There are a great many myths surrounding the types of foods that
should be avoided during pregnancy, some of which have factual evidence
to back them up. Others are due more to rumour and old wives tales.
In reality there are not many food groups that should be avoided
entirely during pregnancy, it is generally a case of being careful
with food preparation rather than avoidance. Make sure that the
food preparation area is clean, and that your hands are washed before
coming into contact with food. Be sure that food is kept cold enough
while it is in the fridge or freezer, and that it is fully heated
before eating. It is also a good idea to keep pets and young children
out of the kitchen, partly as they can break concentration and cause
mistakes to be made, and partly because animals can harbour bacteria
that are only dangerous if they are consumed on food.
It is also important to keep an eye on the freshness of food, and
the use/eat by dates. Food that is only slightly out of date may
present health risks to anyone eating them, and this is not a safe
risk to take during pregnancy.
Avoid soft cheeses like Brie
and Camembert, and blue veined cheeses such as Roquefort and Stilton.
Also to be avoided are unpasteurised soft cheeses made of goats'
or sheeps' milk. All of theses cheeses may carry listeria, a bacteria
can make you feel, or be, very sick. More seriously it can also
cause miscarriage, stillbirth or illness in the unborn child.
Hard cheeses are safe, however, including Cheddar, any hard smoked
cheeses, Feta, Parmesan and Mozzarella (making most pizzas safe).
Cottage cheese is safe, as are Philadelphia and Boursin, which have
the texture of a soft cheese, and may be good substitutes for the
more dangerous products.
Raw or undercooked eggs should
be avoided, as they may contain salmonella. Freshly made mayonnaise
contains raw egg should also be avoided. Soft-boiled eggs are also
unsafe, as the yolk is not fully cooked. Hard-boiled eggs, however,
are safe, as long as they have been cooked for the correct length
Be sure to wash all fruits
before eating, as bacteria are often found on the skins.
There are two types of
ice cream that should be avoided during pregnancy. The first is
any type made with raw eggs. These are usually the more traditional
type of product, and may come in any flavour. The second type is
the soft white type often bought at the seaside or from vans. While
the ice cream itself is safe, the machines from which it is dispensed
can harbour bacteria. As it is impossible to guarantee the cleanliness
of these machines, it is safer to avoid this type of ice cream altogether.
: Liver and products containing
liver should not be eaten as they contain large amounts of Retinol.
This is the animal form of vitamin A, and can be dangerous to the
unborn baby if received in high quantities.
Any raw, rare or undercooked
meat should not be eaten during pregnancy as they may contain bugs
such as toxoplasmosis or salmonella. These bacteria can be hazardous
to both mother and baby. Make sure that all meat products are thoroughly
cooked before eating.
: All types of pâté
should be avoided, whether of meat, fish or vegetable origin.
This is the only kind of
nut that has been linked to causing dramatic reactions in those
susceptible to this kind of allergy. The only reason for pregnant
women to avoid peanuts is if there is a history of food allergies,
asthma or severe hay fever in her family. If either of the couple
is even slightly allergic to peanuts, they should be avoided during
pregnancy, as there is an increased risk of there being a reaction
in the unborn baby.
If there is no history of allergic reaction in the family, there
is no reason why peanuts should be avoided, although some women
choose to avoid them just in case.
: The main problem with
these types of meals is that they are kept at refrigerator temperature
after being cooked. This is an ideal environment for bacteria to
thrive, and incomplete reheating will not kill all of the bugs.
The only way to avoid these dangers is to be sure to cook food thoroughly,
and to ensure that food id not kept for long periods of time.
Be sure to wash all salad items
before eating, as the skins of vegetables can harbour bacteria.
Shellfish are only unsafe
if they are out of date or undercooked. Careful handling should
ensure that problems are eliminated.
: A with fruit and salad
items, vegetables should be washed before use, as the skins can
Small quantities are perfectly
safe, but prolonged high usage could be dangerous. Caffeine is a
diuretic, and can cause dehydration in the mother if taken in large
quantities, and also a stimulant that can cause a reaction in the
This is a thorny issue. Some
say that no alcohol whatsoever should be consumed during pregnancy,
others believe that up to eight alcohol units per week are acceptable,
as long as they are spread out. It is believed that alcohol can
be passed from mother to baby, although there is debate as to whether
there is any damage done to the foetus if it encounters alcohol.
The decision as to whether to consume alcohol is really down to
the individual and her health practitioners, but if it is decided
to consume alcohol, it should be in moderation.
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