7 Foods and Drinks to Avoid During Pregnancy

Now that you are pregnant, you will probably be asking lots of questions as to what foods and drinks to avoid. When it comes to eating and drinking during pregnancy, the best rule is to stay away from foods and drinks that can harm your baby.

1. Alcohol
Research has shown that heavy drinking at any stage of pregnancy can cause low birth weight and other more serious birth defects. Some say occasional alcoholic drink is okay but to be in the safe side, women are advised not to drink alcohol at any stage of pregnancy. This is because alcohol enters the baby’s bloodstream in the same concentration as yours and takes a very long time to leave it and can have permanent effects on developing organs like the brain. Some non-alcoholic alternatives you can consider include; apple or grape juice and tonic with lime, but no gin.

2. Caffeine
It is known that, too much caffeine can stop your baby growing properly and can even lead to miscarriage. In addition to this, too much caffeine can hinder your body’s ability to absorb iron which can cause anemia. If you must take caffeine; limit yourself to 200mg a day. Caffeine is present in a variety of foods and drinks such as tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks and chocolate.

It is important to note that,

-Regular energy drinks have very high caffeine (about 80mg)

– A can of Red Bulls has a caffeine content of about 80 mg

-A 50g bar of plain chocolate has up to 50mg of caffeine

– A can of cola has up to 40mg of caffeine

-A mug of tea about 75mg

-A mug of instant coffee about 100mg.

3. Fish
There are limitations for pregnant women on the amount and the type of fish to eat. Oily fish, such as wild salmon (fresh, frozen, or canned) and sardines are loaded with omega 3 which has significant health benefits. Pregnant women should however not eat more than two portions of oily fish per week. Fish high in mercury such as shark, marlin, swordfish, and even tilefish should be avoided. Also limit the intake of tuna to no more than two portions of fresh tuna or four medium sized cans per week

4. Liver
Liver pate and liver products like liver sausage contain excessive amounts of vitamin A and should be avoided because it can be harmful to the unborn baby

5. Eggs
Pregnant women should refrain from raw eggs as much as possible due to the high risk from salmonella poisoning from eggs. Pasteurised eggs and salmonella-free eggs are now available as the best alternatives. Avoid eating food made with raw eggs such as homemade ice cream, raw batter, homemade mayonnaise etc. Unpasteurised eggs should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.

6. Dairy products
Cheese and milk are valuable sources of calcium however; consume only pasteurised milk and cheese. Unpasteurised products can harbor an organism called listeria and other pathogens that can cause a serious illness in pregnancy. Stick to hard cheeses like Swiss and cheddar. Blue-veined cheese such as Danish blue and Camembert and should be avoided.

7. Meat and Poultry
Undercooked meat and poultry can harbor such bacteria as E-coli and Salmonella. E-coli is an organism that can live happily inside parts of the body. If allowed to contaminate food, it can cause a bad case of food poisoning. When preparing food, always wash your hands before and after, especially when handling raw meat and chicken. Also be careful at barbeques, by making sure your food is thoroughly cooked and avoid anything that is bloody.

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