So you’ve got a bun in the oven. Congratulations! No doubt you’re being bombarded with all kinds of tips and suggestions for the smoothest, healthiest pregnancy possible.
It can get a little overwhelming, can’t it? There are a lot of things about your pregnancy that you can’t control – but your diet is one thing that you can manage in order to minimise any risks to that precious growing bump of yours. Here are some foods that are best to avoid for the next 9 months:
You probably already know this, but doctors recommend completely avoiding alcohol during pregnancy as it can affect your unborn baby’s brain and spinal cord cells. Struggling to give up your evening wine as you watch your partner guzzle down a beer with dinner? Ask him to give up the good stuff too – these days, plenty of men stop drinking in support of their pregnant partners.
2. COLD/UNDERCOOKED MEAT & POULTRY
Love your steak red and juicy? It’s time to leave it on the grill a little longer, ensuring that it’s cooked all the way through before you eat it. Cold deli meat such as ham and salami, paté, and even cold cooked chicken, is also off-limits due to the risk of listeriosis and salmonella, which can cause miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth. Ensure that all your meat is steaming hot before tucking in.
3. RAW/SMOKED FISH & SEAFOOD
Chilled prawns, smoked salmon, oysters and rare tuna steaks are temporarily off-limits while you’re growing bub, as they carry a very high risk of listeriosis and salmonella. Also avoid fish with high mercury levels, such as ling, barramundi, shark, swordfish and Bluefin tuna, as this can harm your baby’s central nervous system and cause speech and motor skill delay.
Aside from the risk of eating raw fish, cold rice is actually one of the biggest breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. However, if you are making your own and eating it immediately, provided you aren’t using raw fish or cold meat, you should be just fine.
5. UNPASTEURISED CHEESES
Soft cheeses such as brie, camembert and blue cheese are made using unpasteurised milk, which unfortunately is very susceptible to bacteria growth. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of cheeses you can snack on – cheddar, cream cheese and ricotta are just fine. If in doubt, check the label, which should note whether or not it is unpasteurised.
6. SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM
The machines used to make soft serve ice-cream are notoriously hard to keep sterile, leaving them – and the tasty ice-cream they produce – at a big risk for bacteria. Also avoid ice cream made using an egg custard base, because….
7. UNDERCOOKED EGGS
We all love a good runny egg, but while pregnant, ensure the white and yolk are completely cooked through to avoid the risk of salmonella. You also need to keep away from chocolate mousse made using egg whites, fresh mayonnaise and aioli, and as hard as it might be, no licking the spoon next time you’re whipping up a batch of brownies!
8. PRE-PREPARED RAW VEGETABLES
Those pesky bacteria seem to be everywhere, don’t they?! Even fresh vegetables/salads that have been pre-prepared and left to sit in the fridge for a while carry a risk for pregnant women. Avoid pre-made salads at the grocery store and the sandwich bar at the local deli, as well as dips at restaurants, which are likely to have been sitting in the fridge for hours before you get a chance to eat them.
While it seems a lot to take in, and there are almost certainly foods that you are going to miss sorely, it’s important to remember that these restrictions are temporary – you will have your ham and salad sandwiches again before you know it!
In the meantime, you can be satisfied with the knowledge that every time you say no to one of the foods listed above, you are making the best choice for your baby – good job, Mum!