their fish intake to twice a week or so.
But they shouldn't be scared of shrimp and salmon. Those tasty treats are really good for the baby, as long as they are well cooked.
4 Follow: Vegan Concerns
A vegan diet can be very healthy and clean. But there are concerns during pregnancy that women need to read up on and even discuss with a nutritionist. It is possible to avoid meats, but pregnant women need a lot of protein and other nutrients that need to be found in other foods.
That means that vegan women have to be sure to eat a lot of legumes, whole grains, soy, and nuts for protein, yogurt, cheese, and leafy vegetables for calcium, beans quinoa, spinach and seaweed for iron and other things to avoid anemia, neural tube defects, and other developmental issues.
These concerns will remain during breastfeeding as well, so it's important to listen to the experts and make sure that your vegan diet has all of the nutrition that the baby needs.
3 Ignore: Raw Vegetables Are Too Healthy To Skip
There are lots of concerns on pregnancy lists about raw vegetables. But it's hard to consider anything so very healthy to be that dangerous for moms-to-be. Instead, we suggest the pregnant women heed a few warnings and continue to snack on their celery and carrot sticks.
First of all, pay attention to recalls. The recent romaine lettuce recall has taught us all the dangers of contaminated vegetables, so be sure to buy only vegetables that have been approved. Also, be sure to wash your veggies well before serving and eating.
Finally, sprouts can be one of the most dangerous for moms, so go ahead and skip those unless they are heated. Otherwise, enjoy a healthy snack.
2 Follow: Prenatal Vitamins Are Important
One of the most important pieces of advice from nutritionists and experts when it comes to eating as a pregnant woman doesn't involve food at all. Moms-to-be need to be sure to take prenatal vitamins every day, as they can provide all of the nutrition that the baby needs to develop and grow healthy in the mom's womb.
Some women can have a hard time remembering to take their prenatal vitamin, and an occasional miss is OK. But considering how hard it is to get the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals in the diet, we think that this is one guideline that all moms-to-be need to pay a lot of attention to and do their best to follow.
1 Ignore: Don't Freak Out Over Pregnancy Calorie Recommendations
In addition to the long list of pregnancy food restrictions, doctors and nurses start off the first prenatal appointment with a discussion about the number of calories that moms-to-be need to consume. They will stress a need to increase food, but they will also start lecturing about how eating too many calories can make it more difficult to lose weight later. It's all too much stress added on to an already stressful time in a woman's life.
While we aren't saying that moms should ignore their doctor's warnings about food, we don't want every meal or snack to bring on anxiety. Moms only need about 300 extra calories in the first trimester and 500 more in the third trimester, but that doesn't mean that they should never indulge in their cravings.
Moms-to-be with issues such as gestational diabetes need to be careful, but for most pregnant women, it's OK to enjoy that ice cream you have been craving. You are growing a human, and you deserve it.