Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Featured Article, Reproductive Health, Women's Health
on July 2, 2013
Pregnant woman eats salad

A happy, healthy pregnancy is the ideal situation for new mothers. Eating the right foods can mean that you and your baby develop properly and without any health issues; however, there are a few foods you should avoid during your pregnancy.

Soft cheese and unpasteurized dairy products. Certain cheeses, as well as unpasteurized milk and dairy products, contain a chemical called listeria. Consuming foods that contain listeria can lead to listeriosis, which can cause miscarriage, premature birth or fetal infection. According to the American Pregnancy Association, listeria can pass through the placenta and cause an unborn child to become sick, so pregnant women should take care to ensure all meats and vegetables are cooked and that they only eat hard cheeses and pasteurized dairy foods.

Raw meat, eggs and shellfish. Everyone should exercise caution when consuming raw or undercooked meat, eggs and shellfish, but pregnant women should be especially careful. According to the American Pregnancy Association, these foods can contain dangerous food-borne illnesses like E. coli and salmonella that can harm both mother and unborn child.

Caffeine. Though common myths say that caffeine can cause miscarriages, birth defects and even stunted growth in unborn children, no conclusive evidence supports or dispels these claims. Experts quoted by the American Pregnancy Association say that consuming between 150 and 300 milligrams of caffeine daily has not shown any negative effects during pregnancy.

Alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. Any of these items in any amount can be extremely harmful and potentially fatal to you and your unborn child. Avoid them at all costs.

Excessive calories. While some weight gain is natural during pregnancy, women should only add about 26 to 35 pounds over the course of pregnancy, according to the National Women’s Health Resource Center. Gaining excessive weight can put extra strain on your cardiovascular system, making it difficult for you and your unborn baby to get appropriate oxygen from blood flow. This can be potentially fatal if not addressed.