You’ve heard it dozens (and dozens) of times; eating healthy foods during pregnancy has a direct effect on the health of your baby. You know you should eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats and dairy and whole grains. But are you really sure of what you shouldn’t eat?
“Everything you eat or drink passes to your baby,” says Dr. Garritano. “Something that may not affect you greatly has a significant effect on your developing fetus.” Dr. Garritano and Christina are here to explain 7 things you shouldn’t consume while pregnant and why they could be harmful to your growing baby.
1 – Alcohol
Christina says, “No level of alcohol has ever been proven safe during pregnancy. When a pregnant person drinks, the alcohol is passed to the fetus. Alcohol is processed much slower by a developing baby, so alcohol levels go high and stay high in Baby’s body much longer than in the parent.”
Pregnant people who drink are at a higher risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of birth defects including premature birth, brain damage, developmental delays, and heart defects. Drinking during pregnancy can result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), causing facial deformities and intellectual disabilities.
2 – Certain Seafoods
Seafood can be a perfect lean protein, but for pregnant people, it’s best to tread with caution. “Older and bigger fish are more likely to contain mercury and regularly eating them will cause mercury to accumulate in your bloodstream,” says Dr. Garritano. “This passes on to Baby, damaging their nervous system and brain.” Babies whose parent has high levels of mercury are at significant risk of developmental delays and brain damage.
Fish to avoid during pregnancy includes:
- Bigeye tuna
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
Don’t eat more than 6 ounces of white or albacore tuna each week.
Fish safe to eat while expecting are:
- Wild caught salmon
- Canned light tuna
3 – Raw or Undercooked Proteins
While you might love sushi, you’ll need to look at other items on the menu while pregnant. Raw or undercooked fish, meats and eggs that may contain Salmonella or Listeria may not cause you any symptoms when you’re not pregnant can cause severe bacterial infections when you are. Listeria can also cause miscarriages and premature births.
Stay away from:
- Sushi & sashimi
- Raw oysters, clams or scallops
- Any seafood labeled nova style, lox, kippered, smoked or jerky
- Meats cooked to rare, medium rare, or medium.
Make sure eggs are cooked until both whites and yolks are firm, to a uniform temperature of 160˚F. Cook all meats to well done, 165˚F uniformly. Avoid deli or luncheon meats and cold cuts and fermented or dried sausages unless they have been pasteurized in their packaging.
4 – Unwashed Produce
Those fresh vegetables and fruits won’t be as good for you and Baby if they are not thoroughly and completely washed. Fresh produce, unwashed, can contain E.coli and Salmonella.
5 – Sprouts
Not Brussel, but those crunchy toppings that can make a salad extra delicious can also harbor E.coli and Salmonella. Until you’ve delivered your baby, avoid sprouts such as:
- Mung bean
6 – Unpasturized or Raw Dairy or Juices
Pregnant people can encounter Listeria, E.coli and other bacterial infections when consuming raw dairy or juice. Unless they are clearly labeled as pasteurized, avoid freshly squeezed juices and ciders. Because soft cheeses can still become contaminated with Listeria and other bacteria, it’s best to avoid these entirely while pregnant:
- Queso fresco
- Queso blanco
- Panela or queso panela
- Blue-veined cheeses
7 – Herbal Teas
This one may sound strange – how can herbal tea be bad for you? Well, there is very little research and data about the effects of different herbs on your developing baby. Err on the side of caution and avoid all herbal teas and infusions, even the ones targeted for pregnant people, unless specifically discussed with Christina or Dr. Garritano.
Tweaking your diet to include healthier foods while avoiding ones that can pose problems for your growing baby can seem super-easy or super-stressful, depending upon your diet before you conceived. If you have trouble with your pregnancy diet, call our office at 203-409-2539 or click here to schedule an appointment. We are always happy to help guide you through a successful and happy pregnancy!