Being pregnant means that whatever you eat, your baby is eating too. A healthy diet during your pregnancy can help with your baby’s development and growth. However sometimes it’s difficult to know what foods can be harmful. More foods can affect your health or your baby’s than you might realize. Understanding what foods to avoid during pregnancy can help you make the healthiest choices.
Below are some general guidelines of healthy eating for you and your baby:
- Avoid seafood high in mercury. Fish can often be a great source of iron, protein and good fats such as omega-3 fatty acid, however, high levels of mercury can harm your baby. Do not eat swordfish, shark, king mackerel or tilefish. Ask your doctor about safe fish to eat during your pregnancy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers further guidelines on eating seafood during pregnancy.
- Avoid raw, undercooked or contaminated seafood.
- Avoid undercooked meat, poultry and eggs. This includes processed meats such as hot dogs or deli meats, all of which should be thoroughly cooked until steaming hot or avoided altogether.
- Avoid unpasteurized foods including milk and soft cheeses such as brie, feta and blue cheese.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables to remove bacteria, dirt and pesticides.
- Avoid large quantities of liver which can have too much vitamin A. Liver in small quantities is OK.
- Avoid caffeine which has been associated with low birth weight.
- Avoid herbal teas which may contain herbs that could have unanticipated effects on your baby.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been shown to have damaging effects on an unborn baby including facial defects, heart problems, low birth weight and miscarriage or stillbirth.
A healthy diet will help you feel better during your pregnancy and improve the health of your baby. If you have gestational diabetes, your diet may be more restricted in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor about any dietary concerns you may have.