Attaining motherhood is the greatest fulfillment in the life of every woman.
And the pregnancy period is the most delicate and careful time in the life of a woman. Every woman wants her going to be born a child to be healthy and cute.
The unborn child in the womb also is very delicate, and the foods that the mother eats have a direct impact on the life and health of the child.
So, it is important to know what foods to avoid during pregnancy.
The mother needs to pay a lot of careful attention to what she should and shouldn’t eat during pregnancy.
Great care to be given for a healthy diet during pregnancy and the same or, even more, attention to be given to the foods to avoid when pregnant.
In this article, you can read about 12 commonly used foods that are NOT to be consumed by a pregnant woman.
1. Avoid Consuming Calorie Rich Foods In Excess Amount
Most pregnant women have misunderstood the idea of eating a lot of calorie-rich foods in excess as they think they need to eat for ‘two persons.’
A woman is becoming obese or overweight during pregnancy period adversely affects the health of both mother and child. They can face an increased risk of health complications such as diabetes, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, blood clots, and death.[1,2,3]
There is also the increased possibility of ‘future child’ becoming obese at the childhood period itself.
For a generally healthy woman, in the first trimester of pregnancy, the calories intake per day could be limited to 1800 calories. Then increase the intake by 400 and 200 calories per day in the second and third trimester of the pregnancy respectively.[3,4]
Together with the right amount of calorie intake, it is also necessary to ensure that all essential nutrients rich foods in increased amounts are consumed by the woman.
It is good to consult a professional dietitian to decide the right amount of calories per day required according to the body weight and lifestyle of the pregnant woman.
2. Avoid Fruit Juices, Cheese, and Unpasteurized Milk
Even the fruits juices can get infected with these bacteria through contamination during harvesting, transporting and storage. The fruits in storage or with damage/rot could also carry these bacteria.[8,9]
The pregnant woman should always avoid unpasteurized milk, cheese, butter, and fruit juice.
3. Vitamin A And Organ Meats
It is not healthy for pregnant women to consume organ meats because of the Vitamin A and high copper levels present in it. Vitamin A received from animal food sources can produce toxic effects on the body. Vitamin A and copper can cause toxicity that may lead to birth defects and liver toxicity in the child.[10,11]
It is also good to avoid high-dose multivitamins and fish liver oil supplements that contain Vitamin A.
4. Pregnant Women Should Not Eat Raw Or Processed Meat
These bacteria are dangerous to the health of the unborn baby, and it may lead to stillbirth or develop other health disorders in the baby like blindness, epilepsy, mental retardation or neurological problems.
These bacteria could be present in the deep layers of the meat piece. Meat should be cooked fully to get rid of these bacteria.
It is also good to avoid eating hot dogs, deli meat, and lunch meat as they could be easily be infected with any of these harmful bacteria while processing or during storage.
5. Certain Types of Fish Are Not Good For Expecting Mothers
Most fish are healthy and safe for consumption by a woman in pregnancy.
However there are a few varieties like Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel and Tuna do contain toxic mercury elements. The expecting mothers should avoid These fish verities.
Mercury is toxic, and even a little amount of mercury consumed by the pregnant woman can affect the health of the baby.
The higher amount of mercury can adversely affect the immune system, kidneys, and nervous system.
Any type of fish found in polluted water and large fish that live in the seawater with industrial waste usually accumulates the high amount of mercury in their body.
6. Avoid Raw Or Undercooked Fish
Listeria infections are very common among pregnant women as their particular health condition is suitable for their infectious effects to happen.
Listeria infection spreads from the mother to the unborn baby even when the mother does not show any symptoms of Listeria infection. This can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth or the child born with physical defects.
7. Raw Eggs Should Be Avoided By Woman In Pregnancy
In the extreme cases of this infection, the woman might experience cramps in the uterus that may result in stillbirth or premature birth.
The pregnant woman must be very careful in avoiding raw egg and all foods containing this as an ingredient like salad dressing, ice creams, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, and others.
They should eat only completely boiled or cooked eggs.
8. Avoid Foods Contaminated With Bisphenol A (BPA)
Foods and drinks that come packed in the hard plastic made of this chemical could have some elements of BPA in them.
In 2012, Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of baby bottles that contain bisphenol A (BPA), but this chemical is still commonly used in the production of the most type of plastic bottles and jars used to serve or pack various foods and drinks.
A small level of exposure to BPA is not harmful to adult human beings.
It is better for the pregnant woman to avoid foods packed or served in BPA rich plastic containers for the safety of the unborn child.
9. Certain Types of Raw Vegetables And Unwashed Raw Foods Need To Be Avoided By Pregnant Women
Salmonella is one of the infectious bacteria that is commonly found in raw sprouts like clover, radish, mung bean sprouts, and alfalfa.
It is better for pregnant women to avoid eating raw sprout seeds as they could be easily infected with Salmonella.
In the same way, it is not healthy for the woman in pregnancy to eat unwashed and unpeeled vegetables, and fruits as their unclean surfaces will be lodging several harmful bacteria.
The bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, Toxoplasma, and Listeria, is very much present in most soils, and vegetables and fruits can get contaminated with these bacteria in many ways.
These bacteria are very harmful to both mother and most importantly to the unborn baby.
The infants commonly get infected with Toxoplasma while still in the womb, and it could remain suppressed in the child for many years even after birth. But later on, the dormant Toxoplasma becomes active and can cause blindness and intellectual disabilities.
10. Junk Foods Are Not Healthy Expecting Mothers And Fetus
Junk foods void of essential nutrients and vitamins are bad for the health of the pregnant woman and baby.
It is true that a pregnant woman needs to have an increased intake of calories (300-500 extra calories) in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
However, she should be eating only whole-grain foods to meet the calorie requirement of the body besides healthy vegetables’ and fruits.
The junk foods contain an excessive amount of empty calories from sugar and added fat. This makes the pregnant woman become overweight and may lead to the development of type-2 diabetes and heart diseases.[32,33]
11. Excess Caffeine Intakes Is Bad During Pregnancy
The caffeine, usually present in beverages like coffee, tea, cocoa, and soft drinks, is not all that fine for the pregnant woman.
She should be couscous not to have more than 200 mg of caffeine (2–3 cups of coffee) intake per day; but it is best if she can go without the caffeine intake at all.
The caffeine consumed by the mother is quickly passed to the placenta and fetus
The other side effects of caffeine on an unborn baby are poor fetal growth and the risk of low birth weight at delivery.
As per all medical suggestions, a pregnant woman should stay away from alcoholic drinks for the better health of the baby. Not even red wine consumption is considered healthy during this period.
Another biggest danger with alcohol consumption by a pregnant woman is the increased risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. This can lead to deformities, heart diseases and retarded growth of the brain.[42,43]
The Bottom Line
I hope, it is clear now what food to avoid during pregnancy. During the nine months of pregnancy, the mother should make every effort to avoid all those types of foods we have discussed above.
Of course, there are exceptions to everything. Even the foods we consider safe could already be contaminated before we purchased it. The contamination of the foods could happen during the time of harvesting, transporting, packaging or even at the storage facility in the shop.
It is always safe to eat fully cooked foods as all bacteria will be eliminated during cooking.
The expecting mother should always prefer to have home-cooked foods and avoid all ready-to-eat junk foods.