Every expectant mom knows there are certain foods that should be avoided during pregnancy to protect the health of their unborn baby. The list, however, has become so long and so controversial that it’s difficult to know which foods/drinks actually pose a health risk and which ones are actually safe for consumption.
If you’re worried about your diet, talk to your doctor to find out exactly what foods you can or cannot eat. In the meantime, you should definitely avoid eating the following list of foods which have been proven to be the most dangerous when it comes to pregnancy.
1. Feta Cheese
Feta is a popular form of cheese, used in many salads and pastas and adored by food connoisseurs all over the world. If you’re a cheese lover who craves it even more during pregnancy, it’s important to know what cheese is safe. Unfortunately, this type of cheese (along with other soft, unpasteurized cheese which we talk about later in this article) has been linked to foodborne illness.
The most popular foodborne illness linked with this particular type of cheese is Listeriosis. In general, if you aren’t pregnant, consuming foods with Listeria would cause flu-like symptoms and not have any lasting effect or damage to your health. But if you are pregnant, avoid any cheeses that have “unpasteurized” on the label and opt for safer choices like mozzarella cheese instead. When infected with Listeriosis, there’s risk of a miscarriage, premature labor, and severe illness.
2. King Mackerel
King mackerel may be a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids for average individuals but the high level of mercury in this particular fish (and a few others on our list) can be potentially dangerous to your unborn baby. Too much mercury can damage your baby’s developing nervous system. The risks of consuming king mackerel fish while pregnant far outweigh the benefits, especially when there are a lot of other fish you can eat instead.
3. Caffeinated coffee/tea
The amount of caffeine a pregnant woman can safely consume has been widely argued by many experts. Caffeine can cross the placenta and affect your baby’s heart rate. Common sources of caffeine include, but are not limited to, coffee, tea and pop. Many doctors recommend that pregnant women consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day.
4. Deli meats
Deli meats are a staple lunch item in households across North America. They’re convenient and cheap, make filling sandwiches, and children generally like them, but their safety related to pregnant women has been a controversial topic for years. In general, processed deli meats should be avoided during pregnancy. These meats have been linked to causing Listeriosis – a dangerous foodborne illness that can cause miscarriage, severe illness and even stillbirths.
Liver – and most liver products (like liver pate or liver sausage) – contain dangerously high amounts of Vitamin A. Too much Vitamin A, especially during the first few months of pregnancy, has been linked to birth defects in babies. Monitor your intake of Vitamin A (ask your doctor how much of this vitamin is safe) and avoid high-dose multi-vitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements and any supplement containing Vitamin A.
6. Unpasteurized milk
Much like unpasteurized cheeses (like Brie and Feta, mentioned earlier in this article) unpasteurized milk can pose huge health risks to your unborn baby. Don’t drink raw milk (also known as unpasteurized milk), including sheep’s milk or goat’s milk (that includes goat cheese as well). Unpasteurized milk, along with uncooked and unwashed food, is a vehice for carrying pathogens that can make you extremely sick. Raw milk is at a significantly higher risk of being contaminated with Listeria compared to pasteurized milk, which can result in the disease Listeriosis.
7. Uncooked eggs
Many people toss a few uncooked eggs into their morning smoothies to give it a protein boost but pregnant woman should avoid eating uncooked eggs altogether. In their uncooked form, eggs pose a huge risk for salmonella poisoning. While an unborn baby can’t have salmonella poisoning (the pregnant mother can’t pass it on to the baby), there are several side effects that can impact the baby’s health and labor. Some of these include causing early labor and dehydration, since salmonella poisoning leads to vomiting and diarrhea.