Around the world, different cultures have different ideas about what pregnant women should eat or avoid.
During pregnancy, the immune system changes to protect both you and your growing baby. This increases the risk of being affected by certain food borne illness, more commonly known as food poisoning.
Listeriosis is a serious infection that can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery and stillbirth. Foods that could contain Listeria monocytogenes include sprouts, smoked seafood and raw milk. Soft cheeses that have not been pasteurized (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined or Mexican-style cheese — queso blanco, queso fresco, Panela) should be eliminated from the menu during pregnancy. Also avoid ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs, sausage, cold cuts and other deli meats or pre-made mayo-based salads. Learn more about Listeriosis prevention here: http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/prevention.html
Of course, a host of other bugs can cause foodborne illness. Other risky foods include raw or undercooked meat, eggs and seafood. Because big fish such as tuna, shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish tend to contain mercury, you should avoid those as well.
Research suggests excessive caffeine consumption may increase risk of miscarriage, and the current recommendation is to limit caffeine to 200 mg per day — about two eight-ounce cups of coffee. Keep in mind caffeine can cross the placenta and affect your baby’s heart rate. For this reason you may also want to avoid caffeine-containing teas, but some herbal teas aren’t pregnancy-friendly either. Avoid teas that contain lobelia, sassafras, coltsfoot, comfrey, blue cohash, and pennyroyal. Consult with your doctor or midwife before consuming herbal remedies or medicines.
If you’ve been craving ice cream morning, noon and night, the growing body of research supporting the avoidance of excessive sugar during pregnancy won’t be happy news. Even so, consuming less sugar is a good idea. It will facilitate a healthier weight gain and a decreased risk of gestational diabetes. It may even have beneficial effects on your developing baby — such as reduced risk of obesity.
Also worth putting on the ‘Do Not Consume’ list during pregnancy and breastfeeding are artificial sweeteners (aspartame/Equal, acesulfame potassium /Sunett, Saccharin/Sweet’N Low, Sucralose/Splenda, Stevia).
Pregnancy is time when mothers are often motivated to make lifestyle changes. The healthy changes you make during pregnancy are a lasting gift to yourself and your baby!
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