It’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy to ensure your unborn baby receives the relevant nutrients for growth. However, certain foods can make you feel ill, cause food poisoning or harm your baby if eaten during pregnancy – and while it can be confusing to know what foods are safe and what are harmful, it’s worth taking the time to get to know the foods to avoid and to be careful.
These are some of the main foods to avoid during pregnancy, but if you’re ever in any doubt it’s best to be cautious and not eat the item and then check with your midwife at a later date.
Soft cheeses made with mould should be avoided as they can contain listeria bacteria that can cause listeriosis which can have severe consequences. Avoid mould-ripened cheeses like brie and camembert as well as blue-veined soft cheeses like Roquefort, gorgonzola and Danish blue.
Even a mild form of listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or a serious injury in a newborn baby, so it’s always best not to risk being infected with listeria bacteria even though it’s rare.
As hard cheeses have less water, bacteria is less likely to grow in it, which is why the likes of cheddar and stilton are safe to eat. You can also eat cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese and halloumi provided they are made with pasteurised milk.
Avoid unpasteurised milk, including goats’ and sheep’s milk as well as cheese made from this milk such as soft goats’ cheese.
Eggs are a good source of protein but must be cooked thoroughly with no runny white or yolk allowed. Raw or partially cooked egg can cause salmonella poisoning, so you should also avoid products made using these such as homemade mayonnaise.
Meat must be cooked thoroughly with no blood or pink meat visible before it’s safe to eat. Take extra care with products like sausages and minced meat. Don’t eat rare meat as there is a risk of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite that can be found in meat along with cat faeces, untreated water and soil. While it’s rare, toxoplasmosis can damage your baby.
To prevent the spread of harmful bacteria that can cause infection, it’s important to wash your hands after handling raw meat and to wash thoroughly any utensils that have come into contact with raw meat.
Avoid raw shellfish as well as shark, marlin and swordfish. And limit your intake of oily fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel to two portions a week.
Avoid all types of pâté, including vegetarian as it can contain listeria bacteria.
This is fine to eat provided that the fish has been frozen first. Freezing the fish means that any worms that may have been within it are killed, making the raw fish safe to consume.
Avoid vitamin supplements with vitamin A as well as liver and liver products as these contain lots of vitamin A which can harm your baby.
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