• Know your do’s and don’ts
Identify your cravings and what foods you should avoid early on, as there is a variety of food that can cause illness or infection not only for your baby but for yourself as well.
Be careful of the following:
• High-mercury fish
In large quantities, high-mercury fish can be toxic to an individual’s nervous system, immune system and kidneys. It is also highly likely to cause developmental problems in children. High-mercury fish include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna (albacore tuna). However, low-mercury fish is very beneficial to a developing fetus and may be consumed up to two times each week. Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are also nutritious for the fetus.
• Undercooked or raw fish
Bacteria and parasites that can be detrimental to the overall health of both mother and baby may contaminate raw and undercooked fish and shellfish.
• Undercooked, raw, and processed meat
The same rule goes for raw or undercooked meat, which may also contain bacteria. A good rule to follow during pregnancy is to cook meat all the way through.
• Raw eggs
Raw eggs are unsafe as well as they may be contaminated with Salmonella that increases the risk of premature delivery or stillbirth. Pasteurized eggs are a good alternative.
• Organ meat
Eating large amounts can lead to vitamin A and copper toxicity. Thus, pregnant women are advised to limit their consumption to not more than once a week.
Coffee or any substances containing caffeine (e.g., softdrinks) should also be strictly regulated. Limit intake to 200 mg per day (two to three cups of coffee). Too much caffeine in the system can affect growth of the fetus and cause low birth weight.
• Raw sprouts
Raw sprout seeds may also be contaminated with bacteria. Cooked sprouts are safe to eat.
• Unwashed produce
It is important to thoroughly rinse all fruits and vegetables in order to minimize the risk of ingesting contaminants, like the bacteria Toxoplasma.
• Unpasteurized milk, cheese and fruit juice
In general, avoid unpasteurized milk, cheese, and juices as these increase the risk of bacterial infections.
Pregnant women must not drink alcohol at any time during the pregnancy as it can increase the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal alcohol syndrome.
• Processed foods
This can increase the risk of excess weight gain, gestational diabetes as well as other complications and pose chronic health implications for your baby.
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