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What Foods Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

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Pregnancy brings about many things, both pleasant and unpleasant. One of the things accompanying pregnancy is the need for good nutrition. However, nutritional value is not the only important part about what foods you eat during pregnancy: certain foods should be avoided, or at least limited because of health risks for the child.

One of the most common foods to avoid while pregnant is fish. Certain types of fish have a high mercury content, which can be dangerous to the unborn child. This does not mean you can’t have one bite of fish for the entire nine months of your pregnancy; this only means to be careful about the type of fish and how much of it you consume. Larger fish typically contain more mercury than smaller fish. For example, a few types of fish to avoid are: king mackerel or swordfish. Tuna, when canned, is typically safe, but should still be consumed in moderation.

The other most common thing to avoid is alcohol. Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to serious health and developmental problems. Occasionally, however, some doctors or midwives will recommend a small glass of wine toward the end of pregnancy to help you relax. However, there are many opinions on whether even a small amount of alcohol is safe, so it may be best to avoid it entirely. Be sure to get your doctor’s opinion on alcohol if you’d like the occasional drink.

Deli meat is another food that can potentially cause health problems for your child. Deli meat can sometimes contain listeria, a bacteria which has been known to cause miscarriage. It is fairly rare for deli meat to actually contain listeria, but it is possible, and it does happen. If you have to eat deli meat, be sure to reheat it so that it is steaming before eating it, to kill off the listeria.

Unpasteurized milk or cheeses can cause problems, too. When unpasteurized, milk and cheese can also contain listeria. Brie, Camembert and Feta are examples of some cheeses that should be avoided. If they are specifically labeled as made from pasteurized milk, however, they are fine to be eaten.

Caffeine, like alcohol, is another thing that experts are split on. Most believe a small amount of caffeine, 300 mg or less, per day is fine, while others believe caffeine consumption can be linked to miscarriage. If you can’t let go of that daily cup of coffee, be sure to increase your intake of water, as caffeine causes the body to eliminate water and other fluids.

The key to what you can and can’t eat is moderation, especially since trying to remember everything that is or isn’t acceptable can be tiresome or stressful. As a rule, a little fish, a little caffeine or a little treat of something sugary is fine to have every now and then. As with everything in pregnancy, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife if you have any questions about what you can and can’t eat.

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