Pregnancy is one of the most nutritionally demanding periods of a woman's life and an adequate supply of nutrients is essential to support fetal growth and maternal tissue growth.
That's why, it is important to eat a variety of foods and also know which foods are safe to eat and which you need to avoid when you are pregnant. Some foods that may contain bacteria should be avoided because they are harmful for pregnant women. These bacteria are:
1- Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria)
A bacteria most often found in soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk products or ready to eat or undercooked meat, chicken or sea food. It can even grow in refrigerated food, if left for more than 2 days. It may cause mild to severe flu-like symptoms in pregnant women which can pass the illness to your unborn child. Infection of the fetus can result in miscarriage, premature birth, blood poisoning and birth defects. It can be treated with antibiotics.
A parasite carried by cats can also contaminate food. Most often, toxoplasmosis results from eating undercooked meat, chicken or unwashed fruits and vegetables.
Toxoplasmosis usually causes no symptoms or only mild flu-like conditions in pregnant women but can be passed to your developing baby and this can result in miscarriage, disability and physical retardation. It can be treated with antibiotics.
It is good to know that some women are immune to Toxoplasmosis, so check with your doctor.
Here are some foods you should avoid when you are pregnant because they may harbor harmful bacteria:
- Raw meat such as sushi, seafood, undercooked or raw meat or poultry
- Raw eggs or food containing raw eggs such as Caesar dressing, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custard because raw eggs may be contaminated with the bacteria salmonella
- Soft cheese such as blue cheese, feta, brie, camembert, and American soft white cheese
- Fish are very healthy to eat, but when you are pregnant it is advised to Fish containing high levels of mercury in their fatty tissues, such as shark, sword fish, king mackerel and tile fish. When pregnant women consume large amounts of mercury, the baby may suffer brain damage resulting in developmental delays (delays in learning to walk or talk).
Tips to consider in food preparation in order to prevent contamination with harmful bacteria:
- Practice safe food handling especially of meat and chicken. Store raw meat away from cooked food to prevent cross-contamination
- Do not forget to wash fruits and vegetables well and use separate cutting boards to prepare them (separate for meat)
- Sanitize your kitchen-ware and counters well
- If in doubt whether a food is spoilt, do not eat it, throw it away
Good to Remember:
During pregnancy, don’t try new foods especially when you are eating out, especially international foods which might contain raw or under-cooked meat or other unknown ingredients.
Your nutrition is important for your baby’s growth and development; eat a variety of foods, avoid the “unsafe” foods and always consult your doctor with your concerns.