What food should I avoid eating during my pregnancy?
Avoid alcohol as this has a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Too much alcohol during pregnancy may result in foetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause facial deformities, heart problems, low birth weight and mental retardation.
Listeria has been found in uncooked meats and vegetables. Pregnant women should avoid soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses. Salmonella is found in foods such as raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk products, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or undercooked eggs. This is why we advise women not to eat uncooked food and avoid soft cheeses when they are pregnant as these infections may lead to miscarriages and may be harmful to the fetus. Unpasteurized milk, soft cheese and uncooked meats, poultry and shellfish are associated with listeriosis which leads to miscarriage and stillbirths so it is best to avoid eating these during pregnancy.
If you want to be 100% safe then avoid it completely if possible. If you have to have your sushi fix then choose a clean restaurant after 12 weeks as the risk of miscarriage is lower after 12 weeks and all the organs would have developed by then so the risk of congenital abnormality is lower.
Caffeine can cross the placenta and affect your baby's heart rate. In addition, there have been studies linking the effects of caffeine and miscarriage, it is best to limit consumption to 2 cups of coffee / tea per day (not forgetting that caffeine may also interfere with sleep and cause urinary frequency).
If you can afford to go totally organic then go ahead. This may be difficult because of cost and availability. On the other hand for the majority of pregnant mothers eating a healthy well balanced diet is even more important than going all organic as pregnant mothers become the main source of nutrition for their foetus. As long as the food is properly cooked and prepared, this is fine. Fish and shellfish are good sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients but women should avoid certain types of fish with high mercury content like shark, swordfish and king mackerel. Too much mercury may damage the development of the baby's nervous system.
If women have not adopted this healthy lifestyle then pregnancy would give them a great excuse to start. It just requires a tiny bit of effort on the pregnant woman’s part to be more conscious of what they are eating but the benefits to their baby and themselves is immense.
Dr Christopher Ng
#04-03A Camden Medical Centre
1 Orchard Boulevard
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