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You just found out that you're expecting and you're a little nervous. Maybe this will be your first child. There are so many questions that come along with the pregnancy. You probably wonder how to best take care of your little one before you welcome them into the world. Many pregnant women wonder if there are foods to avoid while pregnant.
Do you know what they are?
Having questions about pregnancy is normal.
So don't worry.
We've put together this ultimate pregnancy guide of do's and don'ts for expecting moms-to-be.
What Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
What may be considered healthy food for most people, may not be healthy for you during your pregnancy.
A good example of this is seafood. During pregnancy, you should avoid seafood with high levels of mercury. This includes fish like:
- King Mackerel
Many fishes used in sushi also have high mercury content.
Raw & Smoked Fish
If you are in the mood for fish, you should avoid raw and smoked fish as well. These preparation methods can be contaminated with hidden bacteria, like listeria. Consuming meats like this is fine when you aren't pregnant, since your immune system usually does a good job of fighting bacteria off. But because these preparation methods increase your chance of ingesting food-borne bacteria, you should refrain from eating them while pregnant.
Also on the list of foods to avoid while pregnant are deli meats. Luncheon meats have been known to be contaminated with listeria, which can cause serious illness, even leading to miscarriage. If you're going to consume deli meat, make sure you reheat until steaming. Pate and meat spreads should also be avoided until after birth, unless they are canned or shelf-safe.
Raw eggs and products containing raw eggs should also be completely avoided to limit your risk of salmonella. Some homemade items are typically made with raw eggs, such as:
- Caesar dressing
- Hollandaise sauce
- Ice cream
Be sure to double check with your host and stick to commercially manufactured versions of these products, as they'll have been made with pasteurized eggs.
You should also avoid imported soft cheeses. Soft cheeses are typically made from unpasteurized milk. Eating these cheeses also increases your chance for exposure to food-borne bacteria. However, domestic soft cheeses are usually pasteurized and safe for consumption. You can look for verification of pasteurization; the label should state whether or not the cheese has been pasteurized. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and avoid soft, unpasteurized cheeses.
Unwashed Fruits & Vegetables
You should also avoid unwashed fruits and vegetables during your pregnancy. Like other uncooked foods, unwashed vegetables may carry hidden bacteria. Eating unwashed vegetables during pregnancy can expose you to toxoplasmosis. Subjecting a fetus to the toxoplasmosis parasite can lead to a wide range of negative effects, including premature birth and low birth rate.
As alcohol passes through the placenta and into baby's blood stream, there simply is no amount of alcohol considered safe while pregnant. While some feel a glass of wine or two a week is safe, the risks of fetal alcohol disorders and birth defects seem to outweigh the benefits.
Which Foods Can Increase Miscarriage Risk?
During pregnancy, pregnancies are particularly susceptible to miscarriage during the first trimester. Most miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy and are unavoidable. These may be due to genetic issues with the fetus, complications with the uterus, cervix, or any other host of things.
However, certain foods have been found to trigger contractions and induce labor unexpectedly. While the risk of diet-induced miscarriage decreases as the pregnancy progresses, there are foods to avoid while pregnant to reduce your risk of miscarriage.
If you're having unexpected cravings for pineapple, it's best that you ignore them. Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain. Bromelain can be used to reduce swelling and aids in decongestion. However, it can soften the cervix. This can result in early contractions in pregnant women.
Crabs & Shellfish
You should also avoid crabs and shellfish in general. Crabs are rich in calcium – and cholesterol. High cholesterol levels during pregnancy can shrink the uterus. This shrinkage can result in spotting, internal bleeding, and even miscarriage. If you're looking for a good source of calcium, it's better to stick to milk and avoid crab during pregnancy.
Eating papaya can also increase your risk of miscarriage. Unripe papaya has naturally occurring ingredients with laxative effects. Laxatives can induce early labor and increase your risk for miscarriage. You should also avoid the seeds of the papaya. Special enzymes in the papaya seeds can induce involuntary contractions of the uterus. Because of this, it's safer to simply avoid papaya altogether during your pregnancy.
Consuming raw dairy products can also increase your risk of miscarriage. Pasteurizing dairy products helps eliminate bacteria that can harm your pregnancy. Unsafe bacteria, such as listeria, cannot only harm the fetus but also induce a miscarriage. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products to reduce your risk for miscarriage.
Similar to raw dairy, consuming processed meat may increase your risk of miscarriage. Avoid eating undercooked or raw meat during pregnancy because you may inadvertently consume bacteria. These bacteria in undercooked and processed meats can induce a miscarriage.
High levels of caffeine consumption may also increase your risk of miscarriage. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can lead to low birth weight. Increased caffeine consumption may not only increase your risk for miscarriage, but it can also lead to dehydration. If you can't kick your caffeine habit, many studies suggest that caffeine in moderation can be safe during pregnancy. However, it may be best to avoid caffeine during pregnancy if you have concerns.
As always, talk to your doctor for the best prenatal advice.
Things Not to Do in the First Trimester
The first trimester of your pregnancy will change your body dramatically. The first trimester can be a challenge for many moms. Many women don't realize that they are pregnant until they are four to five weeks along.
At the first sign of pregnancy, there are a few precautions that you should take.
If you are a smoker, you should immediately stop smoking as soon as you know you are pregnant. If you live in a household with a smoker, they should also stop smoking. Smoking and exposure to smoke during pregnancy can lead to birth defects and low birth weight. It may also increase your chances for miscarriage.
You should also cut all alcohol from your diet. Like smoking, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can also lead to birth defects, low birth rate, and miscarriage.
As soon as you know you are pregnant, you should schedule a visit with your doctor. Verify that any prescriptions that you are taking are safe for pregnant women and start taking a prenatal vitamin.
During your first trimester, you should maintain a healthy, balanced diet. While it may be tempting to indulge in those sudden and intense cravings for junk food, you should resist. You may have also heard of the phrase, “eating for two”. Contrary to popular belief, you should eat only until you are full. Unless your doctor prescribes a high-calorie diet, you don't need to worry about eating excessive amounts of food during your pregnancy.
If you are a cat owner, you should also avoid cleaning the litter box. Cat feces, especially from cats that go outside, is known to contain the toxoplasma parasite. Exposure to this parasite during pregnancy can infect your baby. This can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, and a variety of postnatal health problems.
How Can You Take Care of Yourself During Pregnancy?
Taking care of yourself during pregnancy can feel overwhelming.
But the good news is that it is a relatively simple and straightforward process.
Take a good look at your diet. It should be full of fruits and veggies and well-balanced. Try cutting out foods high in sugar and processed ingredients. Maintaining a simple, balanced diet is the key to taking care of yourself during pregnancy.
You should also drink lots of water. Hydrating your body is essential to a healthy baby. It can also help with some of the side effects of pregnancy.
Finally, make sure you're getting enough sleep. While knowing which foods to avoid while pregnant is important, so is your rest. Pregnancy takes a toll on the body. It's a tough job producing a little human! Getting adequate sleep keeps you (and your baby) healthy along your pregnancy journey.
Healthy Drinks for Pregnant Women
By far, the healthiest drink for pregnant women is water. Staying hydrated throughout your pregnancy is essential. Not only are you keeping yourself hydrated, but you are also keeping your baby hydrated.
If you feel like you want something flavored or different than water, there are a variety of healthy drinks that are safe for you during pregnancy.
Coconut water is a flavorful alternative to regular tap water. Coconut water contains nutrients that help replenish natural salt levels in the body. Not only will it help hydrate you, but it will also help balance you out.
Lemonade is also a good alternative for water. This bright drink is packed with Vitamin C. Studies also show that lemonade can help alleviate morning sickness. However, lemonade can also be filled with sugar. Opt for making your own with freshly squeezed lemons and a natural sweetener, like Stevia or find healthy supermarket versions.
Milk is also a healthy drink option during pregnancy. Milk provides hearty doses of calcium, protein, and vitamin B12. These nutrients are all essential for the healthy development of your baby.
Similar to lemonade, fresh fruit juices can also be a healthy alternative to water. You should avoid store-bought juices. These mixtures are mostly filled with concentrates and artificial sweeteners.
Try juicing a few different fruits to make one delicious juice blend.
Vegetable juices can go hand in hand with fruit juices. Try juicing up some vegetables with your fruits to make a powerful, vitamin-rich morning beverage. These healthy alternatives are great for your baby.
Ice tea can be a great, healthy option during pregnancy. However, many teas contain caffeine. While it's not necessary to eliminate all caffeine from your diet, you should opt for decaffeinated teas if you're concerned.
Pregnancy can feel complicated and overwhelming – but it doesn't have to.
You simply need to focus on taking care of your body. A healthy mom means a healthy baby. Follow this easy guide on the do's and don'ts of pregnancy and you'll be all set for the arrival of your healthy baby.
Did you already know what foods to avoid while pregnant? Feel free to share your top tips down below!