10 Foods That Can Endanger Your Pregnancy

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Pregnancy is a very exciting time in woman’s life. However, it can also be a confusing time, especially for first time moms-to-be’s. The hormonal changes in your body cause some mighty strange food cravings (the infamous pickles with ice cream or potato chips for breakfast) and there are literally thousands of articles online offering you advice about your pregnancy.

Before you start eating for two, speak to your doctor about a healthy diet. Your doctor has most likely already given you vitamin supplements and talked to you about all the healthy things you should be eating, but did they talk to you about the things you should not be eating?

However, some doctors leave out this vital piece of information, and for such cases we have compiled this list of 10 foods to avoid when you are pregnant.


1. Liver

Liver and products made from liver such as pate, all contain high levels of vitamin A. Although for most people this is a good thing, it is not something you want to consume while you are pregnant, especially during your first trimester. Consuming too much vitamin A rich foods has been linked to birth defects, so be sure to monitor and limit your vitamin A intake.  Avoid any supplement that your doctor has not given you such as fish oil supplements or multivitamins that contain vitamin A.  Your doctor can advise you exactly how much vitamin A is right for you and your baby.


2. Raw or Partially Cooked Eggs

If you have been tossing raw eggs into your morning smoothie to give you a boost of protein, skip the eggs while you are pregnant. Raw or partially cooked eggs can contain salmonella, which can give you severe vomiting and diarrhea. This will affect your unborn baby. Eggs are a good source of protein and nothing is preventing you from eating eggs as long as they have been cooked. You should also wash your hands after handling eggs as salmonella also is found on the shells of eggs. Additionally, you should avoid foods that are made from raw or partially cooked eggs such as Caesar salad dressings and homemade mayo.


3.  Tea and Soda

Although the amount of caffeine a pregnant woman can handle has been widely discussed, there does not appear to be consensus. Caffeine can cross the placenta, which means that it can affect your baby’s heart rate. Many doctors recommend no more than 200 mgs of caffeine but still others say that caffeinated drinks, such as black tea, most herbal teas, and sodas, should be eliminated entirely. Speak to your doctor about what is right for you.

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4. Alcohol

There is no safe limit when it comes to the consumption of alcohol. Drinking alcohol greatly increases the risk that your baby will develop fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes developmental disorders or can cause you to miscarry. Drinking alcohol greatly increases your risk of miscarriage during your first trimester, and during your second and third trimester, alcohol is very damaging to your baby.  Don’t think that because it’s “just beer” or “just wine” that it is any less harmful. Do not drink any alcoholic beverages when you are pregnant.


5. Unripe or Semi-Ripe Papaya

If you are trying to become pregnant, or if you are already pregnant, you should avoid eating green, unripe papaya fruit. Consumption of raw or only partially ripe papaya acts like an abortifacient, which means it can cause you to spontaneously abort your baby. Unripe papayas are loaded with latex, which causes uterine contractions.  Green papaya soup or salads are very popular dishes, especially in the hot summer months but you should avoid them until after your baby is born. It is probably best to simply avoid papaya while you are pregnant to be 100 percent certain. Also, avoid supplements that might contain papaya enzyme.


6.  High Mercury Fish

Fish is a great source of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids but not all fish are created equal, so to speak. Some fish contain more mercury contamination than others. Mercury is a neurotoxin which can result in the abnormal development of your baby’s brain and central nervous system. The worst offending fish that you should avoid when you are pregnant are shark, king mackerel, swordfish, Spanish mackerel, walleye, marlin, and Chilean bass. You can eat 2 servings per week of shrimp, catfish, tilapia, or wild salmon. Tuna is also good but limit yourself to no more than 4 small cans per week. Never eat smoked, pickled, or raw fish while you are pregnant.


7. Soft Cheeses

While you are pregnant, you should avoid soft cheeses such as Mexican style cheese, feta, Gorgonzola, brie, Camembert and Roquefort. Most of these types of cheese are made from unpasteurized milk and this means that they can contain the very dangerous bacteria listeria. Listeria can lead to stillbirth, miscarriage, preterm delivery, or severe illness in your newborn baby.  You can consume any cheese that is made from pasteurized milk products. Always read the label to be sure you are buying pasteurized milk products such as Swiss cheese, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese.

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red meat

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8. Raw or Undercooked Meat

While you are pregnant, never eat raw meat or poultry products. Eating meat that has not been thoroughly cooked can expose you to an infectious parasite which causes toxoplasmosis. Uncooked meat can still contain this dangerous parasite so you should never consume any meat that is not “well-done”, cooked all the way through until there is no pink showing. Never eat cold meat, either, such as turkey, ham, or roast beef until it has been heated to the point where it is steaming hot.


SEE ALSO:  Nutritious Food During Pregnancy Infographic


9. Raw Sprouts

Who doesn’t love raw sprouts as a healthy snack? They are super healthy, but are not something that pregnant women should indulge in. Sprouts can contain harmful levels of bacteria, such as E. coli, listeria, and salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. All of these types of bacteria can cause intense vomiting and diarrhea, which is hard on both you and your baby. You can eat cooked sprouts, which still have plenty of healthy nutrients, but avoid raw alfalfa, mung bean, radish, and clover sprouts. Also, remember to avoid sandwiches that contain sprouts.


10. Coffee

Like tea and soda, coffee contains caffeine, which can affect your unborn baby. The overconsumption of caffeine can lead to miscarriage or low birth weight. It can also cause dehydration. Avoid coffee during your first trimester to reduce your chances of having a miscarriage.  Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, should also be avoided while you are pregnant as it also contains caffeine. Save the chocolate as a celebratory treat that you can enjoy after the birth of your baby.